Guest Blog: Confidence, Coaching and a Cup of Coffee (Dr Gary Wood)


I am delighted to welcome Dr. Gary Wood to Coffee Birmingham to provide a unique perspective on what it is to go to a coffee shop. For Gary, the experience, environment, and confidence are things to be gained.


On my first island hopping trip my fellow traveller and I had just finished breakfast at a café by the water’s edge on the island of Naxos. My friend started panicking about paying the bill otherwise we would miss the bus to the beach. At that moment, the waiter emerged from the café and said ‘What’s the matter? I am bringing you more coffee’. He then added slightly sardonically ‘You have no where to go!’ He was right. We were all ready there. Anywhere was the holiday.


The following year I travelled alone for the first time, again island hopping in Greece. On the island of Mykonos I got into conversation in a café with a Native American guy named Robert. We shared interests in Greek islands, obviously, coffee, obviously and psychology. One of his friends from back home happened to walk past. We invited her to join us for coffee which she proceeded to gulp down in 10 minutes flat and then got up to leave. With a glint in his eye, Robert said ‘You’ve just arrived here, haven’t you?’ ‘How did you know?’ she asked. ‘Just a guess’, he smiled.


There’s a scene in the TV series Sex and the City where the protagonist Carrie Bradshaw talks about wanting to get to the state where she didn’t have to take a book to a coffee shop to justify being alone. Having a coffee alone in Mykonos harbour, I put away my book and just focused on being there. I savoured the cappuccino as I looked out over the azure sea peppered with brightly coloured fishing boats. I greeted other customers, occasionally struck up a conversation and after a respectable amount of time I’d order something else. I got to the point where there were no intruding thoughts. I wasn’t thinking about the past or worrying about the future. After all, I had no where to go but be in that moment.


Greek people take their time in cafés. A coffee lasts about 90 minutes. It’s not something that punctuates the day. It’s a main event. Of course it’s not really the length of time that matters. It’s the quality of the experience. Around the time I was researching and writing my book, Unlock Your Confidence, a potential client told me ‘I need a relaxing environment for life coaching, can we work over a coffee?’ I shouldn’t have been sceptical. We learn more effectively when relaxed. It also tied in with my Greek experiences. I realised that the basis of authentic, inner confidence is the ability to relax, be in the present moment and feel totally comfortable in our own skins. So, forget about throwing yourself out of aeroplanes or walking on hot coals or similar stunts. That’s all for show. Can you just chill out savouring a coffee and just be in the present moment without having to justify your very existence? It really is worth taking the time just to practice. Try it and let me know how you get on.

Dr Gary Wood is a psychologist, life coach, coffee lover, ardent Graecophile and author of Unlock Your Confidence. His coaching and training practice is based in Birmingham and Edinburgh. He blogs at www.psycentral.co.uk.


So, what do you think about Gary’s perspectives? Send us your thoughts on twitter @coffeebrum




Guest Feature: Jessica Rose looks at what we can learn from Icelandic coffee culture.


I am delighted to welcome Jessica Rose to guest write about Icelandic coffee culture. As someone who has been to Iceland and experienced their fantastic coffee culture first hand, it is great to have Jess offering some fantastic insights and comparisons between their coffee culture and what us Brummies experience!



Coming from Birmingham, the most striking thing about Reykjavik’s coffee culture is what’s missing. The big corporate coffee brands aren’t to be found here. The nearest thing you can find to a Starbucks or Costa is Te & Kaffi, an Icelandic chain with just 8 locations across the county that opened in the 80s and helped launch Iceland’s love affair with great coffee.

What both Birmingham and Reykjavik do share are a growing number of independent coffee houses with incredibly loyal fanbases.

While Brummies hotly debate the merits of Urban Coffee over 6/8 etc., our Icelandic counterparts declare their loyalty to Tui Dropar or Kaffitar (ed: a personal favourite). With only 120,000 people in the city, Reykjavik still sports over a dozen independent coffee shops, each drawing its own loyalists. Icelandic coffee houses fill an important social niche, staying open as late as 1 am throughout the week and serving beer, sweets and light meals alongside coffees and mocha. Even outside of the dedicated coffee shops, locally roasted coffee can be purchased in almost any cafe, restaurant or gas station.

In a food culture where vegetarian options are few and far between, Reykjavik’s coffee shops often provide casual vegetarian options, such as Tiu Dropar’s cheese and vegetable sandwiches.


