Best cafés and coffee shops in Birmingham

Frosty mornings, numb fingertips and a murderous-caffeine deficiency all call for a steaming haven in a cardboard coffee cup. Now, I’m a student so I relate to not getting enough sleep, but I don’t see why my caffeine fix should have to be quantity over quality when I could just get both. So for all of you with bags darker than your pupils, this is for you – the kids in the library at 3am, I’m looking at you.

6/8 Café has a very special place in my heart because I pass one by Birmingham Cathedral on my way to university, and then one again actually inside my school; it’s almost like I’ve been targeted by the coffee gods – whatever did I do to deserve this wretched punishment?!

Now, with that said, I get the latte. I know what you’re thinking, a latte for a caffeine rush – are you insane? I agree, one shot of espresso is not enough for those nights of two hours sleep. But the quality of the bean matters here, and I’m trusting it to motivate me out of bed this coming winter. Plus, for those of you who don’t like coffee (why are you reading this?), the hot chocolate is flawless. It’s sweet and silky and, well, chocolatey.

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200 degrees coffee on Colmore Row makes promises from the get go on the A-board outside. Quirky puns and tips of the day that cover the whole spectrum; like what to do when faced by a killer clown – go for the juggler, if you were wondering – all the way to compliments that make you feel good.

So strutting into the café, knowing you look as hot as a fresh pot of coffee (it’s written outside in chalk, so it must be true) the vintage-esque menu’s right there to greet you. A long black is my typical order and it is an incredible, deep roast. Granted, I do dump about twenty sugars in there too but I like my coffee sweet! It’s definitely fueling my caffeine addiction though, and it keeps me awake in long lectures in warm, dark theatres; pretty impressive, if you ask me.

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The Plough in Harborne combines that pub house-feel with a relaxed coffee-by-the-fire atmosphere. This is hardly the first time they’ve been praised for their coffee though, and it’s easy to see why; not only does it follow the smooth, mellow taste that I connote with an ideal world but there’s smiles all round with the service.

Now, of course coffee’s important for this list, but it’s essential to mention that they offer brunch too – total double threat. This is the place that’ll remind you of lazy coffee-date Sundays and keep you warm against the harsh winds this winter. Voted one of the best coffee shops in the UK by the Independent.

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Now, for Tilt. Just off the high street, in city centre, it’s quite the find. A real nook-and-cranny spot, where if you know then you know. Not only do they serve some of the finest roast coffee beans included in this list, but it’s probably one of the coolest places too. Don’t be put off by the creepy alley you have to walk down to get to it, it’s worth it.

Very different from anywhere else I’ve found, it’s the place to take your friends from outside of Birmingham, so they think you’re cool. Hell, stay there all day if you want; they sell craft beers too – it’s gotta be 5 o’clock somewhere, right?

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Boston Tea Party is a classic for brunch, but let’s talk about their white hot chocolate for a minute. I know it doesn’t have the caffeine that their dark roasted Americano does, but who needs it when you’re basically drinking a melted milky bar?

It’s always busy with the steady hum of excited café-goers which peps you up for the day anyway, but if not, the drinks definitely will and the hot chocolate will give you that mile high sugar buzz that caffeine can’t quite hit. Hot chocolate over coffee? Blasphemy, I know, but it’s just that good.

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Faculty Coffee is a café based on quality over the fancy, their coffee and tea will leave you buzzed and content. Plus they sell the equipment they use in-store too. Situated inside the Victorian Piccadilly Arcade, Faculty Coffee prides itself on quality over quantity, it’s crammed into a tiny space but you will nearly always find a seat, even if it’s at the counter.

Faculty serve brewed drinks to have in or takeaway, as well as a range of retail coffee beans and equipment for sale. Staff at Faculty pay great attention to detail, the tea, coffee and cake is out of this world and the team have already built up a loyal following.

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The Old Crown really is a 16th century wonder, the ale will tempt you. But I can promise you, you won’t be missing out if you get the coffee. The Old Crown is one of Birmingham’s oldest buildings. Originally built in the 14th century almost all of the present building dates from the early 16th century, the earliest evidence of the building being operated as an Inn dates to the early part of the 17th century.

The building survived the English Civil war, during which time a skirmish was fought around the streets of Digbeth. The cafe serves the best sausage rolls around with vegetarian options too. Coffee and tea is also a serious affair here with a fab selection to choose from and a quaint relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy morning, noon and night!

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Quarter Horse Coffee source green beans through international suppliers.  They select beans by quality and seasonality, then test-roast them in small batches.

The team then evaluates them by flavour and roast the favourites of these for use in their shops and for wholesale customers.  One of the only coffee roasters in the country to roast in-house and within full view of their cafe. 88-90 Bristol street.

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If these didn’t quench your thirst, maybe check out some of these;

Saint Kitchen –  Overlooking leafy St Pauls Square, Saint Kitchen serves breakfast, brunch, tasty treats & one of the the best flat whites in Birmingham.

Cafephilia, Opus – Situated in the brilliant Ikon Gallery, Brindley Place. One of the country’s top 18 venues for al fresco dining, the coffe and tea is also superb!

Cherry Reds – John Bright Street and Kings Heath. A fantastic alternative to the swanky well polished urban style cafes in Brum, Cherry Red’s is organic and vintage, great food, warm atmosphere and serves a great pint too!

Mount Fuji – Possibly the only independent restaurant in the Bullring? Also offers their own kind of café. Their green tea café continues the growth of their Japanese brand, with their own tea leaves grown at the foothills of Mount Fuji (the name makes sense now, eh?). A unique experience, completely contrasting the other cafes on this list; Birmingham has something to offer for everyone. Plus, if you get a bit peckish, get yourself a bento box of sushi to go alongside that green tea you’re drinking. Treat yourself.

Yorks Bakery Cafe – Situated on Stephenson St. This is a wonderful little cafe to sit and watch the world go by (and great for all you Tram geeks as they pull up outside). One of the first to kick-start the city’s cafe culture renaissance, also home to live music.

Urban Café – Church Street and The Big Peg Jewellery Quarter. I mean, it says it in the name; an industrial-looking café, you’ll be surprised by warmth you’ll feel inside.

Ort Art Gallery and Community Cafe – Child friendly, Vegan friendly art space and cafe in Balsall Heath.

Java Lounge – A Moseley fave, serving great macchiato and vanilla lattes!

Centenary Lounge – Art Deco surroundings of the Moor Street cafe, something more traditional.

Jake’s Coffee Box – Actually served from within an old red telephone box, how cool is that?! Located between the council house and Colmore Row.

Coffee Time Coffee Bar and Creperia –  Rated number one on Trip Advisor with 158 Reviews for Dessert in Birmingham, this has to be serving some of the best cappuccinos in Brum. Priory Square off Corporation Street.

Another Pop Up – Situated within the Custard Factory, most importantly, about this café, is the food they serve and let me tell you; they serve a lot of it. Cooked fresh everyday by their dedicated chefs, they endeavour to produce fresh, natural foods with no preservatives that still tastes good. What more do you want from your quick dash to the café? Plus, their mocha is outstanding. Chocolate and coffee does it for me, I was sold there and then, the food was just a bonus. It’s really quite a special place.

Article by Megan Matthews for Grapevine Birmingham

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