Yorks is a chain of three Birmingham cafés which started with Yorks Bakery Café on Newhall Street. This was joined by Yorks Espresso Bar on Colmore Row, while there’s now a third at the Ikon Gallery. However, the original on Newhall Street closed when the building underwent a major refurbishment, the mantle of Yorks Bakery Café passing to the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, Yorks’ Stephenson Street branch.
These days, Stephenson Street is Yorks’ flagship branch. Not long after it opened, Yorks expanded into the adjacent unit, adding additional seating at the back and more in a lovely basement, which effectively tripled the available space. Best of all, there was rooom at the back for a roaster, Yorks making the transition to Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters.
These days Yorks roasts all its own coffee, serving a seasonal single-origin espresso, plus a rotating single-origin filter on bulk-brew, with all the beans available to buy. Just as much of a draw is the food, with awesome breakfast, lunch and evening menus, plus a tasty selection of cake. You can sit in the original, wedge-shaped area at the front, in the new seating at the back, or downstairs in the spacious basement.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Located at the junction of Stephenson and Pinfold Streets, Yorks Café & Coffee Roasters is housed a wedged-shaped building two minutes’ walk from the northern entrance to Birmingham’s New Street Station/Grand Central. There are two doors, the original at the tip of the wedge (the front), and a second on Pinfold Street, added when Yorks expanded into the adjacent unit.
Entering at the front, where the doors are flanked by a lovely pair of brick pillars, you find yourself in a slightly asymmetrical space, with rows of tables lining the windows to left and right. The counter starts off ahead of you, crammed with tempting cakes, but then curves around to run parallel with Stephenson Street on the left. This leaves space for more seating to the right, effectively behind the counter, where there’s a bar overlooking Pinfold Street, and another opposite that along the back of the counter (perfect for espresso-machine watching).
To the left, there’s further seating opposite the counter, where three high, four-person tables jut out perpendicular to the windows. Beyond this is even 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. At the back, a narrow training area runs along the wall to a small, platform-like space overlooking Pinfold Street, which houses the Probat roaster. Between here and the counter, a long flight of steps descends to the second door on Pinfold Street, which itself slopes steeply down towards the station.
Halfway down these steps (or halfway up if you’re coming in), another long flight of steps branches off towards the front of Yorks, leading to the basement. Ahead of you, at the bottom of the steps, there’s a wedge-shaped seating area, mirroring that above. There are 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, the basement widens out, with three more tables against another bench and 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.
Over the course of many visits, I’ve extensively sampled the breakfast/brunch menu, including the shakshuka (baked eggs and yoghurt served in a skillet) and Arabian Buttered Eggs, while the Eggs Portobello (think Eggs Florentine, but with, rather than spinach, a Portobello mushroom under each egg) is still my go-to choice. I’ve also been working my way through the lunch/other menu, where I really enjoyed the falafel flatbread. Other options include small plates, poutine and burgers.
I’ve also enjoyed various coffees, all roasted at the back of the store. The first seasonal espresso was a 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. On my latest visit, I had the Rwandan espresso, which went very well in my flat white, the milk and coffee in perfect harmony. I look forward to sampling many more on my future visits!
July 2017: this is an updated version of the original post I made in February 2016, where you can see what Stephenson Street was like before it was expanded. You can see what has changed in my Coffee Spot Update.
|29 STEPHENSON STREET • BIRMINGHAM • B2 4BH
|+44 (0) 121 643 4331
|07:30 – 22:00
|Yorks Coffee Roasters (espresso + bulk-brew)
|07:30 – 19:00
|Tables, Window Bars, Tables (outside)
|07:30 – 20:00
|Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Cake
|07:30 – 20:00
|Order at Counter (get a table number first)
|07:30 – 20:00
|Amex, Mastercard, Visa
|08:30 – 20:00
|Free (with code)
|09:30 – 18:00
|Original: 8th January, 5th February 2016
|Update: 14th June, 11th July 2016, 27th July 2017
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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