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 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.
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 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.

 

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

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! 🙂

0 Comments

Aug

24

Our new flyers have arrived … with thanks to Set and Match

Our new flyers are now available and being distributed in independent locations across the city. Look out for them and be sure to spread the #indielove especially in the lead up to Coffee Birmingham 2012.

If you are an independent shop and would like some delivered then please drop me an email – tim@coffeebirmingham.co.uk.

image

Tim with a pair of scissors = dangerous


 
Quick word of thanks to Phil and the excellent team at Set and Match who supported us by sponsoring the production of these flyers and to Enterprise Nation for their continued belief in our goal to promote and support small independent businesses across the city.

image

The new flyers

About Set and Match
image

Set and Match are an independent company focussing on all aspects of graphic design, pre-press origination and print. They offer an “all under one roof” service staffed by talented professionals who cherish clients’ printing projects from concept to delivery. Their “yes we can” approach led to our association with them and the delivery of our new flyers.

More info: www.setandmatch.net.

0 Comments
UA-44896100-1