Tag Archives: Cielo

Cielo, Garforth – The North’s Coffee Community pt VI

Last Saturday I visited a coffee shop that’s on the outskirts of Leeds; one that would probably have never been on my radar until North Star’s Latte Art Throw Down last year. This is Cielo Coffee House in Garforth, found on the edge of Leeds borough. 


Twitter is such a brilliant tool for communicating with people, so after a couple of conversations with Andrew Macbean, their Head barista, I headed over that morning. Having a full-on teaching job that regularly leaks into my free time out of school, I like to make the most of the rest of it and cram in as much as possible. That Saturday comprised of a visit to Cielo, my first Kirkstall Deli Market, a cinema fix and Derren Brown at The Grand Theatre. In my book that’s a  pretty decent Saturday!


As far as Garforth goes it’s not a place I know that much about, apart from Dumouchel Bakery and the Miller & Carter Steakhouse. So having a decent independent coffee house must bring a tremendous amount to the community.

Cielo was the brainchild of Linda and Nick Castle, the idea of starting a coffee shop resulted from a late night discussion in 2008. When asked the question what they’d like to do if money was no object, they both decided they wanted to do something more worthwhile and fulfilling rather than their day-to-day jobs; something which would allow interaction with their community. Setting up a social enterprise in the heart of the area was the solution, where they would source everywhere as locally and ethically as possible, and also commit to putting all the profits back into the local community. 

This social enterprise has two main aims; to help build better community cohesion and reduce isolation and loneliness. One of the things they’ve integrated into the running of the shop is a volunteering scheme, with people who want to get back into work or NEET’s (Young people who aren’t in Not in Education, Employment or Training) from Garforth Academy. There’s even an 84 year-old gentleman who works at the shop too!


In terms of the coffee, they serve a House Espresso blend and House Single Origin coffee from roasters Has Bean. They also serve a range of Suki teas for those partial to a beverage of the tea variety.



Their baked goods come from a range of well-known and trusted local suppliers, such as Garforth’s Dumouchel Bakery, That Old Chestnut, and the brownies are made by Adam, one of their baristas, who originally started as a volunteer. 




I’d been up since 4:30am, (my usual waking up time) and was in need of a pick-me-up, so an espresso was in order. It hit the spot and combined with a Dumouchel bake, the Almond and Pain aux Chocolat, which was MAHOOSIVE and extremely delicious, I was set up for the rest of the day!


After spending just a couple of hours at Cielo I felt a tangible sense of friendliness and community from the outset. Their loyal following from Garforth locals was obvious to see, as when I arrived a few minutes before opening time, there was already a number of customers waiting to go in!! It seemed like a place for all ages and a family friendly place too.

In the future Cielo are going to start roasting their own beans with their own micro roaster.  It’s a great idea, which means they can directly source from farmers and hopefully not only use the coffee in the shop, but also sell it as well. Nick also aims to expand the enterprise in order to help other communities.

There may never be a reason for you to venture into Garforth, but if you ever do you should definitely pop into Cielo, where the phrase ‘coffee community’ takes on a whole new meaning.


Cielo Coffee House
41 Main Street
LS25 1DS
0113 286 3534

North Star Latte Art Throwdown @ North Star Micro Roasters, Leeds

One of my 2013 blog highlights was North Star Micro Roasters Inaugural Cupping Event.  Since their initial launch North Star have gone from strength to strength, building a large following of coffee lovers in Leeds and beyond.


Wednesday was the day of their Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown Championships, held at their premises in Meanwood. I’ve been a little obsessed with the whole latte art thing over the last few months after seeing a latte with a Darth Vadar design, to the point where I’ve even been really sad watching YouTube clips and making my husband watch them! 

For people not in the know, Latte art is where coffee is made by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso which results in a  pattern on the surface.

headed down after school with my friend Alice to meet some coffee folk, watch in awe and of course take some photos!! We’d wondered which baristas would be competing, with such great places to get coffee in Leeds at the moment we were optimistic, such as Laynes, Opposite, Mrs Athas and La Bottega Milanese to name a well known few. really decent crowd were already there when we arrived at North Star Headquarters, and Krag and Ellis, the boys at the helm of North Star were there hosting.  

When Ellis announced the competitors we weren’t far wrong, representing Leeds were baristas from Froth ‘n’ Fodder, Cielo, La Bottega Milanese, Mrs AthasNotes and also Ellis from North Star. Also vying for the crown were baristas from further afield – Bean and Bud and Baltzersens hailing from HarrogateUpshot Espresso from Sheffield, Grumpy Mule from Meltham and finally Crema Espresso from Bridlington.


Independent food produce was also on show during the event with fantastic bread from theLeeds Bread Co-op, paired with yummy chutney fromMade by Jim, unctuous brownies and caramels from Sarah at Noisette Bakehouse, and lastly beautiful meat and cheese platters supplied byBaltzersens.

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Ok, so apologies for my trigger happy camera finger, I know it happens a lot, but I managed to take 300+ photos during the evening!!! I’ve tried to be good and have whittled it down to a compilation of photos that hopefully tell the tale of the competition.

The rules for the 1st round were that competitors would battle it out head to head, they could pour any design they wanted into a 6oz cup, using a 12oz jug. Being watched by eagle-eyed judges – Adam from Opposite Cafe, Carl from Layne’s Espresso and Krag from North Star, competitors were judged using the following criteria:

  • balance and symmetry
  • colour definition
  • use of space
  • the overall pour

All of to be done under pressure with a crowd of their peers and latte art admirers!!!Here’s a compilation of the 1st round pours:

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In the 2nd round the ten remaining baristas had to pour a rosetta:

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Tulips were up next in the semi-finals:

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So after three rounds of a closely contested battle, the field of twenty hopefuls was down to the final three: Lenka (Bean and Bud), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso).

In the final round they had to use a 12oz jug to make a latte in a 6oz cup but also a piccolo, being as artistic as they dared with the design.

Matt from Mrs Athas
Matt from Mrs Athas
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Lenka from Bean and Bud
Lenka from Bean and Bud

The judges took a few minutes to deliberate and come to an agreement over their scores, in the meantime the crowd and the competitors waited with baited breath.


A few minutes later Ellis announced the winner of this years Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown – Oakley from Crema Espresso!! He was the clear winner, with Lenka from Bean Bud in 2nd and Matt from Mrs Athas in 3rd. All very well deserved!!

The winner – Oakley from Crema Espresso!!!


So another great event at North Star, an evening full of shaky hands, tense moments, great camaraderie and sportsmanship. It was fantastic to meet some of the North’s independent coffee community and see them come out in force! Here’s to more cupping events and throwdowns in the future!!!

North Star Micro Roasters

Unit 27
Penraevon Industrial Estate
Jackson Road
Meanwood Road