CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Utopia Coffee Lounge
The first time I heard about this place I looked it up in the phone book and was confused by the address. I know where Fitzwilliam Street is in the city centre, but I wasn't sure where West One was, and I'd certainly never heard of the Egg. At first I wondered if it had any relation to Sheffield's infamous Egg Box, the ugly Town Hall extension which sadly I never had the chance to see before it was demolished.
But this Egg isn't anywhere near the Town Hall, and one certainly can't call it ugly in that classic 1950s-through-1970s sense. This Egg is a modern high-tech shopping centre featuring lots of glass and outdoor spaces, located on a corner of Devonshire Green. famous for summer music festivals and antiwar demonstrations. And just down the road from the Egg is the trendy Division Street.
Utopia Coffee Lounge is in a roundish glass building right in the Egg's centre -- or perhaps I should say yolk. As soon as I walked through the door and into the sunlit cafe I instantly liked it, and the very pleasant barista kept commenting on my cappuccino-cup earrings. There is a seating arrangement for all tastes: smoking or non-smoking, black leather sofas around coffee tables or little cafe chairs around round tables or stools at the window counters -- and there are lots and lots of windows with views of the other Egg buildings, the Varsity bar and the Pizza Express across the street, and a corner of Devonshire Green.
My double macchiato was very nicely served in a lovely clear glass Italian-style round macchiato cup on a silver saucer, and of course with a demitasse spoon. There was a biscuit as well, and a glass of water. In other words, it was a perfect presentation. Around the perimeter of my happily fine macchiato was a deep round FOB-style rosette ring. And the taste matched the look: I found it strong enough, fresh and clean, and evidently the machine is cleaned and cared for. While I gazed out at the lovely post-rainy-morning afternoon with that gorgeous blue sky chock full of billowy multi-textured clouds I thought ah yes, I think I see the "utopia" part of all of this! I've been through a lot of stress lately and I've been needing a bit of utopia in my life. So what's next on this lovely Friday? An afternoon of Shangri-La with a nightcap of Nirvana? I suppose most of the pubs I could go to will have at least something by Nirvana on the jukebox, but I'm not so sure about the Shangri-La's...
As far as music is concerned I can't really imagine "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "Leader of the Pack" in Utopia -- in this coffeehouse, that is. The ambient music suggests more of a black-walled club with neon lights and expensive cocktails, so the see-through walls are quite a change for the mood. I just noticed the strange light fixtures hanging from the high industrial ceiling. They look like Italian techno paper koi fish lanterns, if there is such a thing.
Yes, I definitely like this place and I'm glad I found it. I like sitting here. And they serve Fair Trade coffee and they also have teas and smoothies and snacks. I think this would be an absolutely perfect venue for some impromptu performance art. Years ago in California, when I was part of an all-girl party performance group, I was always trying to talk the others into doing some spontaneous invasions of unlikely locales -- i.e. laundromats, corner taverns, vacuum cleaner showrooms -- and doing some sort of seemingly unplanned performance -- for instance, all of us breaking out into "Leader of the Laundromat" (a parody of the Shangri-Las' hit by the Detergents) while we're loading our clothes into the driers. I think Utopia Coffee Lounge would be an ideal place for a completely unexpected performance -- for instance, a group of wolfgirls driving in on their motorcycles while singing "Leader of the Pack", or a poodle grooming demo, or an Urban Iditerod or a Bob Dylan Holiday Chorus, or at least a bit of flash mobbing. So come on: any ideas?
Perhaps you should stop in at Utopia for a couple of cappuccinos and give it some serious thought.
Speaking of inspiring times and creative indulgences reminds me of a very recent e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend:The other evening Andrew was reading an article about some guy named Athol and thought that was a strange name. I told him about how amused I've always been by the name of the playwright Athol Fugard, of whom Andrew had never heard. The next morning he gave me a list of all the anagrams he'd come up with for ATHOL FUGARD: