Once upon a time, in the summer of last year, I read an interesting article in the Birmingham Mail about a coffee shop that had opened in a phone box. It was the end of July and, as luck would have it, I was passing through Birmingham that week, so I took a wander along Colmore Row, where I found said telephone box. But no coffee shop. Somewhat dispirited, I wandered off again and the whole coffee-shop-in-phone-box thing rather slipped my mind. Unknown to me, the article had jumped the gun and the coffee-shop-in-phone-box, Jake’s Coffee Box, actually opened the following week…
Fast-forward to this summer and I was once again wandering along Colmore Row, looking for another coffee shop that hadn’t actually opened yet (the Birmingham branch of 200 Degrees). Glancing down Eden Place, I suddenly remembered the phone box, so I wandered down to see what was there…
July 2017: Sadly Jake’s Coffee Box is no more. I believe that Jake has realised his long-term amibition to go travelling in Brazil and was unable to find anyone to take the Coffee Box on, but I’ve not been able to confirm that. Thanks to Nick for the initial heads-up about the Coffee Box closing.
You can see what I found after the gallery.
Eden Place runs along the side of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, connecting Victoria Square to the south with Edmund Street to the north (don’t be fooled by the phone box’s official address of 125 Colmore Row, although Eden Place is at the end of Colmore Row). Half way along Eden Place, past the Starbucks, but on the opposite side of the street, you’ll find a pair of red telephone boxes. These are of the old-fashioned type, fully enclosed, with the small panes glass, the nearer one of which houses Jake’s Coffee Box.
I say houses, but that’s a slight misnomer. It houses the espresso machine (with built-in grinder) and, for good measure, a hot chocolate machine as well. The counter, which sits outside the front of the phone box, is a table with a matching red-and-white checked table cloth, plus there’s an awning to keep the rain off. Even so, despite this largess, it’s probably smaller in terms of working space than Newcastle’s Hatch Coffee, although it’s got more seating, boasting a pair of fold up tables. In this respect, it’s more reminiscent of Reading’s Tamp Culture, where the role of telephone box is played by a more traditional Piaggio Ape.
Despite its lack of size, Jake’s Coffee Box packs a lot in. There’s porridge and toast, for example, which I wasn’t expecting, plus cakes and sausage rolls, as well as a wide range of tea, plus hot chocolate from the aforementioned machine. And there was me expecting nothing more than coffee and maybe a tea bag or two.
The coffee, during my visit, was from local roasters, Quarter Horse. Ironically, Quarter Horse was one of the places that I visited on the day when I failed to find Jake’s Coffee Box back in July last year. Jake (pleasingly, the owner of Jake’s Coffee Box is indeed called Jake) uses a one-group Expobar Pico espresso machine with integral grinder which is housed in the phone box itself. He serves all the usual espresso-based drinks, but, unsurprisingly, it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.
I had a flat white, which was excellent, the coffee coming strongly through the milk. I also got to chat with Jake about coffee in general and found him to be extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. My timing, as usual, was poor, since I was in need of some lunch, but had arrived too late to partake in the Coffee Box’s legendary sausage rolls, all of which had gone by the time I arrived. As it was, my stomach was grumbling, so I had to move on, otherwise I’d have been inclined to stay for an espresso and an even longer natter.
December 2016: Jake’s Coffee Box has won the 2016 Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award.
|EDEN PLACE • 125 COLMORE ROW • BIRMINGHAM • B3 3SD|
|Monday||09:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Quarter Horse (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||09:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables|
|Wednesday||09:00 – 16:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||09:00 – 16:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 16:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Chain||No||Visits||17th June 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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