Faculty

Some lovely latte-art in a classic, light green cup at Birmingham's FacultyFaculty is an old hand in Birmingham’s booming speciality coffee scene. Set up in early 2014 by the previous owners of Saint Caffe (now Saint Kitchen), it’s one of the city’s pioneers. Located at the southern end of the beautiful Piccadilly Arcade, it’s right outside the New Street entrance of Birmingham’s New Street Station, literally just around the corner from Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters and a few minutes’ walk from the likes of Tilt and 200 Degrees.

It’s so close to the station that you can rush out, get a takeaway coffee and be back in time to make your connection if you’re changing trains. I should know: I’ve done it often enough! However, it would be a shame if you couldn’t stay since it occupies a lovely space, sharing with Sixteen Kitchen, which serves breakfast, lunch and sandwiches on the left-hand side.

Faculty itself is a true multi-roaster, offering two options on espresso, two more on V60, plus a decaf option. If you don’t like the roaster/options, come back next week and the chances are they will have changed. There are cakes from Sixteen Kitchen, while you’re free to sit in either section and mix-and-match drinks and food.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Birmingham's beautiful Piccadilly Arcade, looking towards New Street. Faculty's on the left.
  • Alternatively, look in the other direction (towards New Street Station) and it's on the right.
  • Either way, the A-board lets you know that you've come to the right place.
  • Faculty (right) & Sixteen Kitchen (left) form one combined space with a single, central door.
  • A look up at the signs confirms this (although please do admire the stained glass as well).
  • Stepping inside, this is the view of Faculty from the door...
  • ... while this is the view the other way (left) into Sixteen Kitchen.
  • And here are the two combined, the picture taken from just inside the door.
  • Heading into Faculty, you'll find the counter at the back & most of the seating at the front.
  • I find it a very elegant space, all wood and exposed brick.
  • You can sit at one of the tables in the front if you like...
  • ... or grab a stool at the counter, by the brew-bar, to watch your filter coffee being made.
  • Heading into Sixteen Kitchen, the layout is the same, with the counter at the back...
  • ... and the seating at the front, although it's been reorganised since I took these photos.
  • Despite having a long front made almost entirely of glass, there are plenty of light-bulbs...
  • ... which are kept in cages to stop them running off!
  • Obligatory light-bulb shot.
  • Next door in Sixteen Kitchen, the light bulbs are the same, but they have different cages.
  • This beauty hangs above the doorway, but it's a terrible photo, for which I apologise.
  • Right, to business. Let's head through to Sixteen Kitchen to order something to eat.
  • The menus are written up on the wall behind the counter...
  • .... although the menu is also stuck to the window so you don't have to go inside to check.
  • At lunchtime, the food is laid out temptingly on the counter.
  • Spoiled for choice, I went for this excellent mushroom, pepper and halloumi sandwich.
  • Time to order my coffee. Let's head back to Faculty (you can sit on either side, by the way).
  • The counter in detail. The cakes and till are the left, while the brew bar is on the right.
  • In the back right-hand corner is a set of retail shelves, selling coffee-kit and...
  • ... whatever beans are on at the moment. Plus, there's always some Square Mile.
  • More retail choices on the counter.
  • The brew bar, where the V60s are made...
  • Alternatively, there's always the Synesso espresso machine in the corner.
  • The menus are all on the back wall.
  • This is the coffee and tea menu...
  • ... while you'll find the espresso choices on this pinboard.
  • Meanwhile the filter choices are written up on this roll of paper.
  • On my visit in May, I decided to try one of the pour-overs, which was lovingly made.
  • As ever with the V60, concentration when pouring is essential...
  • ... although having a good gooseneck kettle obviously helps!
  • Almost done!
  • Faculty's presentation is excellent. This is a Brazilian single-origin, from The Barn in Berlin.
  • My coffee, as seen from above.
  • On my return at the end of July, I had an amazing Kenyan from Bath's Round Hill Roastery.
  • Here it is from above. I am nothing if not predictable when it comes to my photos!
  • Returning to the present, this is the whole ensemble of what I had.
  • The oat brownie (from Sixteen Kitchen) was as awesome as the coffee...
  • ... while the water comes in little milk bottles.
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Faculty is located in Birmingham’s beautiful Piccadilly Arcade. Regular readers will know that I have a thing about arcades and this is another great example. If you are interested, check out my original write-up of Faculty from August 2014 for details of the arcade’s history.

Although they are separate businesses, Faculty and the neighbouring Sixteen Kitchen cooperate with each other. Faculty, on the right, and Sixteen Kitchen, on the left, share a common, central entrance. You welcome to order coffee in one, food in the other and then sit wherever you can. The bulk of the seating, however, is over in Faculty, where you’ll find the counter at the back, with the seating in two rows at the front. This first occupies the massive, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window, which lets in plenty of natural (albeit borrowed) light from the arcade. The second row runs between counter and window, a mix-and-match of two- and four-person tables/school desks, stools for seating. Alternatively, you can sit at the end of the counter on one of three stools, watching your coffee being made at the brew bar.

The décor is predominantly wood: wooden floorboards, wooden counter, wooden furniture. The walls and ceiling are whitewashed, except for the back wall, which is exposed brick. Two rows of bare bulbs, one above the counter, the other above the seating, supplement the light from the arcade.

Alternatively, head next door into Sixteen Kitchen. This can be busy at lunchtimes, but when the kitchen stops serving mid-afternoon, it becomes overflow seating for Faculty. The unit’s a mirror image of Faculty with the same all-encompassing window. However, the counter is now against the left-hand wall, with a limited amount of seating in front of it.

The two operate an excellent share-and-share-alike policy. You can order food in Sixteen Kitchen and sit in Faculty or order coffee in Faculty and sit in Sixteen Kitchen. Wherever you are, the staff will bring your order to you. Sixteen Kitchen serves breakfast until 11.30, with sandwiches and salads for lunch. There’s a choice of six sandwiches, two of which are vegetarian. I had a beautifully-toasted sandwich, the filling consisting nice, big chunks of mushroom, pepper and halloumi, offering contrasting tastes and textures.

Faculty’s coffee changes rapidly, the espresso altering every 10 days or so, the filter every few days! Several times the menu has been changed while I’ve been sitting there! You can also buy retail bags of whatever’s on, plus there’s always some Square Mile retail bags.

I’ve been a semi-regular visitor to Faculty since it opened, popping in whenever I can while changing trains at New Street Station, usually for a flat white to go, or for a pour-over if I have more time. I’ve also grabbed more than one sandwich and the occasional cake to take with me on the train.

Faculty regularly gets its coffee from some of the country’s best roasters, such as Bath’s Round Hill Roastery and Colonna Coffee, while also venturing further afield, to the like of Berlin’s The Barn. Some of the best coffee I’ve drunk has been at Faculty, often enjoyed while sitting at the brew-bar, and it’s never failed to delight me. For the specific details (which includes various sandwiches and some awesome cakes), please see my original write-up and my Coffee Spot Update.


August 2016: this is an updated version of the original post which was published in August 2014. You can see what has changed in my Coffee Spot Update.

December 2016: Faculty has won the 2016 Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award and was a runner-up for the 2016 Best Filter Coffee Award.

14 PICCADILLY ARCADE • BIRMINGHAM • B2 4HD
www.facultycoffee.com
Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables with benches, Bar
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:30 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 11:00 – 16:00 Power No
Chain No Visits Original: 6th August 2014
Update: 4th May 2016, 29th July 2016

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of Birmingham’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Birmingham.


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