Cheese and vegetable sandwich from Tiu Dropar

Cafe Loki, just before the Hallgrímskirkja Church supplies tourists and the faithful with coffee as well as its famous rye bread ice cream and Iceland’s infamous fermented shark.


Rye bread ice cream, mocha and sweets from Cafe Loki

Icelanders are the third largest consumers of coffee by capita and this level of demand has resulted in a network of high quality coffee houses. These coffee shops have begun working together to build an overarching cafe culture through shared supply chains, education and events. Reykjavik recently hosted the 2013 Nordic Barista Cup and hold regular workshops and events to help develop the Icelandic coffee scene.

About Jess
Jessica is an American transplant, living in Birmingham. She blogs about tech and programming at www.closetoclever.com and has collected a list of Icelandic vegetarian dining options at : http://closetoclever.com/vegetarian-options-iceland/


So what do you think we can learn or even benefit from other country’s coffee cultures? Join the conversation at @coffeebrum.





indieLove co-hosts a special Jelly … Coffee Club!

Our umbrella business, indieLove are delighted to co-host this Jelly with a twist hosted in assocation with our friends official Birmingham #Jelly and Enterprise Nation Club‘s Coffee Club.

Who: freelancers, home workers, solopreneurs, small business owners, field workers, people escaping the office for the day – in fact, everyone is welcome to drop in co-work, collaborate and chat. Other than a laptop you can bring your notebook, craft or just yourself, it’s a great time to clear your diary and think of new ideas. Other than a laptop you can bring your note-book, craft or just yourself, it’s a great time to clear your diary and think of new ideas.

Friday June 14th from 9am until 2pm at Urban Coffee Company, Jewellery Quarter.

Great, where do we sign up?
Although there is no formal RSVP, we encourage you to sign up at on meetup and or #wewillgather to let your friends know that you’re coming.

About Enterprise Nation Club –
A new modern membership scheme for small businesses. For just £20 per year, the scheme offersmany benefits including 25% off all of our books and events and over £500-worth of exclusive business benefits.

About Jelly Birmingham
Set up and run by Rickie Josen for over 2 years now, Jelly Birmingham is the established co-working event in Birmingham’s small business calendar.

About IndieLove
Set up in 2013, IndieLove offers affordable products and services to fantastic independent businesses everywhere and does so with a spirit of fun, adventure and opportunity. Follow on twitter and a like on facebook.

For more information on how Jelly started in New York have a look at this or read my article about Jelly in Enterprise Nation here.




Miss Apple’s Sweets

Sometimes you get to experience things which are so fabulous that you simply need to blog about them.

This brings me very neatly to Miss Apple’s Sweets, a Birmingham based artisan bakery specialising in handmade delicious Brigadeiro Gourmet and Custom Designed Cakes.

For those that don’t know, Brigadeiro is a typical bite-size Brazilian chocolate sweet. It’s similar to a truffle, but it is not a truffle. It is in essence a Brazilian truffle, but instead of cream, condensed milk is used.

According to Karen, owner of Miss Apple’s Sweets, brigaderios are very popular in birthdays, weddings, corporate events and any other occasions, as well as gifts.

So, it felt like my birthday came early, when Karen came along with a few beautifully giftwrapped boxes for me and my girlfriend to try.

These are not like typical truffles but bite-sized experiences to savour! The flavours were almond, pistachio, White chocolate, capuccino and traditional. I have to say I loved them all with a particular nod to the nutty almond and pistachio ones (one can never be too nutty!).

…And in addition to her sweets, Karen makes custom designed cakes which I’d love try soon.

Thanks ever so much to Karen for her kindness and be sure to check out her sweets and cakes. They are fabulous.

Contact details for Miss Apple’s Sweets
twitter: @_missapple
website: www.missapplesweets.com (coming soon)




How much is that doggy … in a coffee cup?!

Taken from last weekend’s Sunday Times, say hello to the world’s smallest dog conveniently fitting into this Coffee cup like a gorgeous espresso. Okay, perhaps taking the coffee analogies too far.




Lovely words on a coffee cup…

When in Vancouver in May, we visited a great indie called Milano, very much at the heart of West Coast indie culture. We drank one of their lovely stove top coffees and their takeout cup contained some lovely words.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a positive mantra on your coffee cup every morning!




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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