As a coffee-loving freelancer who frequents the city’s independent cafes and coffee shops on a daily basis, their vibrancy owes as much to the sheer amount of business that goes on in them as it does to the fuel that coffee provides.
It would be an eye-opening piece of research to measure the economic impact that the independents have directly made to the local economy. By this, I am talking beyond the great food and drink offerings, and more how new business is made in the coffee shops.
Every day, coffee shops are where deals are struck and partnerships and collaborations forged. There are regular co-working events, business meet ups and networking events, and just occasionally, one can sit back at the end of a working day and indulge.
The opportunity to meet, to work and to do business is an essential part of what makes Birmingham’s coffee culture. Here’s a half dozen places across the city centre that reflect this:
Six Eight Kafe, Temple Row
About: The wonderful 6/8 has cemented itself as one of the go-to independent coffee shops in the UK with its reputation for high quality coffee, magnificent cakes and a very friendly, modern vibe.
Why it’s a place to do business: Opposite House of Fraser and a few minutes walk from Snow Hill Station, it has become an ideal central location for meetings and a hideaway to work. Its refurbished large downstairs space has massively increased its number of customers as well provide a space that you can hire for events and functions.
Urban Coffee Company, Church Street and Warstone Lane
About: Urban Coffee Company is approaching five years old and was one of the first indies to bring the quality indie coffee shop vibe to the city. By opening its first emporium in the heart of the Colmore Business District, it is a confident statement as to the draw that it would have in the business community.
Why it’s a place to do business: Urban is a two-minute walk from Snow Hill, in the heart of business and has a strong business customer focus, catering for events, gatherings and meetups including Birmingham Entrepreneurs. Its sister Jewellery Quarter emporium is home to the monthly Jelly co-working event for freelancers and small businesses.
Faculty Coffee, Piccadilly Arcade
About: Set up by the former owners of Saint Caffe (now Saint Kitchen), Geoff and Lucy’s Faculty Coffee is their new venture which has been open for over a month now. The shop’s simple aesthetics from the signage to the decor make a clear statement about what really matters here - showcasing quality of product from the Square Mile coffee to the homemade cakes made by Lucy.
Why’s it a place to do business: It might not seem an obvious meeting place, yet being in the Piccadilly Arcade and next door to New Street Station, it makes a fantastic quick meeting location and I have also happily sat and worked there for a number of hours at a time.
Brewsmiths, Livery Street
About: With its colourful wallpaper, friendly staff and legendary breakfast offerings, Brewsmiths is the most homely coffee and tea destination. New owner Andrew took over from Dave at the turn of the year and has kept the same friendly and down-to-earth vibe that has made it such a draw for almost three years now.
Why it’s a place to do business: Brewsmiths is well located at the gateway to the Jewellery Quarter, next door to Snow Hill’s back entrance, a minute’s walk from Colmore Business District and has excellent parking. Brewsmiths also hosts a number of events, in and out of hours, including the monthly Likemind (except Bank Holidays).
Saint Kitchen, St Paul’s Square
About: Saint Kitchen opened in the New Year frequenting the same spot left by Saint Caffe. Having undergone a refurb, the bright and welcoming vibe for this St Paul’s Square establishment is what makes it distinctive. It is home to a wide food offering as well as excellent coffee, including Liam’s Flat White, quite possibly my favourite coffee in town!
Why it’s a place to do business: This St Paul’s Square establishment is an excellent spot for a meeting or as a place to work and, as it’s only a few minutes walk from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, it’s a great getaway location. The Square also has plenty of places to park.
The Old Crown Coffee Club, Digbeth
About: The Old Crown Inn needs little introduction, as it is the oldest pub in Birmingham. It began operating its Coffee Club last year and is one of Digbeth’s gems. Operating alongside the pub, its wooden beams and panels run completely counter to the minimalist stripped down feel that other independents have.
Why it’s a place to do business: The Old Crown is a great meeting spot, especially if you work in and around Digbeth or the Custard Factory. It has plenty of space, excellent wifi and power points and offers a full selection of breakfasts, sandwiches and cakes, all made in house. When searching for a place to meet in Digbeth, give this place a whirl.
Find out more about Tim Wilson and Coffee Birmingham here