6/8 Kafé

A 6/8 Kafe takeaway cup6/8 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.

  • Despite my failure to notice it, 6/8 Kafe's fairly obvious once you know it's there!
  • Four tables on the pavement outside provide one seating option.
  • The view from the door: cake! Plus Aaran the Barista, doing what he does best.
  • On closer inspection it's more cookies than cake, but nonetheless it's a welcome sight.
  • To your left as you come in, opposite the counter, is the main seating area.
  • Detail of the seats by the window.
  • The four-person table in the corner. The chilled-out man had left when I took this picture.
  • More of the seating opposite the counter.
  • If that's not to your tastes, you can sit at the bar by the window...
  • ... or the little bar at the counter's end (where you can watch your pour-over being made).
  • ... or there's this little bar, right at the back, although Hannah the manager was stationed there during my visit. A good spot to keep an eye on the whole cafe though.
  • The walls are hung with the work of local artists, something I am increasingly seeing in cafes.
  • The view of the counter from my seat along the side, starting (on the right) with the cake...
  • ... then comes the coffee, espresso machine and, off-screen to the left, the brew bar.
  • On the shelves behind the counter there's a kettle, Syphon, Chemex, Aeropress & ... tea?
  • Wait, that's better :-)
  • I'm a sucker for a pretty cup!
  • So, what to have? As much as I admire what Hasbean does as a roaster, prior experience has taught me that the Jailbreak blend is not for me as a straight espresso.
  • There's a full menu of alternatives though. The piccolo and cortado look tempting...
  • ... or how about a cold brew?
  • In the end though, I went with Aaron the Barista's recommendation, the Sumatra Wahana Lingtong Natural Rasuna as a V60 pour-over.
  • So, what to go with it? Well, cake, obviously! But which one?
  • You won't have seen the one I actually went for (the amaretti cake) since I had the last slice.
  • Here it is with the coffee.
  • The espresso machine was very tempting though...
  • Here's Aaran making a flat white (for another customer) and practicing his latte art...
  • ... et voila!
  • Aaran also convinced me to give the Jailbreak another try. Sadly the result was rather predictable; although beautifully made, it  just wasn't to my taste.
  • And finally, here's the downstairs, currently only in use as a function space.
  • I liked the see-through chairs...
  • However, the plan is to bring it into regular use: here's the La Marzocco ready for action.
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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.

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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