AA Abbott is a British crime thriller writer and loves her coffee! Returning to guest blog for Coffee Birmingham, she pays a visit to Tilt and laps up its many treats.
Tilt is located in the beautiful, but under-loved, City Arcade off Union Street. It describes itself as a craft beer café and coffee shop, but it’s with pinball that it really scores. With a row of glowing, buzzing beasts by the door and more in the basement, it’s a great place to hang out with friends the old-fashioned way. There’s the obligatory free wi-fi to bring life back to the digital age, especially handy for freelance workers with their laptops.
Beer is served from midday until late. The current selection includes Belgian-style wheat beer and Wiper & True’s Milkshake Milk Stout, the ale that thinks it’s vanilla ice cream. It’s a good introduction to beery pleasure for those who don’t think they’ll like it – the closest craft beer gets to an alcopop.
But what of the coffee? There’s filter and espresso on offer, with bags of coffee to take away so you can replicate the taste at home. (Hint: in my experience, like holiday wine or a hairdresser’s creation, it’s never the same.) I had an unctuously creamy latte with a hint of bitterness: delicious, and ten times better than anything the international coffee shop chains could produce, but like the milk stout, it wouldn’t frighten the horses.
Tilt also serves tea, hot chocolate and a selection of home-made cakes. My carrot cake, spruced up with walnuts and buttery frosting, was the best I’ve ever had. Even better, the slice was so huge that it substituted for breakfast.
First thing in the morning, Tilt was quiet, hosting a few freelances and shoppers stopping for a coffee. It was easy to hear the background soundtrack of punchy eighties anthems. At noon, chat levels rose. The café was significantly busier as the lunchtime crowd drifted in to play pinball. I imagine the joint is jumping in the evening too. It deserves to be.
The café is simply decorated – perhaps too simply – but other than that, Tilt does the basics very well indeed. It offers carefully chosen coffee, cake and beer served without fuss, a chance to chill alone or with friends, and a side order of pinball. What more do you need?
Tilt website: http://tiltbrum.com/
Tilt Twitter: https://twitter.com/tilt_brum
Tilt Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tiltbrum/
AA Abbott website: http://aaabbott.co.uk/
AA Abbott Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAAbbottStories
AA Abbott Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AAAbbottStories/
Believe it or not, Moseley’s Java Lounge celebrates 10 years in business this month culminating in a celebration at Java Lounge on Saturday 28th February.
Java’s CEO Akram Almulad talks to Coffee Birmingham about the journey to date.
So, how did Java Lounge start?
Java Lounge was started with a small budget but with a big vision. Our humble beginnings started on King Edward Road in Moseley before moving to bigger premises five years later on the Alcester road where we trade from today. We had limited resources but always made coffee our focus. This has always been at the centre of everything. We built up a small but loyal group of customers who have followed us on this journey and have helped Java Lounge become what it is today.
We started off with a small single group coffee machine and basic grinders, where we developed our barista skills. Our mission statement has always been to deliver ‘your perfect coffee moment, every time’. We continued in this pursuit of delivering the perfect cup of coffee. This took us to many barista courses and seminars, learning about coffee from its beginning to the point it reaches the customer. We upgraded all our coffee equipment several years ago in order to help us reach the necessary level of quality and consistency. We now have a La spaziale S40 and have On demand grinders to help us achieve the perfect cup of coffee.
What about your passion for coffee?
We are passionate for coffee. This stems from our rich heritage coming from our country of origin, Yemen. Widely accepted as the birthplace of the first coffee plant purposely grown for consumption, Yemen was one of the first hubs of coffee culture, attracting philosophers, writers, artists, architects and poets to form a social and creative center of knowledge. Java Lounge aspires to encapsulate the essence of this tradition.
We linked up with an independent coffee roaster who shared our passion and had the expertise of roasting for almost 30 years. We have worked closely together for the past five years, maintaining the standard and quality of our coffee. Where we differ to many other coffee houses is that we personally have a hands on approach with roasting our coffee. We understand that coffee is a natural product that changes from batch to batch. We therefore work on a taste profile whereby we tweak our coffee constantly to achieve our unique flavours for our two house blends.
Tell us about some of your achievements
We have competed in the UK barista championships in the last 2 years where our Head Barista Omar Al-Sabahi fared really well and had a lot of good feedback from the judges.
We have become a niche supplier of quality coffee in the last couple of years where we supply exotic coffees, in particularly Yemeni Mocha Ismaili coffee, which is obtained directly from our shared coffee fields in Yemen.
