Mar

08

Guest Blog: Making Art with Coffee? Birmingham based Jinxy Art explains all.

We are delighted to welcome Paul Parkin aka Jinxy Art as a guest blogger to Coffee Birmingham. He is currently exhibiting art at his studio based at the Custard Factory which he has created using coffee grounds. He explains more in his guest blog.

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Painting may not be one of the most obvious uses for coffee but I stumbled across its effects several years ago and have never looked back!

It all started one day whilst painting, I clumsily knocked over the last few remaining drops of my espresso but before reaching for a cloth, I caught the running droplets with my brush and began to paint. The coffee had run in several different directions which after a few flicks became the perfect hand on the portrait I was working on. From that point on I began using coffee to create artwork and so my coffee collection was born.

Jinxy, Audrey

Source: Jinxy Art

As a medium, coffee is versatile to work with; it involves a process of building layers upon layers of coffee to create textures.  I make various strengths of coffee, concentrating and diluting in order to create the different shades I need for each piece. After trial and error I find using the coffee cold rather than hot works best as the solution is less fluid and more malleable. I’ve experimented with different types of coffee from French Roast to Sumatra and, dare I say it, instant! I rotate the brands I use but whether painting with it or consuming it I’d argue quality coffeereaps the best results. I have a few cups whilst working but make I try to make sure I don’t drink my materials.

ballerina, Jinxy

Source: Jinxy Art

The works are created entirely with coffee but when it comes to the subject matter the pieces are varied. My collection includes celebrity icons such as Bob Marley and Audrey Hepburn, a herd of elephants, ballet dancers, zebras and a raging bull (homage to Brum). People seem surprised when they realise the artwork is created with coffee, often touching or smelling the paintings for reassurance! My coffee collection is something different and the work has had a positive reaction from the public, with customers dubbing me anything from “mocha-langelo” to an “espressonist”

old man, Jinxy

Source: Jinxy Art

My gallery is at the Custard Factory, Digbeth, come along.

Coffee 7 Skull, Jinxy

Source: Jinxy Art

Follow JinxyArt:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JinxyArt
Web: www.jinxyart.co.uk

 

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Feb

10

Big shout out to all Brum baristas in UKBC superheats this week

Just a quick message to wish all of our Brum-based baristas competing at the ukbc superheats at Millennium Point this week (9-12 February) the very best of luck.

It’s so great to have the Championships in Birmingham this year. If you can’t get over to Millennium Point this week, you can watch all the action here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ukbc-2014.

Quick congrats to Imogen Ludman from 6/8 Kafe who did such a magnificent job in her presentation this lunchtime!

ukbc

Imogen from 6/8 Kafe in Action (Photo: @sanremouk)

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The judges carefully scrutinising the action at #ukbc14 (Photo: @sanremouk)

From SCAE website: The UK Barista Championship heats will run throughout the four days with baristas from across the country competing in the regional heats together. Regional winners will be announced at the end of the heats and will be awarded to the top scoring barista from their pre-declared region; one each from the 5 regions of – London & South East and East of England, South West and Wales, The Midlands, The North of England & Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Regional winners are not guaranteed a spot in the finals however as these will be based on the top 20 scoring baristas from the entire UK going through to the finals; the finals will be held at The London Coffee Festival (3rd – 6th April  2014)

 

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Jan

30

The Instant Coffee Overthrow

instant

Time to ditch the instant …

This great little infographic comes courtesy of the great folks at Make Decent Coffee. Not only do we share in its spritely sentiment, we believe that this is something offices across the land, and especially in Birmingham, can get behind in 2014.

Why not share it yourselves, or better still, where instant is being served, why not print it out and display it in your office kitchen. Tell your bosses that enough is enough and you no longer want to put with the supposed Barista-style Nescafe. Instead you want proper filters in your office!

Just be sure, when you get to step number 5, you know what you’re dropping it on! 🙂

The Instant Overthrow – An infographic by the team at Make Decent Coffee

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Jan

21

Feature Blog: Should You Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

Pregnant (Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jay_erickson)Most of you reading know and love all things coffee. Indeed, not a week goes by where new medical research is released or articles are published espousing the ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of coffee and/or caffeine intake.

For example, I have just recently tweeted about research from the University of Birmingham, which suggests that coffee hydrates as well as water (click here).

In this guest blog by Peter from CoffeeBuyerUK, the issue of how much to drink when pregnant is one of those important topic areas which is discussed.

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Should You Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

Pregnant (Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch)During pregnancy, you have to be mindful that whatever you are putting into your body you are also putting into your unborn child. One of the concerns many have with coffee, is that it contains a large amount of caffeine and therefore there is a question of what this does to the child.

Effectively, this  means that your body’s nervous and physiological activity is raised; so processes such as your metabolism are sped up, this improves your energy levels and alertness. This may help you feel better on tired spells that your pregnancy is causing you however it may not be overly beneficial for your child.

NHS guidelines suggest that the limit for caffeine intake during pregnancy is 200mg. This is to ensure that your child doesn’t have an overload of caffeine and therefore to prevent any harm in the child’s development. Research has shown that regularly surpassing the daily recommended limit of caffeine intake, can result in underweight babies.

