Yorks Bakery Café, Stephenson Street (Original)

Detail of the Yorks sign from above the door at Yorks Bakery Cafe, Stephenson Street.Yorks is a chain of two Birmingham cafés, Yorks Bakery Café, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, and Yorks Espresso Bar on Colmore Row. Originally though, there was just Yorks Bakery Café, which started life on Newhall Street. However, Newhall Street had to close at the end of last year, the building undergoing a major refurbishment. Stephenson Street, which opened last December, has taken over the mantle of Yorks Bakery Café.

In contrast to Newhall Street, which sprawled over three separate spaces, Stephenson Street is a compact, single, wedge-shaped room (what is it with Birmingham and wedge-shaped coffee shops?) seating just under 30 people. Despite this, it’s inherited much of Newhall Street’s menu, including cooked breakfasts/brunches, all prepared in the kitchen at the back, along with sandwiches, soup and cake.

The coffee is, as it always has been, from London’s Caravan, with (usually) one single-origin on espresso, another on filter (V60 or Aeropress) and decaf. However, everything’s changing in the near future, with Yorks expanding into the adjacent building. This should at least double the seating capacity and there are plans to start roasting. The extension should be complete in the next month or two, so stay tuned for updates!

June 2016: Yorks has now completed its expansion, which has added a lovely basement and lots more seating at the back. It’s also started roasting its own coffee and Stephenson Street now goes by the name Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters. This is the original write-up, published in February 2016. For an up-to-date description, please see the updated entry, while you can see what’s changed in my Coffee Spot Update.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

Located at the junction of Stephenson and Pinfold Streets (although Google Maps suggests Navigation and Pinfold Streets), the new Yorks Bakery Café is two minutes’ walk from the northern entrance to New Street Station/Grand Central. Whatever the streets are called, they meet at an acute angle (maybe 45⁰), resulting in an interesting, wedge-shaped space, with the double doors at the apex.

From the doors, flanked by a lovely pair of brick pillars, Yorks widens out, seating arrayed underneath the windows along either wall. The counter’s at the back, facing the doors, with more seating (window bars) to either side of the counter. Right at the back, behind the counter, is the small kitchen where all the food’s prepared.

Yorks is annoyingly slightly asymmetrical. To the left, there’s space for two four-person tables, then, after a stone and exposed-brick pillar, the window-bar seats four more. On the right, there’s enough space before the corresponding pillar for an extra two-person table, while the window-bar seats six.

Yorks has done a great job in fitting out Stephenson Street. There’s lots of dark wood, which goes well with the exposed stone and brick and the concrete counter. The corrugated tin ceiling is a nice touch. As much as I liked Yorks Espresso Bar, I think that this is even more beautiful.

The counter packs a lot in, with a large display case on the counter-top holding the cakes and sandwiches, leaving just enough space for the till. The left-hand side of the counter is open, allowing access to the kitchen at the back, while the right-hand side holds the espresso machine and its two grinders. A work surface against the back wall holds the EK-43 grinder (for the filter coffee) and the hot water boilers for filter/tea. Since there’s nowhere else for it to go, the bags of coffee are kept in cages above counter, with the menus right at the top.

When I first visited at the start of January, I had a late afternoon brie & mango chutney focaccia, which was really sweet and very tasty. Since I’d missed brunch by two hours (brunch stops at two, I arrived at four, although had it been a weekend, I’d have just made it), I popped back in early February (I was changing trains at New Street and had 50 minutes to kill). I had the excellent Eggs Portobello: think eggs Florentine, but, rather than spinach, with a (very tasty) Portobello mushroom under each egg.

I had filter coffee on both my visits. The first was from the Democratic Republic of Congo, only the second time I’ve had Congolese coffee. The barista recommended it as a V60, which was a good choice. Served on a tray, the coffee in a chemistry beaker with a small glass on the side, it was a juicy brew with lots of body and a consistent flavour as it cooled.

On my return, I had the same Burundian Buziraguhindwa that I’d had two days before at New Row Coffee, where I’d had it through the V60. For comparison purposes, I went for the Aeropress, although I suspect Yorks would have recommended the V60. While I liked it, I tend to agree with Yorks, preferring the V60 that I had at New Row, which was a little more balanced.

http://yorksbakerycafe.co.uk +44 (0) 121 643 4331
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Caravan (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables (benches + chairs), window-bars (stools)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Brunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits Original: 8th January, 5th February 2016
Update: 14th June, 11th 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.