6/8 Kafé isn’t a big place. Located at the bottom of Temple Row, a few minutes’ walk from Birmingham’s New Street, Moor Hill and Snow Hill stations, it’s so small that, momentarily distracted by the branch of Coffee Republic (a chain which I thought had become extinct) across the street, I walked right past it. Fortunately I realised my mistake and retraced my steps.
Unlike Yorks Bakery Cafe, which I’d just come from and had fallen in love with the moment I stepped in the door, 6/8 Kafé took a while to grow on me, but grow on me it did. It’s the sort of place I could easily spend all day in without realising it. While Yorks is a large, buzzing, sprawling barn of a place, 6/8 Kafé is small, intimate and chilled out.
Although 6/8 Kafé does sandwiches and cake, the focus is firmly on the coffee, with an offering very similar to Yorks. There’s a full espresso-based range, backed up by a choice of three single-origin beans via Chemex, V60 or Aeropress, plus cold brew, the latter served with or without milk. The only thing that’s missing (compared to Yorks) is a cafetiere.
May 2017: Sadly, 6/8 Kafé has had to close. It will be sadly missed, although the Millennium Point branch is still going strong.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
6/8 Kafé has an unassuming frontage, four small tables, accompanied by bright red chairs, occupying the pavement outside. While the street is busy with people, there’s little traffic, making sitting outside an option. Inside, a generous floor-to-ceiling window, coupled with glass double-doors, let in plenty of light. The counter dominates the right-hand side, cake to the fore, coffee behind and espresso machine/brew bar bringing up the rear. Opposite the counter is a row of six two-person tables with a padded bench running the length of the wall, ending with a four-person table in the far corner. There’s a bar in the window, another tiny one at the end of the counter and, right at the back, a neat two-person bar which the manager, Hannah, had stationed herself at.
I know you shouldn’t judge a Coffee Spot by its customers alone, but for me, 6/8 Kafé was perfectly summed up by the man at the four-person table, back to the wall, facing the windows. Mobile phone and car keys on the table in front of him, he took occasional sips from his cup, but otherwise sat perfectly still, looking totally relaxed and at one with the world as he communed with his coffee.
The music also fits the bill; while I was there, it struck just the right tone, starting with Joy Division. Loud enough to be heard, but quiet enough that it was always in the background, the music was never too upbeat, perfectly complementing the laid-back atmosphere.
Alarm bells rang when I noticed that 6/8 Kafé is supplied by Has Bean. However, now that I understand what I do and don’t like from Staffordshire’s finest roaster, this no longer holds the terror it once did. With the Jailbreak blend on the Synesso, an espresso was out of the question, but a piccolo, cortado or flat white looked very tempting.
However, the barista, Aaran, recommended the Sumatran Wahana Lingtong as a V60 pour-over. Experience has taught me to go with my barista’s recommendations and, as is often the case, I was very well rewarded for my loyalty. I watched as Aaran made my coffee with considerable care and precision. It came in a glass and I was relieved to see that it didn’t look like tea: always a good start! It was a rich, smooth, full-bodied brew: one of the best I’ve had.
At Aaran’s behest, I also tried the espresso, which, while beautifully made, confirmed my suspicions that Jailbreak, like other Has Bean blends before it, is not for me. I also sampled the cold brew which, as ever, is a very different beast. I’d have loved to have tried it with milk (and tried the Jailbreak as a cortado) but I was already over-caffeinated and had to decline the offer.
To counter the coffee overload, I had the last slice of the amaretti and raspberry cake, which was lovely. More cake than sponge, with a very crisp top, it was rich and slightly crumbly, with real raspberries, the sharpness of which beautifully offset the sweetness of the cake.
There are changes afoot at 6/8 Kafé: the aim is to open the basement (currently used as a function space) on a permanent basis, along with a re-vamp of the coffee menu. So, as they say, watch this space.
September 2015: you can also see what I made of the new 6/8 Kafé in Millennium Point.
|6/8 TEMPLE ROW • BIRMINGHAM • B2 5HG|
|www.sixeightkafe.co.uk||+44 (0) 121 448 8089|
|Monday||07:30 – 18:00||Roaster||Has Bean (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Benches, Bar, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 18:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa (£0.25 under £6), Droplet|
|Saturday||10:00 – 17:30||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:30 – 16:30||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||30th July 2013|
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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