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Stephenson’s Coffee & Tea House in Chesterfield, England

International Brunch Review
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Britain was burning—and I landed in Manchester last Monday morning in the middle of the most violent riots the country had seen, confirming my knack for perfect timing. I was there for a week of vacation, to visit family all over the Midlands, and it was quite possibly the worst week to visit the country.

Gangs of children had decided to light cities on fire. Shops and buildings that made it through the World War II blitz were suddenly destroyed by 12-year-olds in Adidas hoodies. The youth was angry and violent, and their frustration spread through every other city across the country within a few days.

And so there I was, stuck and stranded in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, where my grandma, aunt and uncle live. We didn’t even go into town at night for fear there were kids with baseball bats waiting. During the day, when we did nip into town, it was to get some groceries or tea, as you do when the standard pub fare of “What do you want with your chips (fries)?” starts to get old.

Stephensons_Landscape

But at least the scenery was beautiful. Staying in Derbyshire is like spending a week in Jane Austen’s world—nothing but rolling hills carved into a patchwork quilt by centuries-old stone walls. It was my grandma’s 84th birthday on Tuesday, so we stopped by a chocolate shop in town to pick her up some sugar-free sweets. Upon the owner’s recommendation, we made our way down the road to a lovely café for some tea.

Stephenson_Coffee

My dad, Papa Love, swore up and down that he spent his youth in Stephenson’s Coffee & Tea House, hanging out there on Saturdays before going to the cinema across the street. But when we inquired with the owner, we learned the café has only been open for about five years. I had suspected it was relatively new, as the sleek wooden floors and tables with glass tops were nearly untouched.

You have to climb three flights of stairs to get there, but once you’re up, it’s lovely and bright and airy. The windows of the café overlook the bustle of Chesterfield’s high street, and the windows from stairs frame the town’s infamous Crooked Spire perfectly. It’s peaceful and warm, and the staff is exceptionally welcoming.

Stephensons_Window

Once he was corrected, Papa Love then conjectured that the café is named after George Stevenson, who invented the steam train. Apparently Stevenson lived in Chesterfield, giving the town another claim to fame.

We didn’t brunch at Stephenson’s—Brits don’t really brunch, per se. Instead, we had some coffee, tea, and pastries and went on our merry way. The place was empty, though, because we had made a morning pit stop, and Brits don’t really have their tea until about 4 o’clock.

Stephensons_DiningRoom

The great thing about this café is that the teas are locally sourced and the cakes and pastries homemade. But what is the difference between a scone, a tart, a cake, and a crumpet? I asked my dad, Papa Love, who explained it like this:

A crumpet is a cratered flat cake. Toasted and covered in butter, so that it drips into the holes, it’s what you Americans like to call English muffins, but really there’s no such thing as a proper English muffin.

Stephensons_Scones

Scones look like biscuits, and sometimes have raisins baked into the pastry. They should be eaten with clotted cream and strawberry jam (cut the scone in half and spread the jam). A tart is a pastry with jam or fruit topping, and sometimes comes with cream or custard poured on top.

Stephensons_CrookedSpire

Now that you’re armed with that knowledge, you can head to England for proper tea, not brunch. Just be sure to pick a week without riots.

Stephenson’s Coffee & Tea House
11 Stephenson Place
Chesterfield, England S40 1XL
01246 205111

Stephenson’s Coffee & Tea House serves breakfast daily until 11 a.m.

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