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Mow's Coffee

One for the coffee lovers! Expertly-curated speciality menu comes to city centre venue with social distancing and takeaway available to see you through the new lockdown restrictions.

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Nestled in the front section of Laundry on Arundel Street, Mow’s Coffee boldly opened its doors at the end of September, serving up sumptuous coffee and sweet treats aplenty. I stopped by for a chat with cafe partner Sam Gilmer to hear more about his new venture.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how Mow's Coffee got started.

I’ve worked around coffee for ten years. I started in restaurants, working with high-volume, high-turnover coffee, and within a year of starting at Carluccio’s I won their Barista of the Year competition which made me think I could take coffee further than just making hundreds of cappuccinos.

Since then coffee’s been a personal passion. I worked for Tamper as a senior barista and was head barista at Forge Bakehouse, so I’ve grown into the speciality side of the industry and Mow’s was an opportunity for me to put my spin on what I’ve learnt.

I responded to an advert from The Mowbray saying they were looking for a coffee partner. For the last five years I’ve thought about having my own cafe so this was a really good way of getting that without the risk of doing it alone. Obviously the cafe interior was already done, so it’s just been a case of overlaying my coffee ethos onto what was already here. It’s going slowly but growing week on week.

You're incredibly passionate about coffee. How did you go about creating your coffee menu?

I’ve created a select menu option that covers every size, and given size options for drinks where it’s appropriate so you can have a large latte, cappuccino or americano, but things like a flat white or a cortado are a certain measure so they don’t have different size options.

There’s no pretence or over-engineering. It’s just a simple, well-curated, quality menu. If someone wants to ask I can tell them the origin of the coffee they’re drinking, how it’s been processed and which farm it came from, but if someone just wants a latte that’s absolutely fine too.

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In addition to coffee, you're serving up a range of edible treats. Tell us about those.

We have tray bakes from The Mowbray kitchen, including brownies, bakewells and flapjacks. They’re baked to coincide with their events, so there’s a correlation between their supper clubs and our daytime offering. We’re not always sure what we’re going to get but we know it’ll be something good.

We’ve outsourced breakfast pastries to 4eyespatisserie, so we get croissants and danishes from them. We’ve also worked with them to create our take on the Kouign-amann, which is a really dense croissant pastry with salted caramel, so it’s crunchy on the outside but it’s almost like a doughnut on the inside.

We started off with sandwiches but because it’s quiet early on we don’t want to be wasting any food. Once we pick up a bit more we’ll bring fresh daily food from The Mowbray again so we’ll do sandwiches, salad boxes, stuff like that. It’s just a case of having the footfall to warrant it, so for now it’s a pretty slimmed-down menu but it’s all really nice stuff.

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Have you had the opportunity to collaborate with other independent traders since opening?

Yes, on the coffee side of things I’ve got a friend who imports coffee from around the world, so for our launch I collaborated with him to get a coffee from a US-based roastery called Proud Mary. We’ve had two coffees from them, one of which has already sold out.

Our other coffee suppliers are both fairly local, so we’ve got Dark Woods and Cuppers Choice. Dark Woods are well-established in the local area and Cuppers Choice are the new boys on the block, living in Sheffield and roasting in Chesterfield.

We’re working on a secret espresso project with Dark Woods. I’ve been secretly testing samples and gauging customer feedback to get the blend exactly how we want it. It should be ready in the next few weeks, so we’ll have our very own Mow’s Coffee espresso blend.

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As social distancing continues, how are you keeping the space as safe as possible for folks popping in and out?

We’ve limited the number of covers inside so there are only two tables available inside and three socially-distanced tables outside - one out the front and two out the back. There’s also a one-way system so you come in the front door and out the side door, and of course the test and trace QR code is on the front counter, so you can check in with the app when you arrive. There are two hand sanitiser stations, one in the middle of the cafe and one at the bar, and takeaway customers wait in their own area, so there’s no crossover of people gathering at the bar trying to order.

We’ve also got the service hatch at the front for takeaway. It’s such a small capacity venue anyway, so there’s only going to be ten people in here at most. I think it’s probably about as safe as it can be.

When can people visit you?

We’re open 9-4, Monday to Saturday.

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