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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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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Jun

10

The sounds of coffee shops increase your creativity!

The sounds of coffee shops increase your creativity!

Here’s a random one I found … are you losing focus and productivity? Miss the coffee shop to recharge your creative spark!

Now, you could be in the office or at home and you need the sounds of the coffee shop to inspire and create! The coffee shop is closed. Darn, where do you go?

The interweb has a solution, ready made in the form of Coffitivity!

Coffee shops make you more creative! Don’t miss out when the coffee shop is no longer at hand!

Have this site loop the white noise of people chatting whilst the baristas prep in the background.

How it works is that the volume is at 40% – and then you’re recommended to set your own background music at 60% volume.

The only, rather vital thing, missing is the coffee …. oooops …. but then if you’re suitably inclined, make it at home. Ehem!

And just because you can hear a coffee shop at home, remember this is just an appetiser to the real thing! 🙂

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Aug

09

Berlin Coffee Shop – Bonanza Coffee Heroes

I have just returned from Berlin, home to numerous brilliant indie coffee shops. Just thought I’d draw your attention to one for now…Bonanza Coffee Heroes. Less a shop, more a shop space with a roastery in it, a old-school 1920s/1930s roasting machine at the entrance and baristas serving up coffees from the beans delivered out of the roaster.

No seating inside just a few benches outside – thankfully it was dry.

A dedicated coffee shop with a pop-up mentality and the coffee was excellent. It exudes a typically independent and unique Berlin charm. Bizarre but definitely one for coffee heads.

Oderberger Strasse 35,
Berlin, Germany
Coffee Beans: Bonanza
Equipment: Synesso, Mazzer Robur-E

 

 

 

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