Jan

26

Guest blog: What does your favourite cup of Joe say about you?

joe

I’m delighted to welcome coffee lover Nikki Radvanyi to Coffee Birmingham, who asks “what does your favourite cup of Joe say about you?”. Let’s find out shall we!

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The UK has gone coffee-ga-ga!  According to Real Coffee’s coffee encyclopaedia, we spent £730 million on coffee last year! Coffee is now seen as an affordable essential rather than an unnecessary luxury and we are prepared to pay the best part of £5 for a good cup of Joe.  But what does your choice of coffee say about you?  A recent study revealed the choice of coffee you order from the barista may say more about you than you think it does*.

joeThe Americano
You are old school, a bit of a purist and like things simple.  You can be quiet and sometimes moody.  You don’t like change and your friends and family would describe you as a ‘no non-sense’ kind of person. Nothing wrong with traditional and simple, right?

joeDecaf, half-fat, soya, no foam
You admit to being obsessive about what you eat and drink and probably get quite upset if the coffee shop does not have the ingredients you prefer.  You are a perfectionist and very aware of your own health.  You can be over-sensitive, especially when the queue is tutting behind you and are likely to worry, but hey, if it worked for Meg Ryan in You Got Mail!!!!!

joeLatte
You are a comfort seeker and love the feeling that lots of milk and cream give you; a hug in a mug! You like to soften the bitterness of life and often chose drinks and food that make you feel better.  You are generous with your time and like to help others, but sometimes at the expense of yourself. “Hey, add a dollop of cream and don’t forget the sprinkles!”

joeFrappuccino
You are a trendsetter.  You love to try the latest thing.  You are spontaneous, imaginative, however, you can be reckless and you don’t always make healthy choices.  You love the feeling of brain freeze that a Frappuccino gives you! Cold, cold, cold, cold, cold!

joeInstant coffee
You tend to procrastinate because you are so laid back. You are happy to take life as it comes and are not keen on planning. Chill!

joeMocha with a shot of hazelnut syrup (anything sweet)
You are an overgrown kid, young at heart, with taste buds & sensibilities of a child. You love the sentimentality attached to hot sweet drinks and can’t wait for the seasonal  variations like gingerbread and crème brulee to appear on the café menu!

Don’t take this toooooooo seriously.  As Dr Durvasula adds, “we are no more defined by our coffee orders than we are by our astrological signs”.  Enjoy what you drink, try a variety – I know I do – just make it good quality coffee.  It makes all the difference!

*Source: Dr. Ramani Durvasula recently conducted an observational study of 1,000 coffee drinkers http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/09/11/what-does-your-coffee-reveal-about-you/.

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About Nikki
Nikki Radvanyi set up Nikki Radvanyi Business and Marketing Support in September 2014. Apart from being a real coffee lover, mocha is her favourite, Nikki supports businesses in the West Midlands by providing a bespoke P.A, V.A and marketing support service.  Nikki says, “I love what I do.  I am very lucky to work with some great businesses, from micro businesses and former CEOs to companies in the FTSE 250, most of whom realise they can’t do everything themselves and need to delegate to an experienced P.A and marketer, who will concentrate on the areas they no longer have time for or lack the expertise in”.

Nikki Radvanyi – web. nikkiradvanyi.co.uk ; twitter. @NikkiRadvanyi.

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Sep

01

Guest blogger Andy Hare’s appreciation of Parisian-inspired Madeleine

madeleine

We welcome guest blogger Andy Hare to Coffee Birmingham to offer up his appreciation of Madeleine.

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Question: Can artisan coffee house Madeleine conjour up images of a Parisian Cafe? 

photo 1
I have been meaning to visit Madeleine in The Cube, part of The Mailbox in Birmingham City Centre for a while.

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.

madeleine

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.

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About Andy:
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.
Twitter: @andydhare

 

 

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Jul

04

Guest blog: A.A. Abbott in appreciation of Ashton Levi Coffee (Longbridge)

ashton
How many of you have been to Ashton Levi, a new indie which has been open for a few months now over in Longbridge? Well, I am delighted to welcome A.A. Abbott, author of Brum thrillers After The Interview and Up in Smoke, who made the trip over and tells us about her experience! Enjoy! (Tim)
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I visited Ashton Levi on hearing about their support for local writers. They’re offering a night of live readings from authors on 9th July!
Ashton Levi Quote

The coffee itself was rich and smooth, and my latte arrived with a heart on top – a lovely personal touch. My friend enjoyed an iced latte that was long, cool and very welcome during an uncharacteristically warm day in Birmingham. They sell a tempting range of cakes, freshly prepared sandwiches and smoothies, too. Yet perhaps the most refreshing thing about the coffee at Ashton Levi is the genuine passion and knowledge owner Mel Brown and her team bring to it. Not only did we receive a warm, smiley welcome when we arrived, but Mel chatted to us about where she sourced her coffee, and her desire to provide a drink that was both delicious and ethical.

ashton

The venue itself is effortlessly upmarket and upbeat, with stunning artwork on the walls and books for customers to read. The creative vibe is reflected in the young and trendy clientele. It’s not hard to imagine Ashton Levi hosting a few live poetry readings or live music, but at the same time I think it would work well for an informal business meeting or an after-hours corporate party or networking event.

ashton

With so much style and potential, this upmarket venue for the new heart of Longbridge deserves to succeed. I’ve twice made a detour to go there and have enjoyed every minute.

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I have to share AA Abbott’s enthusiasm for Ashton Levi. The quality of service from the staff to the Steelite cups and saucers are all evidence for me.

What do you think? Please share your experiences over at @coffeebrum on twitter!!

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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

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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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!! 

 

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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!

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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.

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

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Jan

22

Judging for the Great Birmingham Bake Off (Six Eight Kafe)

six eight kafe

I am delighted to have been invited by Hannah and the team at Six Eight Kafe as part of their Great Birmingham Bake Off. Described as a “week long cakeathon”, the  Bake Off (#GBCBO) will raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The competition has garnered much interest from bakers and tasters and continues throughout this week, every day until Saturday (26th January). Each day will have a different theme from Tea Time Treats, to cookies to Inspire By Birmingham.

Ultimately the public will judge and donate £££s for the privilege!

Follow #GBCBO on twitter for all the latest info during the week.

@sixeightkafe

 

 

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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.

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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!

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