As you all know, we are extremely passionate about quality coffee here at Artemis. We can’t get enough of that rich, caffeinated goodness, whether that be from a bottle of our Cold Brew, a home-brewed cuppa or a speciality coffee at a local cafe. Here at the Artemis head office in the centre of Leeds, we find ourselves in coffee shops constantly, and have become well acquainted with the indie coffee scene. So to help you all out, we have devised a list of our favourite coffee shops in Leeds City centre and why they are our top 5 picks for 2019.
North Star Coffee shop
North Star is one of our all time favourite coffee shops, not just in Leeds. We are constantly raving about this place and we will not stop, so you may as well get on board! We mean this both figuratively and literally, as North Star is situated at Leeds Dock, where many goers choose to traveller by water taxi! (alternatively, you can opt for a lovely stroll or drive instead). Starting from the rear-end of Leeds train station, you can hop on this little yellow boat for a mere one english pound, and coast along the canal to this modern and vastly-expanding location. After your exciting, yet swift journey, you appear at the North Star, where you will often spot one of the staff members crouching next to the notice board, snapping a photo of the next Dog of the month for their instagram account. Now is the perfect time to mention that they are also dog friendly! So even if you do not have your own little bundle of fluff to bring along with you, you may get to see someone else’s well behaved companion there.
An open plan space with large front windows, pale wooden furniture, exposed lighting and quirky primary-coloured features, North Star Coffee Shop is an exceptional example of the modern cafe; well-balanced between industrial and scandanavian style in decor, it is a refreshing and minimalistic space that suits all. The subtle pops of colour, like the freshly prepared sandwiches stacked in the glass cabinet, the primary-coloured, industrial lights hanging above the benches and the which really bring an exciting element to an otherwise very simple, subdued styling. The staff are calm yet attentive, which just instantly puts you at ease in this popular hot spot.
In addition to this, with its recently opened adjoining bakery, The smell of hand-made bread occasionally drifts into the cafe, and I can tell you, nothing beats the delectable aroma of their freshly baked sourdough in the morning. Nova Bakehouse is a new venture by award-winning baker Sarah Lemanski and her sister/co-owner Hannah Mather. The bakery produces naturally leavened country loaves, pastries made with stoneground flour, wholegrain cookies and house made pantry provisions. They provide North Star with all their baked goods, including the fresh bread they use for the delicious sandwiches they prep daily. Believe me, you have not lived until you have tried their sourdough.
Now one a slightly more serious note, we are not only big supporters of North Star because of the inviting space and staff, tasty menu, exquisitely served coffee but the values and practices of the company are ethical, consistent and forward-thinking.
North Star was created by two people who have years of experience in the coffee and service industry, and have an unmatched passion for what they do. Not only do they provide their stockists We partnered up with North Star Roaster and have always been proud to use the coffee they roasted for us, in all of our Artemis products. The skill and knowledge of the roasters is second to none in our eyes. Ben, the founder of Artemis Brew says ‘the owners and staff at North Star are always completely honest and reliable’, that’s one of the many reasons we are avid North Star fans. They are also extremely focused on making a positive difference, in both our local community and those in the coffee farming industry. Providing local jobs, better working conditions and standards of living for the farmers and much more.
Lastly, as a side note, North Star offers a range of courses for groups of people who wish to delve further into the world of coffee brewing and making. A great opportunity for those who are seriously interested in beginning their career as a barista, expanding on their existing skills and knowledge or simply love coffee and have a bit of cash to burn. Those successful on the course(s) will be awarded points, which go towards receiving a SCA Coffee Skills Diploma! Not only will you be able to spice up your CV but lunch and refreshments will also be provided for those attending, so you will be fueled up for training.
La Bottega Milanese
Leeds has been blessed with two locations for this independent coffee business. La Bottega Milanese can be found as a newer and larger cafe on Bond Street, a fashionable location for lunch break socialising amongst business folk, or at it’s original spot in The Light, as a more intimate espresso bar. A paradise of quality coffee and light bites amongst a selection of chain restaurants.
Their house espresso is a custom made Arabica blend that is a huge hit, and has earned them a vast crowd of regulars and high rating reviews over the years. They also feature a guest espresso which changes monthly. La Bottega Milanese claim to use only the best coffees from around the world, and after tasting the various speciality coffees over the past few months, we can’t deny this.
As an italian company, they definitely know how to whip up some unbelievable pasta dishes, paninis and italian pastries, using genuine italian imports, fine meats and cheeses. If you have the opportunity to go, make sure you’re hungry, because as soon as you feast your eyes on their food counter you will be ready to hand over your wallet. Do yourself a favour, and do not leave without trying one of their handmade cannolis; traditional sicilian delicacies at their finest. Or alternatively g on a friday, it’s their donut day and who doesn’t love a freshly baked donut? But do not hesitate, as both these cafes are usually jam packed.
La Bottega Milanese is ideal for photographers and the social media-obsessed. Everything including the perfectly served lattes, the hearty sandwiches jam packed with crisp ingredients and the aesthetically pleasing decor, is more than instagram-worthy.
filled with natural light, white tiling and rows of bar wooden tables and black stools, La Bottega Milanese’s interior design is rustic italian meets modern industrial. We guarantee you will pull out your phone to snap a shot of you enjoying your coffee and tasty treat in this bustling joint, or at least be tempted to. These cafes are definitely the epitome of urban cafe culture.
