CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Cawa

Back Buzz - February 29, 2018

When I first spotted Cawa Coffee from my bus home one evening, I was intrigued but also quite surprised. Tucked away between Broomhill's St Luke's and Save The Children charity shops, this brand new coffee cafe is also located two doors down from Costa Coffee and just across the main road from Five Rivers Coffee Company. Once again I am struck by how Sheffield appears to be turning into Seattle, with several options for espresso available within just a few footsteps. Over the course of several weeks I saw the cafe grow in popularity.

I finally had the chance to pay a visit one morning before work. The café seems to be populated with mostly a young crowd on this particular morning, and I was definitely the oldest person in the place. But it's not too surprising, as Broomhill happens to be one of Sheffield's big student neighbourhoods. And according to the photos on their website, people of all ages come to their live music events.

I was impressed by my first view on entering Cawa. The café is long and narrow with wooden tables all in a line along the right side and a long wooden coffee counter along the left. I was wishing I could perch in the front door and sketch the place, complete with the diminishing perspective of two parallel lines finally meeting in the distance. But my plan on this day was to have a coffee and get off to work. I mean, I can still sketch it from memory.

The barista was very hospitable and particular, asking me just how dry I wanted my double dry cappuccino. It was served in a black proper cappuccino cup, as opposed to the usual dual-purpose cafe au lait/soup bowl that so many places insist on using. A very nice pillow of foam was ringed with a soft brown crema. The coffee is extremely smooooooth, though. I would have preferred more robustness so that I could actually taste the coffee. Next time I'll try my usual macchiato, with much less milk foam.

Cawa sources its own green coffee beans from Brazil and Colombia, and then they're hand-roasted at Sheffield's own Smith Street roasters. They use an Italian-style Fracino Retro espresso machine which features two levers. Apparently this type of machine was traditionally found in the London coffee bars in the middle of the last century, back in the days when wearing dark glasses indoors was de rigueur.

The cafe's impressively tempting breads and pastries -- including the pleasantly alliterative trio of croissants, cruffins, and cronuts -- are baked daily by Simon, their Danish chef. They also offer freshly made sandwiches, tapas, paninis, soups, and light lunch dishes. As I detected during my Thursday evening bus rides, they feature live jazz on Thursdays starting at 7pm, where customers can nibble on tapas and choose between craft beers, organic wines, or a small selection of cocktails including espresso martinis and Singapore Slings. And on Sunday afternoons they offer jazz jam sessions.

The word Cawa comes from the original Turkish word for coffee and also refers to a coffee cafe. So "Cawa Coffee" seems a bit redundant. If cawa means both the place and the coffee, I would think "Cawa" would be enough. But I suppose not everybody in Sheffield understands Turkish, so it's probably a good idea to mention the coffee part.

On my way out I checked out the fresh bread in the window. It really looks like quality French and European-style stuff, especially the white and wholemeal baguettes, so I would guess that Depot Bakery now has a worthy competitor. I Before I left I bought a cheese scone to have for breakfast the next day. But I'll have to come back some weekend day to buy a fresh baguette and perhaps a croissant. And I may as well try a macchiato while I'm here, just to be different (of course).

Speaking of being different reminds me of a very recent email exchange with my Bay Area friend:

After having taken another fascinating online course about the Future of Robotics, I read in the Guardian this morning about an interesting use of robots. Here's a short video I found demonstrating camel robots.

Wow, that’s impressive and bizarre. To deal with the problem of keeping up with the camel, Google should take on the challenge of using a self-driving SUV and a robotic remote camel pilot to issue the commands to the camelback robot. How about drones operated by camel robots? We could start our own Amazon-style business — perhaps called Camelot -- featuring camel-robot-controlled delivery drones. And why stop there? I can envisage a day in the near future when camel robots are performing 3D-printed keyhole surgery (cameloscopies?) for organ repair and replacement.

I'm really not interested in purchasing a talking helper like Alexa. But if someone developed one that was shaped like a little camel dressed in jodhpurs and a jockey cap, that might be a different story…