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

0 Comments

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.

——-

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 dĂ©cor. 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.
1 Comments

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.

——-

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 cafĂ© culture we experience today. However it has taken some time for cafĂ© culture to really take root in Birmingham as experienced in cities and countries who have centuries of cafĂ© culture to speak of. Cities like Venice, Paris, Cairo, Istanbul and London have developed their own cafĂ© culture identity over centuries, and in recent times countries like the US and Australia have also come to develop their own distinct cafĂ© culture.

What distinguishes each of these places is their history of cafĂ© 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 cafĂ© culture and adopt the dominant culture, thereby leaving their cafĂ© 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.

 

0 Comments

Oct

14

Pictures from Urban Coffee Company’s preview launch in Harborne

Urban has a new and lovely emporium which opened today in the newly redeveloped School Yard in Harborne. The decor and atmosphere feels warm and homely and I’m really digging the open bar vibe as well.

Here’s some pics from the soft-launch party last night. I urge you all to get over and check this place out. A fab job has been done by all concerned!

Let us know what you think of Urban’s new emporium in Harborne – tweet to @coffeebrum!! 

 

0 Comments

Oct
13

Guest Blog: CoffeeBrum for Families

Coffee Break - Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adselwood/

At Coffee Birmingham, we are delighted to welcome Iona Burchell, a freelance writer and mum, to guest blog about her favourite family-friendly coffee spots in Birmingham. After reading this, we’d love to know what your family favourite independent coffee spaces are and why? Drop us a tweet and let us know and we’ll pass on your comments too. Enjoy!

—————–

Kings Heath High Street is flourishing and showing the way forward for other high streets across the UK. It’s busy, bustling and bountiful. As a mum of two young children, and because it’s such a busy place, more often than not a trip to the shops on the high street needs to be accompanied by an ‘incentive’ otherwise it just becomes a stressful moaning session.

The incentive usually involves the children choosing which of the lovely coffee shops we will stop at for a drink and a cake each time. There’s a big choice too. Usually it ends up though with plenty of humming and hawing between the Kitchen Garden Cafe or Loco Lounge. Both offer great spots to enjoy a coffee (although clearly not for the children, even if my son insists he likes coffee-at 3 he’s a little bit too young to have anything more than a sip.)

Both offer activities for the children to play with whilst inside. Both offer free wi-fi. My favourite though is Loco Lounge. It’s light, spacious and has plenty of comfy sofas in which to sink whilst taking a break. It’s also got a lovely range of customers, from fellow parents to those having work meetings, to those on office outings and everything in between. The other reason it’s fab-they do a Babyccino of chocolate and milk. Perfect.


My children love the croissants, I love the plastic cups and straws. The children love the games, I love to sit for a moment and watch them playing (destroying) Jenga or Connect Four. I’d love to sneak a peak at the complimentary papers, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. But I enjoy not feeling hassled to move on once our drinks have had their final slurp.


I recommend the hot chocolate topped with marshmallows-a small meal in itself. My husband recommends the Macchiato for coffee lovers. And you have the added bonus of knowing that Loco Lounge supports www.coffeekids.org too.

There’s food as well as plenty of choice to drink. May I heartily recommend the eggy bread or pancakes drizzled with maple syrup. For an extra special treat you can add bacon to the mix too … absolutely gorgeous!

About Iona
Iona Burchell is a freelance writer and copy writer. You can find her on her blog where she spends time documenting her attempts to be a good enough mum. She is also on twitter @redpeffer.

——-

Which are your favourite family coffee places to go in Brum and why? Join in the conversation. Let us know @coffeebrum. 

0 Comments

Jun

11

indieLove co-hosts a special Jelly … Coffee Club!

Our umbrella business, indieLove are delighted to co-host this Jelly with a twist hosted in assocation with our friends official Birmingham #Jelly and Enterprise Nation Club‘s Coffee Club.

Who: freelancers, home workers, solopreneurs, small business owners, field workers, people escaping the office for the day – in fact, everyone is welcome to drop in co-work, collaborate and chat. Other than a laptop you can bring your notebook, craft or just yourself, it’s a great time to clear your diary and think of new ideas. Other than a laptop you can bring your note-book, craft or just yourself, it’s a great time to clear your diary and think of new ideas.

Where:
Friday June 14th from 9am until 2pm at Urban Coffee Company, Jewellery Quarter.

Great, where do we sign up?
Although there is no formal RSVP, we encourage you to sign up at on meetup and or #wewillgather to let your friends know that you’re coming.

About Enterprise Nation Club –
A new modern membership scheme for small businesses. For just ÂŁ20 per year, the scheme offersmany benefits including 25% off all of our books and events and over ÂŁ500-worth of exclusive business benefits.

About Jelly Birmingham
Set up and run by Rickie Josen for over 2 years now, Jelly Birmingham is the established co-working event in Birmingham’s small business calendar.

About IndieLove
Set up in 2013, IndieLove offers affordable products and services to fantastic independent businesses everywhere and does so with a spirit of fun, adventure and opportunity. Follow on twitter and a like on facebook.

