A short walk north of Birmingham’s New Street Station (its website says seven minutes, I reckon I can do it in five, even if it’s all uphill) and even closer to Snow Hill Station, Yorks Bakery Cafe has just about everything you could want: fantastic coffee from espresso machine or brew bar, including cold brew, a choice of 16 teas, a brunch menu served until four o’clock, loads of fabulous cakes…
Pause for breath…
… a wide range of seating, in three different areas, free wifi, friendly, helpful staff (who even arranged for the sun to come out for my visit).. The list goes on. If you’re not convinced by now, I’m not sure you ever will be, but just in case…
The coffee is from London roasters, Caravan, which is consistently turning out coffee I like, and Yorks is up there with the best of them when it comes to making great coffee. There’s a comprehensive range of espresso-based drinks, but the real sign of excellence is the brew bar which offers V60 pour-over or Aeropress for one and Chemex or Cafetiere to share. There’s a choice of three beans at the brew bar and a seasonal single-origin espresso bean.
February 2016: Newhall Street has now closed, the building undergoing a major refurbishment. As a result, the mantle of Yorks Bakery Cafe has passed to the new cafe/roastery on Stephenson Street, which is even closer to New Street Station.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Yorks Bakery Cafe is somewhere I’d heard a lot about and was also recommended by a friend from Wolverhampton as the one place I had to go to when in Birmingham. These recommendations can be a double-edged sword: what to say if you really hate a place? Fortunately, I needn’t have worried: Yorks is lovely.
From the moment I stepped through the door, I was sold. It’s a big place: high ceilings, exposed air-conditioning conduits, wooden floors and plain, painted walls. The main part is neatly split in two by the counter, creating two seating areas, one out front by the counter, flooded with light from the windows; the other, behind the counter, a little darker, slightly less hectic. The lack of windows is compensated for by multiple light bulbs hanging down from the high ceiling, giving it a sense of space.
A corridor on the left-hand side connects the two areas and extends back to provide access to the toilets. Opposite these, right at the back, is a third, much smaller seating area, with a couple of tables. A bar, compete with bar stools, also runs along part of the corridor. The seating is wonderful, an equal mix of low tables with armchairs and sofas, and normal tables with surprisingly comfortable plastic bucket chairs for those who are eating.
One word of caution: Yorks is loud, not in a bad way, but it’s an echoing space and, while I was there, full of chatty people competing with the background music. If you sit out front, you have the additional noise from behind the busy counter. For me it was just the right side of oppressive, but if you have problems with background noise, you might find Yorks a little overwhelming on a busy day. That said, while I was there, the small seating area at the back was empty and very quiet.
Turning to the coffee, there were so many options that I thought I better experiment. The espresso range looked tempting, with the piccolo and flat white probably edging out the other options. However, I decided to save that for another visit, turning instead to the brew bar and the Tanzanian Ruvuma AAA. I approached this with a little trepidation since it was described as “like a delicate black tea with a sweet acidity”. I decided it was best tackled as an Aeropress and was rewarded with a surprisingly pleasant, very smooth, not too complex coffee, which was sweet, but not unpleasantly so. I’d have preferred a little more body and perhaps slightly more bite, but that’s being picky.
It being lunchtime, I skipped cake (with a plan to make up for it later in the day) and perused the brunch menu which was being served until four o’clock. I wish everyone else would take a leaf out of Yorks’ book: brunch should be served until at least two o’clock.
I chose poached eggs on toast (it was either that or pancakes; let me tell you, I was tempted) and while I enjoyed them, I found them too salty, not so much as to spoil the experience, but enough for me to notice. My only other complaint would be the relative lack of vegetarian options: an Eggs Florentine to go with the Eggs Benedict would have been nice.
|1-3 NEWHALL STREET • BIRMINGHAM • B3 3NH
|+44 (0) 121 236 8090
|07:30 – 21:00
|Caravan (espresso + filter)
|07:30 – 19:00
|Tables, Sofas, Armchairs, Bar, Table (Outside)
|07:30 – 19:00
|Breakfast/Brunch, Sandwiches, Cake
|07:30 – 19:00
|Order at Counter
|07:30 – 19:00
|Amex, Mastercard, Visa, Droplet
|08:30 – 19:00
|09:30 – 19:00
|30th July 2013
You can see what my fellow blogger A Southern Belle in London made of Yorks. You can also see what I made of Yorks Cafe & Coffee Roasters, the successor the Cafe Bakery, and also what I thought of Yorks Espresso Bar, the little brother of the Yorks empire.
If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Birmingham’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Birmingham.
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