Caffeine content

In terms of caffeine content there is much more in a freshly ground cup of coffee than instant coffee, with instant thought to have 100mg per cup whereas a filter coffee has roughly 140mg per cup.

Equally, in terms of taste and quality, freshly ground coffee is by far the better option. It is healthier too.

If you go for an organic coffee bean then it is free of the additives that are used in the process of freeze drying the instant coffee. Alongside this, the antioxidant properties of coffee are greatly reduced when it comes instant coffee, as when the bean is split, oxygen gets to it which has a derogatory effect on the antioxidant parts of the coffee and also this has an effect on the taste and there is a clear difference between fresh and instant.

Caffeine (Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kellysue)Best Options For Coffee While Pregnant

Although guidelines suggest that a limited amount of caffeine is not a problem during pregnancy, should you wish to be ultra safe then there is the decaf option to allow you the opportunity to still enjoy a cup of coffee with all the taste but without the risk factor.

Yet if you still want to keep the full joys of a cup of coffee then you can, however you need to know what the recommended limits are, in order to not to potentially risk your child. Having either one cup of freshly ground coffee at the very most per day will keep you within the 200mg limit, and therefore should not cause any risk to your child.

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What do you think about coffee drinking whilst pregnant or any other important caffeine related health areas? Let us know your thoughts at @coffeebrum.

Peter works for CoffeeBuyerUK (www.coffeebuyer.co.uk), a UK wide Wholesale Coffee retailers with often stock branded coffees and equipment available to buy online. Follow them on twitter (@coffeebuyeruk), facebook (/coffeebuyeruk) and Google Plus.

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Jan

16

Paul Best: Batting for Birmingham’s coffee shops

Our first guest blog for 2014 and we are delighted to welcome to professional cricketer Paul Best to Coffee Birmingham to account for his glowing experiences of Urban Coffee Company’s Church Street emporium.

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After a busy week and a tough day of training, I was in much need of a bite to eat, a relaxing space and a flat white to take the edge off. I ventured to Church Street to the Urban Coffee Company, where I had often driven past, and been impressed from the outside by the seemingly trendy vibe within.

Urban Coffee Company Birmingham

I was immediately struck by the smart and well-furnished interior. Had I come in a few hours earlier I could have indulged in the porridge that would have been on offer with many different toppings available. However, as it was almost two o’clock and I had not yet had lunch, I decided to go for a festive looking ‘Roast Chicken and Chestnut Stuffing’ sandwich, which I decided to have toasted. It went down a treat especially when accompanied by an excellent Flat White. The Urban Coffee Company advertised their use of a combination of Brazilian and Guatemalan beans and my friend Tom said he picked up on the nutty, almost fruity aspect of the blend as a coffee connoisseur (get him – the big showoff).

Birmingham

Some pretty cool artwork and a large mural on the wall nicely supported the stripped-back and down-to-earth décor. A great feature of the establishment was a number of large beanbags, one of which had the honour of support my frame for a few minutes as I digested my sandwich and coffee (it let me reflect on life’s mysteries in a most comfortable fashion).
Birmingham

I was reading recently that this type of relaxation and idleness was experienced in many of the coffee houses of Europe in the 17th century. However, people were sitting back and watching the world go by one afternoon too many it seems because in England in 1676 Charles II, the king of the day, issued ‘a proclamation for the Suppression of Coffee-Houses’. In it, he banned coffee houses since they had become places of idleness and neglect.

Birmingham

In Constantinople, at a similar time in history, coffee houses were also banned as it was thought they would create a laidback atmosphere during a time of war. Anyone who was seen drinking coffee was sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the Bosphorus! How glad I was that Tom or myself weren’t thrown into the Birmingham Canal for enjoying our coffees this afternoon? Very. That’s how glad.

It’s important to have spaces in the community where you can switch off from the fast-paced world outside. This is certainly such a space. It was refreshing to see only one laptop out and not one person on their phone as the open planned upstairs seemed to create a great environment for discussion and debate whilst surrounded by the eccentric pieces of art (including a large wooden slab with a picture of Pharrel Williams).

I would definitely recommend the Urban Coffee Company for anyone who wants to experience some great quality coffee and food while doing so in a relaxed and quirky space. The next time I come I might have to treat myself to one of their muffins, which looked particularly tempting!

What do you think?
Let us know @coffeebrum or on facebook www.facebook.com/coffeebrum
About Paul
Paul lives in Coventry and is a professional cricketer for Warwickshire County Cricket Club. In the past he has represented and captained England Under 19s. He recently graduated from Cambridge University and studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Studies. He is a keen foodie and a lover of good coffee. Follow Paul at @MerwoodBest
Want to blog for Coffee Birmingham?
Got a great story, issue, debate or idea – get in touch @coffeebrum or email tim@coffeebirmingham.co.uk.
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Dec

15

Guest coffee blog: What Makes a Good Café?

coffee, Coffee

I am delighted to welcome Farooq from Ihya Magazine who goes back in time to discuss the history and characteristics behind what makes a great cafe.

