Much of the hip talk around coffee today focuses on the new. Self-appointed experts wax lyrical about the latest brewing technologies, and consider the trends for different ways of consuming caffeine in terms of “waves”. But Upshot Espresso, in a sense, is doing things the old fashioned way: a father-and-son business working hand-in-hand with some of their city’s best suppliers. Head barista Sam Binstead’s approach to coffee is to “just do one thing as well as you possibly can”, and he’s working with other Sheffield firms who do exactly that, to fill in the blanks.
After starting out in his father’s coffee shop in Barnsley, Sam trained as a barista. He’s been taking care of the coffee at his own stylish, homely premises between the University tram stop and the Hallamshire hospital since 2013, while his dad takes care of the food.
Most of Upshot’s carefully curated roasts come from east London’s award-winning Square Mile Coffee Roasters, but there’s a healthy rotation of beans from elsewhere too, to satisfy the coffee snob in your life. The espresso flows smoothly from the cafe’s centrepiece Faema E61 – a machine so beautiful it should evoke the same feelings in bean addicts as Italian sports cars spark in dull men of a certain age.
A decent sandwich can be difficult to come by these days: go to any high street coffee chain, and you’ll get tasteless bread with sparse fillings and vague notions of a dressing, maybe an anaemic slice of tomato if you’re lucky. But Upshot get their delicious rolls from the expert breadmakers at Forge Bakehouse, and fill them with all sorts of wonders you won’t find in a Tesco meal deal: sautéed courgette, roast squash, halloumi, pan-fried chicken, brinjal pickle, beetroot hummus, zattar. Or they turn it into the base for a flawless rarebit. Follow one of the above with bulging doughnuts from Eve.kitchen, colourful Yorkshire Macarons from Joni, or Sheffield’s best brownies. For take-home treats, there are jams from Just Preserves of Nether Edge, plus loose leaf teas and fresh coffee beans.
Recently, Upshot’s popularity with university and hospital staff on weekday lunchtimes has led to the team installing extra seating in the back room. Throughout, neat displays of stump tea pots, Japanese teacups and cacti line the shelves, and the assortment of tidy drop-leafs and country kitchen dinner tables, cosy leather benches and barrels, pretty wooden stools and chairs, all come together to create a casually upmarket feel, while still falling way short of pretentious or imposing. You’re as likely to come away with a head full of interior design ideas as you are a belly full of food. Plus, there’s always some interesting or obscure reading material lying around, thanks to Upshot’s collaboration with Sheffield’s roving independent magazine distributor La Biblioteka.
Upshot even offer barista lessons, so if you’re finding it hard to leave, they’ll at least help you on your way to creating your own corner of coffee heaven.
- Words by
- Robert Cooke
- Images by
- Gemma Thorpe