CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Cafe #9

Back Buzz - April 30, 2002

[pumping heart] Cafe #9, 9 Nether Edge Road, Nether Edge, Sheffield S7, South Yorkshire

In many ways the city of Sheffield has many parallels with my own Seattle. For one thing the weather is similar, with the high gusty winds, sudden showers of pea-sized hail, and phantom rain falling from sunny clear skies. Both cities, like Rome, were built on seven hills (although one of Seattle's original hills, Denny Hill, has been flattened into the less romantic-sounding Denny Regrade). The hills provide both cities with spectacular views, although Seattle's views are mostly of water whereas Sheffield's are of countryside. The red brick houses climbing up Seattle's hills are mirrored by the climbing rows of Sheffield's brown Yorkshire stone houses. There are universities and abundant Asian populations in both similar-sized cities, injecting a cosmopolitan zest into the atmosphere. And, of course, an American microbrew drinker can be as deliriously happy in Seattle as an English real ale drinker can be in Sheffield.

Since Seattle is the Coffeehouse, Coffee Bar, and Espresso Cart Capital of the Universe I've had no unrealistic expectations of Sheffield coming remotely close to that claim. I'm quite happy to know there are a large number of coffeehouses and cafes to explore. But I surely would never have expected to find a uniquely Seattle espresso experience in Sheffield.

But find it I did! It was a sunny March day as we drove toward Nether Edge. Driving along Brincliffe Edge I was struck by Seattle déjà-vu: I could have sworn we were riding along the wooded ridge of Boyer Avenue East in north Capitol Hill. And then, as we turned into Nether Edge Road, there I was back in the heart of Seattle's Capitol Hill! And just as I expected to come across the Harvard Exit Theatre we found ourselves at Cafe #9.

Seeing as how it was a warmish afternoon the three of us sat at a table outside while two young men played chess at another. Most of the customers were drinking lattes in glass mugs, which also reminded me of Seattle. When we ordered our three double macchiatos, however, I was a bit concerned that the barista -- a man who looked as if he should know better -- questioned our order. When I noticed the menu listed "latte macchiatos" I clarified by saying "espresso machiattos", but he still didn't seem to be quite sure what a macchiato was. Fortunately he got it reasonably close, although they were much bigger than macchiatos should be, more like small cappuccinos. At least the shots were nice and strong and the foam was of a pleasing texture -- and the drinks were served in pleasantly round white Italian cups. The coffee is from Caffé Musetti in Piacenza, Italy, which exports its beans all over Europe as well as to the US and Japan. The motto on the window says "Musetti...é il mio caffé!"

As I sat drinking mio caffé I could hear Joni Mitchell emanating from indoors, "Clouds" under a cloudless sky, just as a large Pakistani family strolled by. The distinctly Seattle Bohemian feel of the setting was definitely a boost to young Rory's first decent espresso experience -- the first of many more to come, hopefully. If Nether Edge is Sheffield's version of Seattle's Capital Hill, and the hill consisting of Walkley and Crookes is Queen Anne Hill's twin, will Sheffield's Castle Market be partnered with Seattle's Pike Place Market? Where do I find Sheffield's Pioneer Square? And why are there no cathedrals in downtown Seattle?

Since I can't answer these questions with any reasonable authority, I may as well completely change the subject and talk about toothpaste. Following is an e-mail exchange from last year with my Bay Area friend:

Recently I received a sale flyer for Safeway which advertised "a free 3-D Whoosher in every package of Cheesy Wotsits".

In the same flyer is an advertisement for Colgate Herbal Toothpaste, flavoured with sage, myrhh, chamomile, and eucalyptus -- about the last four flavours I'd want to taste first thing in the morning. Do they have this version in the States? Cheesy Wotsits? What a great name!

As to toothpaste, I've been using nothing but Tom's Of Maine with things like fennel, propylis and myrrh for awhile and I haven't paid much attention to what's going on with flavors among the major brands. I have noticed that you can get baking soda versions of every brand (salt instead of sweet?) and also extra abrasive "tartar control" versions.

So why not take it to extremes? If sage and eucalyptus don't sound right in the morning, why not have a different toothpaste for every meal -- and every type of food for that matter? How about cantaloupe or mango toothpaste to freshen that morning mouth? Would a post-breakfast espresso toothpaste be overkill? (Starbucks would doubtless jump into the market with variations like a half-decaf, low-fat double latte toothpaste.) A mid-day jalapeño toothpaste would add zest to that Mexican meal. For those Asian days you could enjoy Green Curry Paste or Thai Fish Paste. A dry-hopped India Pale Paste would provide a lift to your mouth in the afternoon.

As an appetizer the French have always offered paté de foie gras. But I'm not sure that Colgate Tartar Control Liver Paste would catch on in the States.

Dinner foods, of course, would require the greatest variety of complementary flavors. Perhaps one flavored with wine of each region and grape. Many people, I'm sure, would pass on the Bourdeaux Paste and proceed directly to the Crème Brulée Paste or Tiramisu Paste.

And I suspect that dog poop doesn't rank much higher than chamomile among things you'd want to taste in the morning, but I'm sure that, for a certain rare breed, Divine's Poodle Paste would be just the thing before they sit down to a breakfast of nice little eggies.

It would give a whole new dimension to dental hygiene.

Don't forget all the Whitening versions, too. I noticed the other day there are about 20 different versions of Colgate available, from Total Cavity Control through Plaque Fighting and Whitening. There are even two versions, Sensation Deep Clean and Fresh Confidence, that don't even make any claims or say what they're supposed to do.

Why not toothpastes based on aromatherapy? After all, with my Olay Aromatherapy body washes I can become Revitalised, Relaxed, Inspired, or Sensualised as I soak in the bath. How about Colgate Tartar Control with the Taste of Money? or the Taste of Revenge? What would the Colgate Whitening Toothpaste with the Taste of Freedom be like, especially first thing on a Monday morning? On Saturday night before going out you could brush with Colgate Breath Freshening with the Taste of Adventure. Maybe I should run out and buy some Colgate Cavity Protection Tartar and Plaque Control Taste of the High Seas with Neon Whiteners.

Arrrrrr, laddie, lootin' fresh breath!