We have continued re-investing in the business over the last 10 years. We opened our basement area in 2011, and carried out a major refurbishment at the end of 2013. Within the refurbishment we put together the Java Lounge coffee story, which was designed as a large mural explaining and educating customers about the coffee they are drinking.
It has been an emotional roller coaster, but it has definitely been worth it.
What have you seen change around you in Moseley and Birmingham?
We recall a time when we first started when people were coming in asking for instant coffee, we have come a long way from that now. We have seen an influx in brilliant independent businesses particularly in independent coffee houses with a really good standard of coffee. As a city, Birmingham has embraced coffee culture and I believe we have some of the best coffee houses in the country.
In Moseley the same has happened, it has developed into a coffee hub. We feel proud to have played a key part in this.
What the future holds for Java Lounge?
We are currently in the process of opening our second store on the Colmore Row in Birmingham City Centre. We have launched our own brand of coffee packs selling our 2 popular house blends and also selling our exotic Yemeni Mocha coffee.
Details of the celebration on the 28/02/15? / Any deals or offers to commemorate the anniversary?
We are preparing to celebrate our 10 year anniversary on Saturday 28th February 2015 between 9am – 9pm. We will be giving out cake and finger foods including coffee samples of our single origin coffee for all to enjoy. We will also be selling some 10 year anniversary mugs to commemorate the occasion.
Coffee Birmingham congratulates Java Lounge on getting to ten years. Here’s to the next ten years! For more information on Java Lounge us on our website: www.javaloungecoffee.com
I bring brilliant news as Six Eight Kafe finally opens its much anticipated second branch at Millennium Point!
It all kicks off with a launch party this evening. As I now do regular work over in Eastside, this is most definitely going to become a new regular Eastside destination for me from here on in.
I cannot wait to see what treats are on the menu beyond just the coffee shop itselfs. Congratulations to all the team at Six Eight Kafe on the launch and a big thanks to Dev for allowing me to publish these brilliant preview pictures of the fantastic looking new coffee shop.
Popping up on the Birmingham coffee scene are speciality roasters, Origin coffee. Already a partner of the city favourite Urban Coffee (they are the roasters behind their most fantastic Urban5 blend), they’ve now brought speciality coffee to Selfridges at The Bullring.
The Origin espresso bar is headed by two familiar faces on the Birmingham scene, Alex Scott and Ben Dargue.
Here Alex chats about speciality coffee and his new espresso bar at Selfridges.
The word ‘speciality’ is banded around a lot in the coffee world, but what exactly does it mean?
In my mind, it’s the pursuit of coffee excellence, which is achieved through care and craftsmanship being applied at every point in the supply chain. It starts with the grower and their farming practices, with commitment to producing superb crops in a way that delivers on environmental and social sustainability. Then to the mills and the processing of the crops. Then the exporter. Then the roasters, and developing the perfect profile to enhance the coffee beans. The end point is then us, the barista. It’s our job to not only make the perfect cup through skills in areas such as extract ratios and the science of milk, but by us loving what we do and passing this passion on to our customers.
When you compare this to mass market coffee, which is bought in bulk from multiple growers without traceability or provenance, and then darkly roasted so that it all blends to taste the same, you start to get the gist. It’s no different to craft wine or beer and whilst it sounds clichéd it’s all about care and passion at every point along the way.
How did you get into speciality coffee?
I was invited along to the opening of an artisan coffee shop. I’d never been that into coffee, as it had never really delivered for me. It always smelt better than it tasted. At the opening the team there were really passionate and encouraged me to buy a latte. I was amazed at the taste – it was really interesting, with notes of liquorice and chocolate. One latte totally changed my perspective on coffee. It wasn’t that long before I started working there and my real exploration into coffee started.
How would you convince someone to switch from a mass market coffee brand to speciality?
It’s a difficult one as you can easily sound patronising. To me it’s getting people to try first, as happened with me. Once they realise how incredible and interesting really great coffee can taste, they won’t need convincing. However, it does need to be served with passion and knowledge about the origin and processing.
Tell us a bit about Origin and why you joined them?
Their coffee tasted great – that was what first drew me to them. I also knew they were doing a good job with how they sourced their green coffee. It goes back to my view on speciality – I knew they had the care and passion. They also roast on a low carbon emissions roaster – again, it’s all about values and ethics, and that was important to me.
Why should people come to the Origin espresso bar?
For all the reasons above. Plus we have a brand new espresso machine at our disposal – amazing. We want to share incredible coffee with Birmingham. What more can I say?
And on your days off… what main brewing method do you use?
