Nestled in the Peak District in Hope Valley is the Grasshopper Cafe. We had a chat with cafe owner Mel about pizza, coffee and autumnal sweet treats. Be sure to pay them a visit next time you take a stroll in The Peaks.
Tell us a little bit about the Grasshopper Cafe and how it got started.
We’re passionate about good food and coffee and after having corporate careers, we decided to give them up to run a mobile wood-fired pizza business. We worked long hours in the summer but winters were hard, outside in all weathers and tougher conditions. We wanted a permanent base and love the Peak District – not only does it have amazing scenery but it’s also close to Manchester and Sheffield, making it very liveable. We felt there was a gap in the market for a cafe, focussing on the growing speciality coffee market, and simple, contemporary food. We love Hope Valley so when we saw a characterful cafe up for sale, we decided to take a look. We immediately saw its potential (including its amazing views of Win and Lose Hills), and after taking it over we set about refurbishing – restoring its period features, including cleaning the flagstones and beams whilst giving it a more contemporary feel by installing industrial lighting and building a bespoke counter from reclaimed wood.
Your cakes are all homemade with seasonal produce, which of these sweet treats is your current favourite for autumn?
I think our Autumn Apple Cake is my favourite. It’s packed full of juicy Bramley apples with a nice bit of spice and demerara sugar. It suits a more savoury palate too as it’s not too sweet and is great at this time of year.
Coffee is often considered to be at the heart of every great cafe, what makes yours special?
We love coffee and have enjoyed seeing the rise of speciality coffee shops. We wanted to use a local roaster so after quite a bit of research (and lots of coffee) we chose Smith Street, a speciality coffee roasters based in Sheffield. Trev, the founder, has been invaluable to us. He’s helped us with our set up and equipment and is always on hand to answer questions. His Dark Peak and guest roasts are really popular and we aim to make every coffee to a great standard and a cup that we’d love to drink.
Charity fundraising is very important to you, which causes are you currently raising money for?
We support two main charities: The Edale Mountain Rescue Team, a very local charity, run by volunteers who assist people who become injured or unwell whilst out in the High Peak, and the MS Society. Both charities resonate with us: Graham’s dad has MS so this was a natural choice for us and a charity that all our family and friends support. The Edale Mountain Rescue Team is well supported by our customers, most of whom are doing some kind of outdoor activity and could need the team’s assistance at some point. We are always trying to think of ways to raise money for the two charities. We gave a company donation of £205 from a September menu promotion and will do another fundraiser at Christmas. We also have collecting tins in the cafe.
Tell us about Pizza Night on Fridays…
We started off in street food; running a mobile pizza oven at festivals, markets and private events, so it was the natural choice to incorporate pizzas into the cafe. With several campsites nearby and tourists all year round, we thought it could be a popular night-time addition to the local area. We built a custom-made oven in the garden overlooking Lose Hill and set up a gazebo to shelter us from the wind and rain.
We make our own slow-rise dough and tomato sauce, and use British fior di latte mozzarella and British, Italian and Spanish charcuterie. We aim for simple and seasonal flavours with options for meat eaters and veggies and have four pizzas on the menu, average price £6/£7, and open from 5.30pm ’til sell-out. Takeaways are popular but customers can eat in as well (BYO as no licence).
What have we got to look forward to the Grasshopper in the next few months?
We’re getting a wood burner installed this month which will make the cafe even cosier, especially at Christmas. We will also be continuing our pizza nights throughout the winter and will put some Christmas specials on the menu. We’re also planning a collaborative winter event – watch this space!
Interview by Felicity Jackson
Images 1&2: Dan Cook
Image 3 courtesy of Grasshopper Cafe