CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Ink and Water

Back Buzz - September 9, 2014

pumping heartInk and Water, The Plaza, 8 Fitzwilliam St, Devonshire Quarter, Sheffield

A few months ago an artist friend asked if I'd been to the new coffeehouse in West One, so I instantly stored the unique name away in my mind. Meanwhile life has been so busy that it was only a couple of days ago I finally had the chance to stop in and try a coffee at Ink and Water. The cafe is situated on the rear corner of the West One complex on Cavendish Street, just opposite Convent Walk and the former location of the Convent of Notre Dame.

The tiny cafe was quite busy on Thursday morning with predominantly student-aged customers. Shiny white tiles with black grouting lend an arty kitchen feel to the place, and there is a choice of seating with window counter stools, stools along the side bar, and three tiny tables, plus several tables outside on the pavement. I was very surprised when I ordered a double macchiato and was charged only £1.00. I grabbed one of their loyalty cards which requires only 4 stamps for a free coffee. What a deal this place is.

The counter display featured scones, croissants, and nice looking baguette sandwiches, with bread provided by Sheffield's own Seven Hills Bakery. The coffee is from Pollard's, the tea from Sheffield's own Birdhouse Tea Company, and the ice cream for the affogatos from Our Cow Molly in nearby Bradfield. It's definitely a locally sourced cafe.

My double macchiato was served in a short glass crowned with a splodged splatter of a rosetta. Although it looked like there was slightly more than two shots, the coffee was startlingly wonderful: robust and hearty without being overly bitter. I was surprised and truly impressed by how good it was. And it was served with a smile, and only a quid. What a way to start the day; I'll definitely be coming back here.

Besides being a cafe Ink and Water is a design and creative agency that does graphic and web design, branding, photographing, and video production -- all those industries that are definitely fuelled by caffeine. The studio is up a flight of stairs from the cafe, so the fuel is very handy.

Why ink and water when it's all digital design? I suppose printers still use ink; but water is anathema to computers. I'm reminded of the tragic incident last year when, with a split-second spastic bump of my coffee cup, the foam atop my macchiato leapt up into the air and across the table, landing on the keyboard of my laptop. This most unfortunate incident cost me a week without a computer plus the cost of a new keyboard -- and this was the effect of maybe a half teaspoon of milk foam, which is not nearly as, well, wet as water.

When I left Ink and Water I quickly checked out its neighbour Wa Ding, an Asian grocery, which was full of Chinese students stocking up. And just beyond is The Hop, an excellent cask ale pub -- but, alas, this is a coffee column, not a beer column, and I had to get off to work. The curse of the working class...

Speaking of unusual names for cafes reminds me of a recent Facebook posting about the name of my hometown neighbourhood in California:

Here's a question for my Long Beach friends. Why is Los Altos called Los Altos when it's completely flat? Even though I don't live there I think that misnomers are a common thing.... The natives who lived there, the Kinai Belau, (which means dwellers by the beach which is long) were the tallest natives the Spanish settlers had ever seen. Many of them were over 6 feet tall, which was astounding to the dwarfish Spaniards, who were no taller than 5'2". They named the area for the natives, and then later killed them all, because, DAMN they were scary big! Is that why all the houses in Los Altos have eight-foot-high ceilings? The tradition seems to have held. Or maybe midgets with a love of helium balloons live there now... It used to be a colony of countertenors who were also castrati. Aha! I hava you answer! Paul Shoup, a railroad executive, formed the Altos Land Co in 1906 with property purchased from Sarah Winchester. He started the community of Los Altos to connect Los Gatos with Palo Alto. He could just as easily gone with Palo Gatos, but then It would be like an alternate reality where I was born rich instead of good looking. Or maybe I would have been a balloon-loving castrati countertenor midget... And Lloyd Whaley, who in 1949 saw the potential of Los Altos far beyond the soybean fields, hired contractors to construct the 379-mile-long bridge between Long Beach and Palo Alto. Due to the senior architect's drinking problem, the contractors misread the plans and built houses instead. As I heard it, he was fired from his job, and ended up as a helium balloon addicted countertenor...