For more information on how Jelly started in New York have a look at this or read my article about Jelly in Enterprise Nation here.

0 Comments

Oct

08

Coffee Birmingham – Review and Next Steps

So, a week on from Coffee Birmingham day, here’s a quick piece to reflect on what was a brilliant day, on the last few months in general and to announce what is happening next!

Quickly, on Coffee Birmingham day, I was heartened by the coverage, the reviews and the general positivity from all the customers who frequented independent coffee shops in the build up to and on the day itself. I would like to thank Coffee Brum’s supporters and volunteers, and most importantly the customers who visited the indies on the day itself, many of whom were here for the first time.

The build-up to Coffee Birmingham day and to the launch of Coffee Birmingham itself back in July has been a challenging one, and far more than I have envisaged it would be.

The story of Coffee Birmingham goes back to about this time a year ago when my girlfriend and I discussed the idea of getting Birmingham’s independent coffee shops involved in a large event to showcase, celebrate and drive new customers to independent coffee shops.

Early into 2012, I started to talk to the indie coffee shop owners and baristas about the idea of putting on such an event. A few ideas were exchanged at the time.

Since the early discussions about putting on an event, the shape of Coffee Birmingham has changed in response to the interest, not merely from independent coffee shops, but from partners, sponsors and advertisers who have shown their support for a positive movement promoting independent businesses across Birmingham.

We have achieved a lot in a short space of time:

  • a dedicated movement dedicated to promoting #indielove and showcasing independent businesses across the city with a strong social media presence, especially on twitter and having garnered PR local and radio and newspaper coverage;
  • the buy-in and support from independent businesses across the city;
  • sponsorship from Enterprise Nation and Set and Match
  • advertising support for independent businesses;
  • the launch of the Declaration of Independents which has garnered over 200 names to the support of independent businesses;
  • Superjelly – a supersized version of Birmingham #jelly taking place at three independent coffee shops instead of the usual one;
  • the launch of the Coffee Club Collective’s first exhibition;
  • and, of course, Coffee Birmingham day itself.

Of all of these, securing sponsorship from Enterprise Nation was a major breakthrough in terms of advocating what Coffee Birmingham was doing to support small businesses, but gave me a small amount of marketing budget to pay for some of the costs incurred already on promotional work and design. This has nearly covered my costs but alas not any of my time!

Yet, one thing is for certain, Coffee Birmingham has not been smooth sailing and it has been at times very frustrating. Alas, not every independent coffee shop wanted to be part of the Coffee Birmingham movement, including some for whom I frequent on a regular basis (and still do) which was a real shame.

Furthermore, a number of the coffee shops were not as proactive as I thought they would be, and in the week up to the event, I was not clear about what a few of the coffee shops were doing until the day before the event itself! I was also surprised at the negative comments received by certain baristas publicly and privately towards what I was doing to support them – which was ultimately driving traffic for FREE to the coffee shops.

Yet I have been encouraged by all the indies that have supported and wanted to get involved, so building on this, I am starting a new venture called IndieLove to build celebrate, showcase and build the profile, not just of independent coffee shops, but of all independents.

Coffee Birmingham will become a part of IndieLove and will continue to offer to promote independent coffee shops. IndieLove will be far broader – we will still be promoting and flying the flag for indie businesses, but we will also be offering a range of services to help grow and develop independent businesses across the UK.

A new website is to be launched imminently but in the meantime, keep checking back here for all the latest news and information.

Thanks once again to every person who has continued to support Coffee Birmingham and long live IndieLove!

Tim.

0 Comments

Oct

04

Photos posted on twitter from customers on @coffeebrum day #indielove

Here’s a small sample of images and photos from customers on @coffeebrum day.

Alice Wright – Discovered a love for Chai Lattes @sixeightkate (@alicelouisa2)

Lydia Carney – Tea samples/master brewing class @yorksbakerycafe (@lydiacarney2)

@cybrum – “Potato prints” (@wearecoffeeclub live art workshops at @urbancoffeeco

Matthew Kennard – “Green tea at Yorks Bakery Cafe and a delicious hand pulled pork sandwich, mmmm”  (@appsonthemove)

Alan & Alona – “Brilliant tour of Birmingham with @coffeebrum. Excellent way to see the city, topped of with a cappuccino! #indielove  (@doublehelpings)

@aliceruthrob  #indielove
0 Comments

Oct

02

Podcast from BBC WM Mollie Green Breakfast Show (29/09/2012)

You can listen in here to a podcast of Tim’s interview on Mollie Green’s Breakfast Show last Saturday morning. Tune in after about an hour following the 7am news to listen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00yp4wt

Enjoy!

0 Comments

Oct

01

With thanks to our most excellent events team…

On Saturday, you may have seen our events team across the city in Coffee Birmingham t-shirts

Thanks to their efforts, their spread the word for #indielove and helped to drive traffic to the coffee shops on the day.

We are extremely grateful to Afnan, Adama, Jessica, Mark aka Cybrum, Kat, Lydia, Rachel, Sarah, Sophie and Rickie for their brilliant work.

0 Comments
UA-44896100-1