There are three (well, two really…). Number 1 is the AeroPress. It’s my go-to as always produces consistent results and captures everything the bean has to offer. Number 2 is a 600ml Kalita Wave Carafe. It produces great results too. Then number 3 is actually theoretical, as I don’t have one yet… it’s a syphon. My dream brewer.
Big thanks to Alex and all at Origin for their support. You’ll find Alex and the joyful the new Origin espresso bar on the Food Hall level 1 at Selfridges Birmingham. Twitter: @originselfridge
We welcome guest blogger Andy Hare to Coffee Birmingham to offer up his appreciation of Madeleine.
Question: Can artisan coffee house Madeleine conjour up images of a Parisian Cafe?
So on a Saturday, my wife and I ventured into Cafe Madeleine and entered a relaxed, inviting space, full of atmosphere and great food and coffee.
Cafe Madeleine is a smart and chilled place, reminiscent of a Parisian Cafe, but with a English twist. It has a chandelier and a very large bouquet of fresh flowers that you pass as you walk in.
At the entrance you notice the fresh bread on the shelves, it has its own bakery and makes its cakes and bread in house.
What makes Madeleine different to other artisan coffee houses is that it provides such superb salads, and hot food as well as cakes, as the counter full of food demonstrates.
Madeleine has a counter service, you order at the till and then your food is delivered to the table. This works really well as you can choose what you would like and how much.
One of the first challenges of ordering at Madeleine is deciding what to eat. We decided to go with a fresh salad to begin with some fresh orange juice and then have a coffee with some cake to follow.
I decided upon a mixture of 3 salads for £7. I had two vegetarian salads, Pumpkin and ricotta x2 and a mixed grilled veg and mixed bean salad. Both were delicious, fresh and large, with a real flavour of the ingredients, both thoughtful and well sourced, which I enjoyed.
The orange juice was lovely too, freshly squeezed and went well with the vegetarian salad.
Afterwards, we ordered two cappuccinos from their artisan coffee list and a chocolate brownie to share.
The coffee was a generous size, well made, with a good coffee blend and strength. The froth was the right consistency and it came over as being authentically Parisian in its strength and look. It was a good cappuccino.
The brownie was beautiful, one of the best I’ve tasted in Birmingham. It had a good chocolatey flavour, rich, but delicate and not too heavy, with good chocolate pieces. It complimented the cappuccino well.
The service is relaxed and friendly. Madeleine is affordable, good value for the quality on offer and a bit different to other coffee shops in Birmingham. It is a good place for lunch, or mid afternoon cake. It is also open for breakfasts. The coffee is lovely.
Cafe Madeleine is well recommended for its relaxing air and lovely food and coffee. It has charming Parisian style with a Birmingham twist.
My name is Andy Hare.
I write a vegetarian food and dining blog called
Veggie Foodie www.vegiefoodie.com. I love coffee shops for their atmosphere and and have a regular slot on my blog called #Coffeetime where I review and promote independent coffee shops in Birmingham and beyond.
We are delighted to welcome Lee Thomas from local business Urban Roast Coffee who has written a insightful blog piece about what it is work in a roastery!
So have you ever thought about where your coffee comes from, that beautiful cup of black magic with a comforting aroma.
Well for a start when it arrives at our roastery it is a small green bean that smells of grass.
Our hessian sacks come from faraway places and distant shores which give us a great starting point.
Coffee is a bit like wine, different regions and altitudes produce different flavours and characteristics, the art of the roaster is to bring these together and produce a beautiful coffee that showcases the best of that bean.
Some coffee is known for its light floral notes others for its deep dark chocolate taste so depending on the individuals personal preference there is an abundance of coffee out there waiting to be discovered.
When we profile a coffee we will put multiple batches through the roaster at different settings – Hot and fast, low and slow, we manipulate the roasting process in order to get a wide variety of taste results from that coffee.
When we are roasting coffee we log a number of settings off the roaster. These settings all affect the taste of the coffee. These settings are things like Starting Temperature, the air temperature and environment temperature in the drum of the roaster and most important we log the temperature of the beans. All of these readings are taken every 30 seconds so we end up with an in depth graph of that roast.
Once we are happy with the roast we then move onto the cupping stage, which is a bit like wine tasting but with a lot less spitting. We usually taste (or cup) up to 6 different versions of the same coffee so we are happy we have covered as many different settings for that coffee as possible.
We move slowly through our roasted samples where we taste and score the coffee. We do this in order to find the best results and at what settings we obtained those results at.
We often end up with several samples that we like, so at this point we will look at the roasting profile settings and merge those together to end up with the perfect roasting profile for that coffee.
We will do this process for every coffee we supply as each coffee has its own unique flavour and it gives us a blueprint to roast to so we always producing the best coffee we can.
