CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Bragazzi's

Back Buzz - August 8, 2009

pumping heartBragazzi's, 224-226 Abbeydale Road, Heeley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

For some time now, thanks to recommendations from several Sheffield readers, I've been wanting to check out Bragazzi's over on Abbeydale Road. Recently I read a posting on an online coffee forum from an American who had heard Bragazzi's, located "somewhere in the north of England", served the best coffee in the UK. It was then I decided I had to try it.

It was just a matter of finding the place. For those of us who live on the western side of Sheffield, this area southeast of the city centre seems a bit of a Bermuda Triangle, especially when trying to navigate it by car. After several diversions and miscalculations we finally found the cafe, marked by a bright red sign and located just a few doors down from Yabba, the West Indian shop and cafe that makes heavenly hot papaya chutney and coconut rundown sauce.

As one enters Bragazzi's there is a small deli to the left which sells Italian foodstuffs, fresh meats and cheeses, and ready-made sandwiches for £3.50 that the cafe patrons can purchase to eat. On the other side of the door is a small cafe area dominated by a large coffee table and sofas in the front window, giving the feel of a cosy but sunny living room. The ambience, with the continental posters plastering the walls, reminds me of some of Seattle's funkier coffeehouses, most notably the late Still Life in Fremont. There is a window counter on the deli side where one can sit and sip coffee and enjoy the view of the sidewalk tables, Ali's Minimarket, Talk Time, and Milano's Pizza across the street.

The number of customers seemed just right for a Saturday noontime, with half of them reading newspapers and the other half chatting with friends. We managed to find a small table right in the middle of it all. Our double macchiatos were served in cylindrical white china cups. The drinks were perfectly made but a bit smooth for my liking, as I do prefer a bit more robustness. In fact I would say these macchiatos were very very very smooth and would definitely please those who like their coffee smooooooooooooooooth.

Our sandwiches were quite tasty. The mozzarella in mine was very fresh and the pesto was bright and basil-intensive, and the aubergines were lovely. Andrew enjoyed his salami sandwich with artichokes and watercress, although he had trouble detecting the alleged presence of sun-dried tomatoes. Our only real objection was that the bread could have been a bit fresher.

I would say Bragazzi's is definitely a Sheffield gem, especially for people who live and work on the south-eastern side of Sheffield. I don't really think the coffee is any better than Hulley's at Hunters Bar or Gusto Italiano next to the Cathedral. But that is certainly not a criticism. After all, perfection is only an ideal -- except, perhaps, in the case of Caffe D'Arte in Seattle.

Speaking of perfection reminds me of a recent e-mail conversation with my Bay Area friend about barcodes:

After spending a few weeks last spring at the university learning centre re-barcoding videos and DVDs, and now involved in my 8-week contract supervising the barcode-scanning and RFID tagging of half a million books, I have crowned myself the Barcode Queen of the Learning Centre. As a workmate of mine was re-barcoding a few items at the other campus when their barcode machine broke, he found a very useful website. To try it out I entered my birthday. I should at least print it on a t-shirt... The only variations I can think of would involve a lot of material and a lot of labor. A barcoded bridal gown could be the Bride of Barcodestein. What would the supreme ruler of Barkhodestan wear? I guess a barcode bikini wouldn't take much material, but a better political statement would be a barcode burkha. Your name on the front would establish the identity of that veiled face. Barcode tags over vital body parts might remind the viewer what lies inside without arousing any improper cravings. Maybe I'm wrong about the lack of cravings, though. If barcodes were used in this way, I suppose we'd have barcode fetishists. Perhaps some day we'll all be toting around portable barcode scanners -- a new application for our mobile phones, most likely -- so that there will be no more need for printed signs. Imagine how much paper, building materials, and space could be saved if bar codes replaced road signs, shop signs, menus in restaurants, and even...books! Imagine how many more books they could fit into the library if every book was reduced to a bar code label. To brighten up the world they could print barcode labels in different colours. I suppose there would be the problem of people losing their scanners or having them stolen, so the better idea would be to install barcode scanners in everybody's eyes. No, that would probably be too dangerous. Hmmm...

How about just replacing all of us with barcode scanners?