Stage Espresso bar
Next up is Stage Espresso Bar; a coffee shop visited weekly by the staff here at Artemis. This charming cafe is tucked away within the city centre, so is not necessarily the most well known on this list, but it is extremely popular for those who work in the surrounding area. Stage definitely has its fair share of loyal regulars who will happily sing their praises.
The cafe is somewhat like the TARDIS, in the sense that with first glance you see that it is a modest cafe with a few tables set within a rustic-style room. However, take a peek down the stairs and there is a much larger seating area with large benches, that can set you and all your work coffee-craving colleagues on your work break. The cafe is simply decorated, with funky wall art depicting local scenery, tightly-packed bar shelves showcasing a variety of beverages and syrups and an old-school chalk menu board. This relaxed feel allows for the beautifully crafted wooden counter to be the centre point of the room, drawing all focus onto the shiney coffee machine and the lovely selection of artisan treats baked by the talented duo at Porter House Cakes.
Upon arrival you will most likely come face to face with beloved resident dog and all around good boy, Copper the beagle (who even has his own instagram account @copperthebeagledoggo). Besides, who doesn’t love to be cheerfully greeted by a furry friend when they walk through the door. What is also great about Stage is that you can buy various coffee blends from a multitude of roasters, and similarly to North Star the baristas will happily grind the beans for you according to your needs.
Stage not only serves excellently roasted coffee and cakes, but also delicious breakfast and lunch options, made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The ever-changing menu has included things such as, a hearty bowl of porridge topped with seasonal berries, a special twist on posh poached eggs and spelt tabouleh with roasted mediterranian veg. It is sure to become your new favourite cafe for a light brunch. Or if you have a big sweet tooth, why not head down to their smaller shop in Assembly Underground for a delicious belgian chocolate waffle with your morning cuppa. Stage at Assembly’s menu is sure to please all of the family.
The first 3 things that come to mind when I think of Episode 1 coffee shop, are Great menu, bubbly staff and the colour yellow, sunshine yellow to be exact. Just down the road from the aforementioned Stage Espresso Bar, Episode 1 is also situated in the quieter north-western corner of the city centre. This hidden gem would nearly go amiss if it was not for that funky yellow door that makes you look twice. This snug cafe boasts a modern nordic-esque interior; the perfect balance of eccentricity and minimalism, it makes use of light wooden furniture, bold black and white line patterns, and of course, it’s signature yellow cleverly dispersed around the room. It’s fun, it’s light, and if the coffee is not enough to perk you up, the refreshing design will certainly brighten your day. The coffee shop may be small but its character is larger than life.
This burst of colour is also reflective of their self-claimed Aussie-inspired menu. Geared towards the more health-conscious and brunch lovers, Episode 1’s food is simple, quality food, with a special twist from down under. The fresh and vibrant ingredients are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, truly makes the most of the most important meal of the day. As an extra bonus, most items on the menu have gluten free and vegan options available too. So nobody has to miss out! And to top it off their single-origin house blend from Origin Coffee Roasters washes it all down delightfully.
Additionally, they also run a series of intimate workshops from Barista Basics to Latte Art, Tasting to Home brewing. They even offer 1:1 sessions which are tailored to the individuals wants and needs when it comes to coffee training. No matter what coffee-making abilities you have, they are sure to have a workshop that suits your level. The workshops are generally about two hours long and are very reasonably priced
Hyde Park Book Club
And Last but certainly not least, we have the Hyde Park Book Club. This old refurbished petrol station turned cosy, alternative cafe and events venue is a favourite hangout spot amongst locals. Situated in the heart of the renowned student spot, this artsy joint is fortunately a mere ten minute walk away for most Hyde Park residents. Given the unusual architecture of the building, the spacious interior is also very quirky. The laid-back approach to design will have you feeling as if you’re sitting in the front room of your student flat, with the mismatching furniture, array of music posters, plants and your nan’s chair in the corner of the room. This eclectic style somehow works. Hyde Park Book Club offers a home away from home for everyone, from those wanting to socialise with friends over a brew or a student writing an essay in need of a quality coffee boost.
Moreover, the staff are always super friendly. The best part is that you can tell they love working there and alongside each other, which ultimately creates a much more lively and comfortable atmosphere. The guy in the red beanie steaming your latte milk, the girl setting up the chairs in the outdoor seating area, the chef in the kitchen concocting your veggie breakfast and the bearded sound technician setting up the guitar leads downstairs are all genuine and hardworking people who are happy to help.
With a small but thoughtful all veggie/vegan menu, you could spend all day at this place; the cooks use seasonal ingredients making the meals flavorful and fresh. As well as this, all of the vegetarian meats used are from The Vegetarian Butcher, from the Netherlands
For those of you who are a fan of North Star’s coffee Book Club partnered up with their roasters to exclusively use their house coffee blend, which I personally was thrilled to discover upon my first visit. They have various different alternative milks so those of you who are sick of only having soya milk, or no dairy-free option for that matter, can do a little happy dance when they get to choose anything from almond to rice. The bar is also stocked with a fridge full of craft beers, ciders and soft drinks as well a tasty hand-made pastries; the ideal accompaniment for any hot beverage. All in all, this place is one not to miss, particularly for any students, or arts and music lovers.
As you can probably tell we are huge supporters of the Indie Coffee Shops in Leeds, our beloved home city. To learn more about why we think it’s important to support local, independent coffee shops read our earlier blog post available here. While you’re at it, why not check out the rest of our posts on our blog, or browse our website to satisfy all your coffee needs!