So now you have a basic knowledge of what we the coffee roasters do. We may be the people behind the scenes, but when you are sitting enjoying your great tasting coffee you can be safe in the knowledge that a whole lot of care and passion was put into that little green bean to make it taste the way it does.
More about Urban Roast Coffee Company
The Urban Roast Coffee Company is an Independent artisan coffee roastery based in the midlands. Roasting in small quantities allows them to offer truly fresh roasted coffee direct to our customers doorstep. They roast on a daily basis so their coffee is always the freshest it can be when you receive it.
We are the lucky ones…. every day at Urban Coffee Company is a celebration of that wonderful, pick-me-up nectar we like to call coffee! However, since UK Coffee week began it has been so fab that once a year we are given the chance to take part in something really exciting and join a nationwide celebration.
Not only does UK Coffee Week give roasters, coffee shops and baristas a chance to really shout about what they do, it also gives the UK Coffee industry a chance to give something back to the communities which grow the coffee that we so depend on to get through the day!
Now, we are half way though the week and across all three emporiums, tip jars have been replaced with donation boxes. We are holding a ‘guess the weight of the coffee’ competition all week with the prize being a fabulous coffee cupping and tasting set. We’ve already got the first lot of filled in ‘silent quiz sheets’ in – pick up a question sheet from any of our emporiums – for just a quid – and you will be in with a chance to win a months’ worth of free coffee from us!
And of course, all monies raised go straight to Project Waterfall.
And, if that’s not enough, we’re having a Fancy Dress Friday on the 11th April – so get ready for our Urbanistas to be shaking their buckets at you!
Even our Meet-Ups and Events will be helping us to do our part with UK Coffee Week – after all, they are all part of our very own coffee-loving community, such as a UK Coffee Week themed Jelly on the 11th at #JQ and Kaffee und Kuchen at #CS on the 13th.
We are really enjoying this UK Coffee Week, so please make sure you give generously whenever you’re in a participating vendor – Project Waterfall is something really worth getting involved in!
Thanks very much to Peter for his guest blog this week. In addition to Urban Coffee Company, Java Lounge in Moseley are another indie in town who are actively supporting #ukcoffeeweek, so be sure to get involved and donate if you can. `
I am delighted to welcome Jessica Rose to guest write about Icelandic coffee culture. As someone who has been to Iceland and experienced their fantastic coffee culture first hand, it is great to have Jess offering some fantastic insights and comparisons between their coffee culture and what us Brummies experience!
Coming from Birmingham, the most striking thing about Reykjavik’s coffee culture is what’s missing. The big corporate coffee brands aren’t to be found here. The nearest thing you can find to a Starbucks or Costa is Te & Kaffi, an Icelandic chain with just 8 locations across the county that opened in the 80s and helped launch Iceland’s love affair with great coffee.
What both Birmingham and Reykjavik do share are a growing number of independent coffee houses with incredibly loyal fanbases.
While Brummies hotly debate the merits of Urban Coffee over 6/8 etc., our Icelandic counterparts declare their loyalty to Tui Dropar or Kaffitar (ed: a personal favourite). With only 120,000 people in the city, Reykjavik still sports over a dozen independent coffee shops, each drawing its own loyalists. Icelandic coffee houses fill an important social niche, staying open as late as 1 am throughout the week and serving beer, sweets and light meals alongside coffees and mocha. Even outside of the dedicated coffee shops, locally roasted coffee can be purchased in almost any cafe, restaurant or gas station.
In a food culture where vegetarian options are few and far between, Reykjavik’s coffee shops often provide casual vegetarian options, such as Tiu Dropar’s cheese and vegetable sandwiches.
Cafe Loki, just before the Hallgrímskirkja Church supplies tourists and the faithful with coffee as well as its famous rye bread ice cream and Iceland’s infamous fermented shark.
Icelanders are the third largest consumers of coffee by capita and this level of demand has resulted in a network of high quality coffee houses. These coffee shops have begun working together to build an overarching cafe culture through shared supply chains, education and events. Reykjavik recently hosted the 2013 Nordic Barista Cup and hold regular workshops and events to help develop the Icelandic coffee scene.
Jessica is an American transplant, living in Birmingham. She blogs about tech and programming at www.closetoclever.com and has collected a list of Icelandic vegetarian dining options at : http://closetoclever.com/vegetarian-options-iceland/
So what do you think we can learn or even benefit from other country’s coffee cultures? Join the conversation at @coffeebrum.
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.
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.
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.
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”
My gallery is at the Custard Factory, Digbeth, come along.