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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Nov

29

Support the Yelp Shops Local Pledge this Christmas

Hi all. It has been a while since I last posted on here but I urge you all to support this initiative to back all things local this Christmas and to do your bit for #indielove.

From the YSL page:
“Yelp’s challenging communities across the land to keep their hard-earned dough close to home by taking the Yelp Shops Local Pledge! What does this mean? Pledging proudly to make a hearty effort to support the great local business community whenever possible, and encouraging others to do the same. Even buying one gift from a local small business makes a big difference in our community.

So click “I’m In!” in the Yelp Shops Local event listing in your city if you plan on making the effort to shop local this holiday season. It’s all about solidarity!”

What’s great is that Yelp Birmingham are completely pushing it and a number of local businesses are already on board. It would be great for both customers and businesses alike to support this campaign keep things local this Christmas.

Visit the campaign on facebook here.
Hashtag: #yslbrum
Follow @yelpbrum for more info.

Keep flying the flag for #indielove this Christmas!

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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
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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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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.

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Sep

29

Thanks to BBC WM for the coverage

A quick thanks to Molly and all the team at BBC Radio WM for their coverage of Coffee Birmingham day on the breakfast show this morning.

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Sep

26

Build up to 29th: Yorks Bakery Cafe

We are delighted to have Yorks Bakery Cafe on board as a supporting independent coffee shop (and indeed artisan bakery) for Coffee Birmingham Day on the 29th September.

These guys and gals are the new kids on the block, yet their experience and expertise combined with much fresh thinking is on show and clear to anyone who goes into their premises on the corner of Colmore Row and Newhall Street.

Since opening in August 2012, Yorks have been garnering praise and positivity from all who visit, whether it is the fantastic Caravan coffee, expert baristas or their superb cakes, sandwiches, pastries and breads, prepared on site in their very own bakery and freshly displayed on their wooden trestle tables.

What are they doing on Coffee Birmingham day? In addition to the usual quality produce and coffee, on the 29th, there will be offers in store and they will be putting on some demonstrations to showcase their talents…

…. including, a few things that you didn’t know about TEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, on Coffee Birmingham day, be sure to visit Yorks Bakery Cafe!!!

With thanks to Simon Ford and the team for their support.

Where: Yorks Bakery Cafe, 1 Newhall Street, Birmingham

Website: http://yorksbakerycafe.co.uk/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/YorksBakeryCafe
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/yorksbakerycafe

Photo credits: http://roobarbgifts.blogspot.co.uk + @glamourcounty

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Sep

23

The Coffee Club Collective: FREE Live Art Workshops at Urban Coffee, Coffee Brum day, 11am-3pm

Event: Free Live Art Workshops from The Coffee Club Collective
Where: Urban Coffee Company, Church St
When: Coffee Birmingham Day, Saturday September 29th, 11am-3pm.

The Coffee Club Collective, currently exhibiting their first exhibition at Urban Coffee Company, will be offering live art workshops upstairs at Urban’s Church Street Emporium on Coffee Birmingham day from 11am to 3pm.

Amongst the activities on offer, there will be a number of activities including casting figures which can be painted mask and hat making and general creative fun!

We are delighted once again to be showcasing the work of the Coffee Club Collective and we urge you to bring your young-uns and yourselves upstairs to experience the fun on the 29th.

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Sep

22

Build up to 29th: Six Eight Kafe

six eight kafe

The build up to the 29th continues … so here’s a little preview of what Six Eight Kafe are going to be doing on the 29th….

It is absolutely fantastic to have Six Eight Kafe on board as one of the supporters of Coffee Birmingham and whose team of talented baristas will be present to showcase their talents on Coffee Birmingham Day (Saturday 29th September).

Six Eight Kafe have a strong reputation as being one of the best indies in the UK and, for those (and many more) reasons, we urge you to share the #indielove and get over to 6/8 on the 29th to understand why!

On the day, Six Eight Kafe will be offering a coffee and cake deal whilst providing you with their brilliant Hasbean roasted coffee and demonstrating their many skills.

With thanks to Dav, Hannah and the whole team for their support and contributions.

… And to leave you in no doubt as to why you should visit 6/8, here’s video footage of Six Eight’s talents, videos courtesy of barista (indeed, former Six Eight-er) and all round creative force, Craig Bush. Enjoy!

See how Six Eight Kafe make their Flat Whites:

The original Six Eight Kafe promo video:

Making a Chemex Coffee at Six Eight Kafe:

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Sep

20

Our events team plotting and planning…

Had a fantastic meeting with the events team last night. Lots of great ideas exchanged and momentum has been brought up a few notches in the build up to the 29th. Exciting. Thanks one all.

Photo credits – Peter from Urban Coffee and Rickie Josen (aka Mrs Coffee Birmingham).

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