CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> PJ Taste
For several years now I've been passing by PJ Taste on the bus to and from work, figuring it was just another sandwich shop offering the usual mediocre coffee drinks, usually from a push-button machine. But recently, in an online coffee forum, I noticed someone was recommending it for its excellent espresso drinks, so I decided I'd better give it a try.
Located just off the ring road where West Street starts off at Glossop Road, PJ Taste is very small and does mostly takeaway food, but there's a bit of seating in case one wants to pay the extra price to sit in. In the case of my simple macchiato this was an addition 50p; but considering this brought the price up to a mere £1.55 I really couldn't complain.
I sat in a raised window seat near a young man who was eating a very nice-looking salad. My macchiato was served in a white china espresso cup with demitasse spoon, packets of brown sugar, and a smile from the barista. I had read that PJ Taste offers the best crema in town, although in the case of my drink there wasn't much evidence of crema and the coffee itself was a bit acidic, as if the strength wasn't quite right. But it was nice enough for a place that specializes in its locally sourced food. The bread is from the local Cat Lane Bakery, the ice cream is from Our Cow Molly in nearby Bradfield, Yorkshire Crisps are for sale, and even the bottled water is Harrogate Spring Water. The coffee is Caffé Bei & Nannini, the only concession to local produce, as it's from Lucca in Italy.
According to their website PJ Taste specializes in catering for all sorts of events: weddings, parties, conferences, barbecues, etc. The daily specials board in the cafe was offering some unique items including venison and buffalo burgers, steak sandwiches, fish cakes with salsa verde, and a squash and sesame burger with carrot chutney and pumpkin oil dressing. Cold sandwiches, salad boxes, and ready-to-toast paninis are available in a fridge to one side, and on the other side shelves are loaded with jars of locally made jams, chutneys, and tins of Yorkshire Crisps. This seems to be the trend these days for cafes, at least in Sheffield.
Sadly from my window seat I couldn't see the life-sized half-naked surfer who stands in front of California Fresh a few doors down. (He is especially amusing when covered with snow; I keep meaning to take a photo.) But I did have a good view of the old brick building across the street with its original windows that looks as if it could be an old cutlery works. The carved sign above the corner door says "1st W.Y.R.E. (Vols)", which stands for First West Riding of Yorkshire Royal Engineers (Volunteers). When I looked it up online I learned that the building, which was built in 1907, used to house the 106 Field Squadron who fought in World War I. It's now used for conferences and exhibitions as well as housing the University of Sheffield Officer Training Corps.
So that's one mystery solved. There's still the mystery of who this PJ is. I don't imagine it stands for pajamas, and I feel quite confident it's not PJ Harvey or PJ Brennan. I imagine it will remain a mystery, just like what caused the dinosaurs to die out.
Speaking of dinosaurs reminds me of a very short e-mail exchange from last year with my Bay Area friend: