When indie institution Jack’s Records shut down in 2009, and the old Fopp music shop became a Costa Coffee soon after, Division Street’s status as Sheffield’s alternative high street was in doubt.
Yet somehow, even as mega-chains like Taco Bell and Baskin Robbins stroll into empty units, and down the road the likes of Rare And Racy are marked for demolition, that independent streak is survived by the likes of Steam Yard.
Nick Pears and Matt Cottrill opened the cafe at the start of the 2014 in Aberdeen Court, where Jack’s once lived, just off Division Street. Together with Tamper on Westfield Terrace and, more recently, Lucky Fox on the main road, it forms a neat city-centre triangle of tasty coffee and tempting treats.
There’s a nod to the city's industrial heritage in the Grade II listed building’s previous life as a silverworks. But more than anything, Steam Yard is Sheffield's own slice of Americana, decked in cool concrete floors, leather booths and reclaimed oak. Books on mid-century Hollywood fashion and New York coffee shops line the shelves, surrounding laid-back staff who’ll serve you a "Steve McQueen" – that’s a coffee and a doughnut, but let’s be clear: not just any coffee and doughnut.
Steam Yard gets its Redbrick house blend from Square Mile Coffee Roasters in London, while guest blends come from other of the UK’s finest roasters, offering a delicious variety of flavours and aromas that make regular visits a must. The doughnuts, meanwhile, come from The Depot bakery on Arundel Street, and would easily pass the Homer Simpson taste test. On summer days, you can enjoy your Steve McQueen out front, with Aberdeen Court in full sun-trap mode.
Elsewhere on the menu you’ll find bagels, pastrami, grilled cheese and brownies for the full indulgent American experience, while the neatly framed artworks filling the white walls place you comfortably back in Sheffield. Local artists on display include Tom J Newell, Sarah Abbott, and Rich Smith from Five Magics Tattoo, just across the courtyard. You can now get a taste of Steam Yard after closing time too. Their neighbours at The Great Gatsby have put a Steam Yard Old Fashioned on their cocktail menu, made up of Bulleit Bourbon, Angostura bitters and Herbsaint liqueur, infused with the aforementioned Redbrick house blend. So even if Costa and Caffè Nero remain settled on Division Street, at least it looks like Steam Yard’s here to stay too.
- Words by
- Robert Cooke
- Images by
- Nigel Barker