Sundays are for hours spent sitting with people you love over coffees and cakes and then perhaps beers. They’re for talking out what you did last week, what you’re going to do this week.
So that’s what we did yesterday. We headed into Sheffield for the day with every intention of sitting over steaming hot coffee and I knew just the place I wanted to go to have it.
Whenever we live somewhere I become mildly obsessed with finding “the best” of something. In Korea it was the best craft beer, in Australia, the best views of the city. It would seem my obsession in Sheffield is coffee shops.
I did what all good Millenials do when they want to find something out, I reached out to people on Twitter.
— Laura Bronner (@collectlabels) January 15, 2016
I was overwhelmed by all the responses from Sheffield’s coffee drinkers. I now have an extensive list of cafes to sample over the next few weeks. I looked them all up and picked a favorite for this weekend, Marmadukes. Partly because of how centrally located it is and partly because I loved the name.
It was such a cold day. It had snowed the night before and bitter temperatures had finally arrived. Marmadukes’ windows were steamed up. I snapped a few photos, a struggle in mittens, and headed into the warmth.
We had to wait a few minutes for a seat. There were two other couples in front of us waiting for a table. The staff were wildly attentive and we were seated after a few minutes. Up the stairs, past the Spanish tile to the top floor, a small table by the window.
There was a low buzz about the room. Every distressed wooden bench was taken, all the tall metal stools occupied. Industrial lights hung from exposed metal piping. You could see into another room where a woman was measuring out butter. One stick, two, three, then four. She put it all into a saucepan and disappeared from my view.
We checked out the menu, brown paper on a wooden clipboard. The brunch list was extensive, pancakes, a full English, organic porridge, but we were here for one thing: the coffee.
I’d read online about their Aeropress and Kalita Wave style coffees. They’re simply different methods of brewing, but I was intrigued, I’d never even heard of either of them.
I asked the barista, “what’s the difference?”
He explained the different methods and how they change the flavor of the coffee.
“Which one do you recommend?”
“I recommend them both, otherwise I wouldn’t sell them”.
We ordered one of each.
They brought the coffees on their own little wooden trays. It reminded me of the way they serve soba noodles in Japan. The coffee was in a metal pour jug. In true attention to detail, they gave us each a large mug and a small mug so that we could sample each other’s coffee.
I had the Aeropress. Luke poured me a small cup of the Kalita Wave. The smell of the coffee was so strong. I wondered briefly whether we should have ordered some milk on the side.
Luke summed it up perfectly, “with the Aeropress, you get a bang of flavor at the start and then it mellows. With the Kalita Wave you get a mellow start and a strong finish”.
The same beans, but two different ways of brewing them. I preferred the Kalita Wave coffee. It was nutty and bold, yet easy to drink black. Luke liked the Aeropress for its sweetness and strong coffee kick.
We headed back down the creaky wooden steps into the front of the cafe. The smell of coffee, the sounds of beans grinding and milk whirring, the sight of all of the cakes and slices and flapjacks, we smiled and said goodbye. It was time to head back out into the cold.