Here I am in Boston, Massachusetts, and so I thought to myself, what’s more appropriate than posting about The Boston Tea Party? Well, I’ll be the first to admit, it’s probably not very appropriate at all, but it suits my sense of humour, so there you go.
Today’s Boston Tea Party is, to date, the most northerly Tea Party. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s the Birmingham branch, which has been going just over a year. As a chain, the Boston Tea Party has the commendable habit of taking iconic buildings and turning them into excellent cafés. In Birmingham, it’s done it again and, what’s more, I think it’s surpassed itself this time with its most handsome branch so far. It’s also got the largest single-floor area of all the branches I’ve visited.
Being a Boston Tea Party, there’s the usual Tea Party offering, including a full range of food (with the all-important all-day breakfast menu), extensive cake selection and coffee from Bristol roasters, Extract, with espresso-based drinks and single-origin on the bulk filter. It also pulls off the usual Tea Party trick of simultaneously being a Boston Tea Party and yet being very much its own place.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
You know you are in for a treat when you first catch sight of the Boston Tea Party as you approach along Corporation Street. Set on the ground floor of an old building, occupying what used to be a restaurant, the Birmingham branch cuts an imposing figure, although not as imposing as the Victoria Law Courts across the road.
While the Boston Tea Party looks big from the outside, it feels even bigger as you step through the double-doors at the far end of the store, which stretches out ahead of you. Compared to its length, the space is fairly narrow, but given that it’s as wide as many coffee shops are long, it’s all relative! As with all Boston Tea Parties, the space is split, with the counter in the front as you come in and the main seating at the back. This is actually down a couple of steps in a separate building with the party wall knocked through.
Contrary to the usual model, there’s plenty of seating in the front as well, with the Boston Tea Party making full use of the space at its disposal. The counter, to your right, is huge, while opposite are three high, six-person tables with bar stools. There are also two window bars behind you on the right as you come in. Beyond the tables on the left is another seating area with eight two-person tables running along a padded leather-bench, foreshadowing much of the seating at the back. Here the store widens out a bit and another red leather bench (reminiscent of the branch in Bath, but on a much larger scale) runs along the width of the back wall.
Overall it’s a large space, but it’s split into multiple smaller, more intimate spaces by the clever use of the furniture, including an island of red, leather benches in the centre of the room. This means it avoids the cavernous, barn-like feeling that can afflict some large buildings (upstairs the Exeter branch springs to mind). There are numerous stand-alone two- and four-person tables, larger communal tables, the trademark Boston Tea Party armchairs and, best of all, a pair of booths right at the back on the left-hand side. This is, of course, where I made a bee-line for.
The interior is physically handsome, with exposed brick walls, lots of wood (including the tables, several areas of panelling and the counter), high ceilings and plenty of windows along Corporation Street which runs the full length of the store. This, coupled with multiple lights hanging down from ceiling on long leads, makes it a very bright and spacious.
In the front part of the store, the floor is tiled in a lovely chess-board pattern, while the back has an equally lovely wooden floor. There is no music, just a gentle background hum of people chatting over coffee, which is just how I like it.
The food and coffee are the typical Boston Tea Party offering. I had the Eggs Florentine with extra toast, which is what I always have. I know I say I’ll have something else one day, but I never do. I paired that with an excellent flat white, with the coffee coming strongly through the milk, which is what I’ve come to expect from the Boston Tea Party.
You can also see what I made of all the other branches of the Boston Tea Party that I’ve visited.
|190 CORPORATION STREET • BIRMINGHAM • B4 6QD|
|www.bostonteaparty.co.uk||+44 (0) 121 236 2972|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Extract (espresso + bulk-brew)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Booths, Armchairs, Sofas, Tables outside|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 18:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 18:00||Power||Very limited|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||13th February 2014|
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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