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The growth of independent coffee houses in Birmingham is a good sign that the city is developing as a cultural social hub. Creativity and cafes are synonymous with each other ever since coffee was first discovered both for its delicious taste and ability to keep one awake back in Yemen around the 15th Century, to the impact of coffeehouses upon the Enlightenment; something Steven Johnson explores in his book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation’. Since then coffee houses have evolved as a social lubricant and developed into the vibrant café culture we experience today. However it has taken some time for café culture to really take root in Birmingham as experienced in cities and countries who have centuries of café culture to speak of. Cities like Venice, Paris, Cairo, Istanbul and London have developed their own café culture identity over centuries, and in recent times countries like the US and Australia have also come to develop their own distinct café culture.

What distinguishes each of these places is their history of café culture and how they’ve come to influence the coffee experience, whether it is in the types of coffee made to the whole aesthetic and social experience. However we are now living in a time when we increasingly see cultural boundaries blur as people adopt from different cultures to either make it their own and create something new, or abandon their own café culture and adopt the dominant culture, thereby leaving their café culture indistinguishable.

This is a danger that faces many independent cafes in Birmingham. Style and the aesthetic experience is an important part of the coffee experience, however if the coffee is of a poor standard then it defeats the whole purpose of the café. Style over substance seems to be the scourge of our times and quality of product is often trumped by style. However when the aesthetic style and social experience of a café is built around the coffee then we have the foundations upon which to build a strong coffee culture.

Knowledge of coffee, as in everything, is essential to being the best. This is one reason why I find Java Lounge in Moseley, Birmingham so refreshing because the owner and its star barista really know coffee. What is particularly exciting is how they are actually coming to define a café culture that could not only come to define Birmingham but could also potentially come to define British café culture as a whole. As they draw upon their Yemeni roots from where coffee originated, they are aiming to fuse East and West café cultures together to create something quite unique. Consequently if you want to know what makes a good café, a good starting point is to speak with the owners of coffee independents, and if they exhibit the depth of knowledge and passion that can only be matched by delicious coffee then know you have found something truly special.

Farooq is a scientist, and writes a science blog on Scilogs and is editor of a blogzine called ihya that curates the cultural trends of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

 

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Dec

04

Guest Blog: A Parting Shot by Hayley Campbell-Gibbons

We are delighted to welcome Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, editor of Our Daily Cup, to guest blog for Coffee Birmingham and offer her insights and recommendations on the state of play of coffee in restaurants.

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A Parting Shot by Hayley Campbell Gibbons

As a Brummie lass, born and bred, this great city will always hold a special place in my heart, but – as is true for most of those we hold dear – sometimes a bit of tough love is needed. So, it is with Birmingham’s best interests in mind that I have made the difficult decision to call in the caffeine police, because there are some serious coffee crimes going down.

Last month three of Birmingham’s restaurants featured in The Times’ top 100 eateries in Britain – something that a city once famed only for its balti should be proud of! But, what happens after the starters have been cleared, the mains are away and the dessert plates licked clean? We order a coffee of course. And that’s where it all falls down.

Chefs scour the country to unearth the finest ingredients known to man or beast, and sommeliers leave no stone unturned in their quest to seek out new world wines to tantalise the taste-buds. But, when it comes to the coffee – the culinary climax, if you like – there isn’t a barista to be found for love, nor money.

Instead you’re more likely to find a harassed waitress or browbeaten barman being let loose on a top grade espresso machine doing the best job they can, with little or no knowledge (save what they can recall from the machine engineer who came to plumb the thing in over a year ago). I’ll go out on a limb here and say that – in my experience – restaurant coffee is a load of tosh. If you look carefully, you may even see a little tear forming at the end of the steam wand as the machine quietly grieves for the life it should have had.

I want to make a plea – in fact, I’ll go the whole hog and start a campaign – for better restaurant coffee. My message to any eating establishment worth its salt is this: Coffee is part of the meal, so give it the same love and respect you would show to anything else on the menu. You have two choices:

1.     Ditch the espresso machine and focus on serving one type of coffee and serving it well.  Either perfect the art of French press (another method of brewing that is often done a disservice, but we’ll leave that for another time) or get to grips with Aeropress. This style of coffee will provide a fool proof and elegant end to any meal.

Or;

2.     If you’re reluctant to abandon espresso, pay a visit to one of the city’s inspiring independent coffee houses (Yorks, Saints, 6/8, Urban – take your pick!) and see how it’s done. Observe the skill, knowledge and attention to detail required to make good coffee, and then ask if they’d be willing to run a barista course for you and your staff. It will be an investment that your customers will thank you for.

So, restaurants of Birmingham, here’s a chance to make your parting shot one that leaves a lasting impression for all the right reasons, rather than a bitter taste in the mouth.

For more on Our Daily Cup, follow them on twitter.

What do you think? Tell us about your restaurant coffee experience – good and bad using the hashtag #restaurantcoffee. We’d love to hear more from you.


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