“Wine, gin, beer – these are the drinks that are crafted and made ready for you to enjoy. With coffee it’s grown, picked, delivered, roasted and even then you can mess up the end product before you savour it. It’s an art.”
I quietly stood outside, admiring the view before taking the picture of a 30 year old SAAB just outside Upshot. If it was me I would just leave it there all the time, as the view was astounding.
I walked into the cafe full of people and was greeted by a few friendly smiles, fighting a never ending battle of making a flawless brew. And by the window, there was Sam – stylish haircut, long beard and accompanied by his dog Margaret. After introducing myself to both we sat down with a fresh batch brew.
The story of Upshot Espresso…
Details, Attention & Priorities…
With a pen & notebook in his hands, he writes down a little bit about our blog. When asked he admits to taking notes on everything as everything is a learning curve. A few pages he shows me are scribbles on coffee quality, extraction times and his present project – improving the water filtering system.
“It’s nice to talk about all things coffee and I can talk about it all day, but that brings us to another thing. There is no need to force all that to a customer – some might just want a cup of coffee and some more. We are here to make people feel welcome”
Before Upshot Espresso opened its doors, there was another coffee shop run by his dad. The coffee scene back then was very limited. Large drinks with a lot of milk and cheap quality coffee. But the idea was there. Smaller drinks, more enjoyable experience and savouring the quality. At the time when Upshot wasn’t in the picture Sam worked as a sound system specialist for bands like The Darkness, which he admits had its perks, but eventually travelling and difficult work settings made him pursue different paths.
A few years later, with a history to build on – Upshot Espresso came to life. With hard work, persistence, the right attitude towards quality and people – one of the first speciality coffee shops in Sheffield opened its eyes and allowed people to savour a new type of coffee.
Nordic Interior & New Ventures
Light, Simplicity & Quality…
“We are opening a new shop in 3 weeks and with a bakery we should be able to experiment more with food in both places. But despite being in a busy Kelham Island we will remain a speciality coffee shop and provide what we know best”
With a drop of modesty and pride in his face, Sam announces his new plan. And after a rocky start it’s only weeks until the new Upshot opens its doors.
Leaving that mystery behind for another day, we talk about Upshot’s interior. With Scandinavian simplicity yet elegance, Sam always looks for change.
“If there is an opportunity we will make changes and people are already used to things changing in here. Enjoying a coffee one day, the next you might find that shop has a completely different arrangement”
With coffee bean bags on benches, hanging plants all over the shop and coffee, tea and equipment on show it truly makes a vibrant and Nordic vibe.
Ever Changing Coffee
Speciality, experimental & unique…
Despite spending so much time talking about the story of Upshot, we managed to talk quite substantially about coffee and how carefully selected it is. Upshot has seen it all: beans from HasBean, Assembly, Round Hill, Bonanza, Coffee Collective, Tim Wendelboe, The Barn, North Star you name it. What’s most impressively they managed to secure Origin’s and Ninety Plus Panama Gesha.
The ever changing house and guest espresso is made by the glamorous Kees Van Der Westen ‘Mirage‘ espresso machine. Filter coffee, same as espresso, is always changing and our conversation was accompanied by Assembly San Antonio batch brew from Guatemala.
With a lot of experience and a desire for quality, Sam emphasised how important the process of making coffee is, but not forgetting that simplicity and enjoyment is also of great importance. This is why he prefers having a simple batch brew on the front as his main offer. He explained that even though there is a routine and ritual to brewing V60, the quality will still depend on the person making it, the pressure of serving customers, the grind and many more human factors.
“A perfect customer, who really cares about the quality of coffee, will enjoy a batch brew with a nice cinnamon roll instead of relying of V60 being prepared to perfection”
Apart from coffee, tea is another factor that Upshot puts a lot of effort in to. Lalani & Co. – specialist in single batch teas from artisan growers, delivers only in small batches. While being expensive, speciality tea is an aspect that many coffee shops forget to invest on.
Having participated in UK Aeropress championships twice now and holding UK Matcha Masters title, Sam admits that tea is not getting enough limelight in speciality coffee shops.
Don’t forget, your batch brew needs to go with something. So if you are peckish, you can have anything you want from the Scandinavian inspired brunch menu, patisserie and if you are coming on Friday – doughnuts!
It was a pleasure meeting Sam and his always friendly crew @ Upshot Espresso. And before we wrap it up here are some coffee questions for Sam:
- Favourite beans? We’re currently brewing Bonanza coffee from Berlin and their Ethiopia Sasaba is tasting absolutely incredible on espresso! Generally I favour washed Ethiopian coffees with light, complex and clean flavours.
- Preferred brewing technique? In the shop, Fetco batch brew! Consistent and absolutely delicious. At home I love brewing a big Chemex on a Sunday morning.
- Favourite drink? Black Filter Coffee.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned in for more speciality coffee scene up North!
Story and photos by Augustinas
Review of: Upshot Espresso
Speciality coffee shop, 355 Glossop Rd, Sheffield S10 2HP