Davinda of Six Eight Kafe shared with me his reason for opening his coffee bar in Birmingham. He wanted “to show that you could get good coffee outside the M25.” I was sipping his espresso and there was no doubt he had proved his point but what about other independent coffee bars, was Six Eight a one off? Is good coffee limited to antipodean owned independents in London? On my return to Birmingham I decided to find out.
Urban Coffee Company – 30 Church Street
They have two bars; one in the business district and the other in the Jewellery Quarter. I visited the one on Church Street in the business district less than five minutes from the town centre. It always seems very busy which says a lot about how popular it is. The interior decor is a mix of chrome, wood and industrial chic. They take their coffee very seriously and have lot of information on handwritten chalk boards about the coffee being used, when it was roasted and ground. There is a wide choice of food, much of it organic. I have had a flat white and espresso here and would go for the flat white every time. A great place to relax with a book or Kindle during your lunch break.
Cafe Blend – 90 Navigation Street
Cafe Blend has an interior of modern, clean cut lines which reflects the New Birmingham in which it is based. Pleasant pale green walls in two tones with dictionary definitions of coffee types and teas. There is so much to choose from: a whole range of espresso based coffees, mochas of every type you could imagine and then some, a range of hot chocolates. Added to all that are a variety of frappacinos and their range of coffee cocktails – coffee with liqueurs. They also boast 22 varieties of tea
I ordered a flat white on my first visit. It was full bodied with a hint of nuttiness. On my second visit ordered something more adventurous called a Turtle Mocha which is white chocolate and caramel topped with whipped cream and biscuit and of course there is coffee in there somewhere. I also tried an Espresso Cubano where demerara sugar is added to the coffee before the steam is passed through it. It’s very sweet. Very definitely the place to go for something a little different or if you are feeling adventurous. However, they do serve amazingly good traditional coffee too.
Brewsmiths – Queensway Arches
Coffee underneath the arches; Queensway Arches to be exact. Brewsmiths is a very social cafe with wooden refectory tables where you can sip with the other clients of this coffee bar. There are a few smaller tables for those wanting a little more intimacy or privacy.
Each cup is filled with beans ready for grinding when you order so you know your coffee is fresh. Their mocha is sublime and, according to the notice when I was there, has 54% cocoa. Top notch espresso served too.
Not the easiest of places to find if your not a Brummie but you will be rewarded if you seek it out.
Saint Caffe – 61a St Paul’s Square
Great location overlooking St Peter’s Square. Saint Caffe has a spacious interior with classic dark wood decor dark and modern with good lighting. There is a great range of coffees and some delicious looking food. They are well known for their selection of homemade soups as well. The flat white I had was best I found in Birmingham it was had rich full bodied taste and velvet smooth feel in the mouth. This coffee bar is well worth the stroll through the Jewellery Quarter for the coffee, the ambience and purely to relax
Six Eight Kafe – 6/8 Temple Row
6/8 as it is often referred to locally is between the shopping district and business district of the city. It was a brave move opening an independent where all the big chains were already flooding the area with coffee but it’s more than holding it’s own. Step inside and taste their coffee and you see realise why. The flat white is an excellent drink with well rounded taste but it is the espresso that impressed me most. Using beans from the Hasbean roastery it is one of the best I have tasted anywhere. The chocolate Guinness cake they serve is so good it must be illegal. Soft moist and richly chocolatey it is just one of the reasons I stop by Six Eight Kafe anytime I am in Birmingham.
Great coffee outside the M25? Most definitely if my experience of the independents in Birmingham is anything to go by. Cafe Blend have opened another shop in Manchester so I know where to get good coffee there. I have had good coffee in other places too but more of that in another post.
Do you know of anywhere to get good coffee outside the M25? Do share with us in the comments below.