I visited Yorks Bakery Café on Birmingham’s Stephenson Street in January 2016, not long after it had opened, replacing the original on Newhall Street, which had to close due to a major refurbishment. Even then, changes were afoot at Stephenson Street since the neighbouring unit had become available, giving Yorks the chance to expand. I wrote up my original visit, intending this post to be a short update describing the new space. However, on my return last month, I found the newly-expanded Yorks to be so radically different that I scrapped that plan and decided to start from scratch…
Also worked subtly into the expansion was a name-change from Yorks Bakery Café to Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters, reflecting Yorks move into roasting its own coffee. As well as plenty of additional seating, Yorks has used the extra space to install a very shiny Probat roaster. There’s also a fabulous basement which houses more much-needed seating and a large kitchen. This is now turning out a really impressive (and expanded) breakfast & brunch menu, plus an equally impressive lunch menu. Yorks is serving espresso-based drinks using a seasonal single-origin, plus bulk-brew filter with a rotating single-origin which changes every week.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Yorks is housed a wedged-shaped building just outside Birmingham’s New Street Station, where Stephenson Street meets Pinfold Street. Originally occupying just the tip of the building, Yorks had enough space for a kitchen/counter at the back and a row of tables down either side. However, this was always going to be too small, so Yorks jumped at the chance to take over the neighbouring unit. This gave Yorks a space behind the old counter, plus a whole downstairs area, now a fantastic, high-ceilinged basement, following the wedge-shape of the store above. However, Yorks hasn’t just knocked through the back wall: it’s totally remodelled the place.
You still enter at the pointy end, and there’s still seating lining the windows to left and right. However, rather than the counter being crammed in at the back, narrow bars tucked alongside the flanking windows, this has been totally reworked. The counter now runs parallel to Stephenson Street, curving around to face the door, where it’s crammed with tempting cakes. The coffee is as dangerous as ever, locked up in cages above the counter in case it gets out and runs amok. Meanwhile, to the counter’s right, there’s now enough space for two bars, one lining the windows overlooking Pinfold Street, the other along the back of the counter (perfect for espresso-machine watching).
On the other side, there’s even more space. The narrow window-bar’s been replaced by three high four-person tables perpendicular to the windows, while there’s more seating at the back. Four two-person tables run along a bench beneath the windows on the left, with a large, six-person table in the middle. To the right, there’s a narrow training area, and, beyond that, overlooking Pinfold Street, a very shiny Probat roaster. Between here and the counter, a long flight of steps descends to a second entrance on Pinfold Street, where another long flight of steps leads to the wedge-shaped basement.
The steps deposit you just where the wall between the two units used to be. Ahead of you, the tip of the wedge has two high four-person tables projecting from the wood-clad wall on the left. On the right, two smaller tables line a bench running along the wall. Behind you, where the basement widens out, there are three more tables against another bench, with another two-person table tucked against the stairs. In the middle is a large, four-person round table. Finally, an opening in the back wall leads to the kitchen.
I had to sample the new breakfast/brunch menu, selecting the shakshuka (baked eggs and yoghurt served in a skillet). This was very fine, if a little spicy. The eggs were excellent, whites firm, yolks runny (I never manage this), served with plenty of lovely, thick toast. I followed this with the chai-spiced cheesecake, rich and creamy, with a light, spicy flavour on top. I also tried the lunch/other menu, grabbing a flat bread to take on the train. It was amazing, the bread really soft and chewy, generously filled with some very tasty falafel.
During my visit in June, Yorks was in a transition period, using Caravan on some days, and its own beans on others. On my return this month, it had moved to exclusively using its own beans. I had a lovely house-roasted single-origin Brazilian which I tried as both an espresso and piccolo. It was bright, and a little on the acidic side, but nothing that detracted from the overall balance of the coffee. It also went really well with the milk, the milk’s natural sweetness combining with acidity in the espresso to create a really well-rounded drink.
There’s a full write-up of Yorks Cafe & Coffee Roasters, including a complete gallery, in its main entry. You can also see what I made of Stephenson Street before it was expanded in my original write-up from last year.
|29 STEPHENSON STREET • BIRMINGHAM • B2 4BH|
|www.yorkscafe.co.uk||+44 (0) 121 643 4331|
|Monday||07:30 – 22:00||Roaster||Yorks Coffee Roasters (espresso + bulk-brew)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bars, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 20:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 20:00||Service||Order at Counter (get a table number first)|
|Friday||07:30 – 20:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:30 – 20:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:30 – 18:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Local||Visits||Update: 14th June, 11th July 2016|
|Original: 8th January, 5th February 2016|
You can also see what I made of the Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters’ little brother, Yorks Espresso Bar.
If you liked this, then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Birmingham for more great Coffee Spots.
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