Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Coffee in Birmingham

Now, no doubt it’s not something on everybody’s mind, but for the occasional visitor and about a million residents, the existence of good coffee in Birmingham is an important thing. There is some brilliant Asian food of course, both from the subcontinent and within the surprisingly respectable Chinatown, but has contemporary coffee culture blazed a trail through this low-key city of concrete monoliths?

A tentative ‘yes’ is the short answer, and the best for me was 6/8 Kafé. Located in the north of the city centre (like much of the better stuff, I noticed) it skims the shoppers’ precinct to benefit from footfall, as well as from those in the know.

My long black was fantastic – not too hot, strong, slightly viscous and with a great crème. Beans were courtesy of Has Bean, which of late has been breaking up the Monmouth/Climpson/Square Mile cartel quite vigorously. The interior is comfy enough, with lots of wifi ponces making the most of it, but space is at a premium. Perhaps the sign proclaiming it among the UK’s 50 best indie coffee shops is really pulling them in. Overall, a great little place you’d be chuffed to have nearby.

 Six Eight Kafé on Urbanspoon

Onwards to Urban Coffee, another outlet a little further towards the Jewellery Quarter which seems to have proliferated in Brum with a few outlets dotted about. This place has a characterful mural, a beautiful antique steampunk espresso machine and plenty of seating. Food selection is very limited however (breakfast offers toast or porridge, on weekends!) which was a shame as it’s easily large enough and the niche is there for a modern, cosmopolitan brunch menu.

My Americano here was a bit heavy on the volume and thus not strong enough. Perhaps my fault for not ordering a long black – in the best of coffee shops, they will execute different coffees on this distinction. Get it on the board, guys.

Urban Coffee Company on Urbanspoon

And so in pursuit of brunch, we found ourselves next door at Home. This is a deli-cum-farm shop vibe, with lots of twee decorations and crates of fruit and veg. Decent coffee though (Urban’s Americano left this hungover pig with a hankering for more caffeine) and the bacon roll was spot on.

Home Deli on Urbanspoon

Alas still no eggs benny or pancakes to be found on my wanderings, Birmingham…so where is the good stuff? While there is definite scope to avoid the chains and get decent coffee in this city formerly known as second, there is still a lot more potential.


  1. You'll find the Bennies in Urban's JQ place - they don't have a kitchen to cook them in Church Street! Also highly recommend Brewsmiths for breakfast (& coffee) - the best value in town. Few more coffee shops for you to try too!
    Pancakes and french toast remain elusive in Brum though.

  2. I see - somebody did tell me on Twitter Urban did hot food! Oh well, will have to revisit. Thanks for the tips, and the comment.

  3. They all look like lovely venues.