Another Pop Up in Digbeth

The words "Another Pop Up in Digbeth" written in orange inside an orange circle on a blue background. POP UP is in capitals, with the space in the O replaced by an upwards-pointing arrow.Despite the name, Another Pop Up in Digbeth (Pop Up Digbeth for short) isn’t a pop-up, although it is in Digbeth, so I suppose one out of two’s not bad. Digbeth, for those not in the know, is an old, industrial area, immediately southeast of Birmingham city centre, about a 20-minute walk from New Street Station. Both Digbeth’s history and regeneration can be neatly symbolised by the Custard Factory, where Bird’s once made its famous custard powder, and where Pop Up Digbeth now makes its home, along with a host of start-ups and other small businesses.

Having opened at the start of the year, Pop Digbeth is here to stay, serving healthy food to go at breakfast and lunch, backed up by a rotating offer on espresso from the local Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters. There’s also a selection of home-made cakes for those looking for a sweet-treat with their coffee. Seating is provided in a spacious adjacent unit, with more seating outside overlooking the pool in the Custard Factory’s central courtyard. Mostly serving the offices that call the Custard Factory home, Pop Up Digbeth’s opening hours reflect this with a closing time of 3.30 and very limited weekend opening.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Alfred Bird & Sons and the Devonshire Works, where Bird's Custard used to be made.
  • However, we're heading just a little further on, to Gibb Street in fact.
  • If you can't see the sign clearly, it says 'Custard Factory'. In we go...
  • The narrow street curves around to the right, then opens out to this courtyard.
  • We're heading over there, to the far, right-hand corner, beyond the fountain.
  • However, before we do, let's turn left and head into what's called the Inner Pool.
  • Here be Dragons! While everyone's playing Pokemon Go, we're after the real thing!
  • Anyway, detour over. Let's get back to the main courtyard.
  • This is what we're aiming for, on the far side of the fountain.
  • Approaching along the right of the pool, you get a good view of the outside seating.
  • There are two entrances: there's a handy in (right) and out (left) system by the counter...
  • ... or you can go in through these double-doors to the right...
  • ... which takes you into this spacious seating area, seen here from the left of the doors.
  • There's this little alcove off to the right: the toilets are down here too.
  • The view of the seating area, looking back from the alcove. The doors are on the left.
  • Some of the seating at the back: it's all communal tables with attached benches.
  • A doorway on the left leads through to the counter area.
  • The counter area, as seen from the seating area. The 'in' door is just to the left.
  • Alternatively, if you've come in that way, the seating is off to your right through this doorway.
  • The counter, as seen from the door. It was late in the day, so lunch was being cleared away.
  • A panoramic view of the counter. There's also a sandwich chiller just out of shot to the right.
  • If you want to keep the barista company, there's a small bar at the far end.
  • Alternatively, head outside (when it's not raining) where you can sit at one of the tables.
  • It wouldn't be a Coffee Spot without at least one lightbulb shot.
  • I did say 'at least one'. This is it, though, I promise.
  • The artwork that adorns the walls in both rooms is all for sale.
  • So, to business. The menus are on the wall behind the counter.
  • The daily hot boxes, available for lunch, are written up on here.
  • There's also breakfast (earlier in the day) and, if you want a treat, these lovely-looking cakes.
  • Another look at the cakes.
  • The coffee and tea menu. Concise and informative.
  • The coffee is from local roaster, Quarter Horse, with the particular beans chalked up here.
  • The (coffee) heart of the operation.
  • I had an espresso. It's takeaway cups only, so bring your own. I brought my Kaffeform cup.
  • Neat branding on the corners of the tables!
  • I'll leave you with one last shot of my coffee :-)
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Birmingham’s specialty coffee scene has boomed in the last year, but it’s still centred on the compact city centre. With the honourable exception of Quarter Horse Coffee on Bristol Street, it’s also all to the north New Street Station. Except, of course, for the Custard Factory, Digbeth’s speciality coffee outpost. I’d originally ventured outside my comfort zone seeking the Cranked Café in Cranked Custom Cycles after a tip-off from my friend Narj of Didi Bakes. Unfortunately, Cranked’s relocating to another unit in the Custard Factory and is out of action until September.

Disconsolate (and coffee-less!) I decided to explore, being something of a fan of old industrial architecture. After running away from a rather fearsome dragon, I found myself admiring the fountain in the Custard Factory’s central courtyard. Then something set off my coffee shop radar: Pop Up Digbeth, tucked away on the courtyard’s far side.

A few round tables are scattered outside by the pool, a perfect spot when it’s not raining. Naturally it was raining, so I went inside. Pop Up Digbeth occupies two spaces: to the left, a self-contained counter area; to the right, a large, spacious seating area, each with independent entrances from the courtyard. The seating area has glass double doors, while the counter area runs a neat in-out queuing system: enter through the right-hand of two doors, order at the counter directly ahead, move to the left, collect food/coffee, leave through the left-hand door. Simple and clever.

The doors are in a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall glass front which overlooks the fountain. Short and wide, there just enough space for the counter against the back wall and a small bar against the left-hand wall. The espresso machine’s also down this end, while to the right, a chiller cabinet for sandwiches stands next to an opening in the wall leading to the seating area.

This has its own generous window overlooking the courtyard and is wide and deep, with a relatively low ceiling. Spacious and uncluttered, there are four picnic tables, all with attached bench seats. Two six-person tables are against the back wall, while a four-person table is against the left-hand wall. A final four-seater occupies the centre of the room. There’s also a free-standing high table with no chairs. Off to the right, a smaller alcove houses another six-person and another four-person table.

Pop Up Digbeth is an offshoot of Eastside Catering, a contract caterer, which serves many of the offices in the Custard Factory. When it comes to food, Pop Up Digbeth looks to provide nutritionally-balanced meals, using only fresh, natural ingredients with no unnatural preservatives or additives, providing healthy options to go for breakfast/lunch.

I was too late to try either breakfast or lunch (breakfast was long gone, lunch was being cleared away). However, I did sample the coffee, deciding to put Pop Up Digbeth to the test with an espresso. In keeping with its to-go motif, it only has takeaway cups, so I fished out my Kaffeeform cup. The espresso offering changes every couple of weeks, with single-origins and blends on offer. I’d just missed a Guatemalan single-origin which had run out that morning, instead having Quarter Horse’s seasonal Dark Horse blend (60% Costa Rica, 40% El Salvador). This produced a nicely-balanced shot, with interesting fruity notes, but not too bright.

CUSTARD FACTORY • GIBB STREET • BIRMINGHAM • B9 4AA
www.facebook.com/popupdigbeth +44 (0) 7967 189128
Monday 08:30 – 15:30 Roaster Quarter Horse (espresso only)
Tuesday 08:30 – 15:30 Seating Tables, Bar, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:30 – 15:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cakes
Thursday 08:30 – 15:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:30 – 15:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 13:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday CLOSED Power Limited
Chain No Visits 29th July 2016

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Birmingham for more great Coffee Spots.


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