Sep

25

Guest blog: The Boston Tea Party – Cracking Coffee in Harborne’s old Clock Tower

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Once again, we’re delighted to welcome novelist A.A. Abbott to Coffee Birmingham. In her latest guest blog, she writes about a recent trip to the latest Boston Tea Party to open in Birmingham.

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Harborne’s old Clock Tower has suddenly morphed into foodie destination School Yard – there’s a cookery school on the way, Urban Coffee is there already, and now the Boston Tea Party has arrived.

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Much more than a coffee shop, the Boston Tea Party offers crisp croissants, brownies, craft beers and substantial meals as well as the usual hot beverages. Breakfasts, served all day and late into the night, included the West Country (true to the BTP’s roots – more on that later) and a vegetarian option that is everything you could wish for, without the bacon. There’s plenty of space: a large, canteen-like room, another area with padded booths, and an upstairs chamber that would be ideal for live performances. The BTP is open to suggestions, apparently.

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So, the million dollar question: what’s the coffee like? My latte was smooth, with a definite caffeine hit. One of these and a BTP almond croissant, and you’re ready to start the day.

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I’ve also tried the chai latte. Like most places, this is made by adding steamed milk to chai syrup. My Indian friend Shima, who boils tea, spices and milk in a pan, would doubtless pour scorn and derision on the BTP version – but I found it extremely palatable. Here’s a teatime tip, by the way: if your companion orders a cream tea, ask for one too, as it’s sheer torture watching a cream scone steadily disappear without so much as a crumb heading in your direction. They really are too good to share.

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The BTP is an independently-run chain of 15 in the Midlands and West Country. Perhaps it’s reached a pinnacle to which all indies aspire? It started life as a single coffee shop in Bristol, where it’s still going strong, having seen Starbucks come and go across the road. The original Bristol branch is delightfully shabby, appearing to have been furnished from a house clearance store. Harborne has a much smarter vibe. Everything is shiny and new, although often made to look old in a kind of fusion of poshed-up American diner with industrial chic. It’s clearly working, because the BTP is buzzing. It appeals to everyone: students meeting for a chat, business folk networking over a latte (guilty as charged) and couples doing lunch.

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Amazingly, the other coffee shops in Harborne always look busy as well. What else do people do in B17? Perhaps they drink all that coffee because they’re sobering up from all those pubs…

BTP

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AA Abbott is a fiction writer and coffee drinker, who can be found on Twitter as @AAAbbottStories and online at http://aaabbott.co.uk

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Apr

11

Guest blog: #UKCoffeeweek at Urban Coffee Company

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On this week’s guest blog, Coffee Brum is delighted to welcome Urban Coffee Company‘s Peter Gough to the blog as he talks about what they have been up to as part of #UKCoffeeweek this week.

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We are the lucky ones…. every day at Urban Coffee Company is a celebration of that wonderful, pick-me-up nectar we like to call coffee! However, since UK Coffee week began it has been so fab that once a year we are given the chance to take part in something really exciting and join a nationwide celebration.

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Not only does UK Coffee Week give roasters, coffee shops and baristas a chance to really shout about what they do, it also gives the UK Coffee industry a chance to give something back to the communities which grow the coffee that we so depend on to get through the day!

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Now, we are half way though the week and across all three emporiums, tip jars have been replaced with donation boxes. We are holding a  ‘guess the weight of the coffee’ competition all week with the prize being a fabulous coffee cupping and tasting set.  We’ve already got the first lot of filled in ‘silent quiz sheets’ in – pick up a question sheet from any of our emporiums – for just a quid – and you will be in with a chance to win a months’ worth of free coffee from us!

And of course, all monies raised go straight to Project Waterfall.

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And, if that’s not enough, we’re having a Fancy Dress Friday on the 11th April – so get ready for our Urbanistas to be shaking their buckets at you!

Even our Meet-Ups and Events will be helping us to do our part with UK Coffee Week – after all, they are all part of our very own coffee-loving community, such as a UK Coffee Week themed Jelly on the 11th at #JQ and Kaffee und Kuchen at #CS on the 13th.

We are really enjoying this UK Coffee Week, so please make sure you give generously whenever you’re in a participating vendor – Project Waterfall is something really worth getting involved in!

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Thanks very much to Peter for his guest blog this week. In addition to Urban Coffee Company, Java Lounge in Moseley are another indie in town who are actively supporting #ukcoffeeweek, so be sure to get involved and donate if you can. `

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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).

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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).
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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.

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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

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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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

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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Sep

19

Live Music from Blueprint on Coffee Birmingham Day @ Urban JQ from 2pm

As part of all the fun stuff going on as part of Coffee Birmingham Day,  we are delighted to announce that Blueprint will be providing live music for Coffee Birmingham Day at Urban Coffee’s JQ Emporium from 2pm.

Blueprint are a four piece instrumental group who also work collaboratively with singers and other instrumentalists.

With stylistic diversity, their music generally falls somewhere between smooth jazz, funk edged jazz and R & B.

The group’s compositions derive from reminiscent or familar sounds from their likes and past experiences.

Be sure to check back for exact times and further info.

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Sep

07

Build up to 29th: Urban Coffee Company

In the build up to Saturday 29th September, we will introducing the venues where each of the events and activities will be taking place.

Urban Coffee Company will turn their Church St and Jewellery Quarter emporiums into hives of fun, interaction and social activity to showcase what goes on in the Urban Coffee community.

There will be live music in their Jewellery Quarter Emporium, live art workshops at their Church Street Emporium as well as range of other activities which reflects what happens in the Urban community.

The interaction between independent coffee and culture will be very much alive on the day!

Added to this, Urban will be serving an array of coffee and cakes as well as its brunch menu.

More info to come.
@urbancoffeeco // www.urbancoffee.co.uk

 

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Aug
29

Vodcast: Coffee Birmingham meets Urban Coffee Company

In the build up to September 29th, we will be doing a series of videos to celebrate Birmingham’s independent scene. First up, the guys at Urban Coffee Company invited me over to film. Armed with the power cameras on my tab and my phone, I made the best use of the footage I had to put this together.

Please excuse my meagre creative skills. I am not a filmmaker. In fact, I used Windows Live Movie Maker to do this.

What I want to do though these films is to capture an appreciation for indies across the city. Thanks to Peter for using his drama school training to good effect (!) and to the team of Urbanistas who were happy to commit their talents to film.

To those whose faces appear in the videos, please let me know so we can credit you as an #indielove person. It would be good to know who your name beyond being Urban customers.

More to come next week.

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