200 Degrees, Birmingham

The number 200⁰ in a diamond outline over the word "COFFEE"200 Degrees, which started life as a roaster in Nottingham, before opening its first café two years ago, has now expanded into Birmingham, hot on the heels of its second Nottingham outlet. The Birmingham branch, which opened its doors in August, is very much in look and feel like the original in Flying Horse Walk in Nottingham. Both are long and thin, replete with wooden panelling and exposed brick, although the Birmingham branch has much higher ceilings and a simpler layout.

In keeping with the original, 200 Degrees is unashamedly aimed at the mass-market coffee drinker, with a plush, well-appointed interior that would put many coffee chains to shame. The house espresso, Brazilian Love Affair, has a touch of Robusta which might put some off, but it provides a strong, dark coffee that many in the mainstream will be familiar with. This is backed up by the interestingly-named Mellowship Slinky Decaf, while there’s always a single-origin guest espresso, plus another single-origin on filter which provide a path to speciality coffee for those who want to tread it. Finally, there’s cold-brew on tap, a good range of breakfast, lunch and sandwich options, plus cake, all enjoyed in very pleasant, relaxed surroundings.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The new 200 Degrees in Birmingham, looking distinctly not open in June this year...
  • ...although I did find the advertising boards amusing.
  • However, two months later, I was back in Birmingham and it was looking rather more open.
  • The sign was hanging up outside...
  • ... while the A-board was out and about on the pavemet.
  • Best of all, the advertising boards, as witty as they were, had gone.
  • Let's go in shall? Just choose a door. Either will do :-)
  • Stepping inside, the seating is to the left and down the centre...
  • ... while the counter is to the right, food first, then the coffee.
  • 200 Degrees goes a long way back, by the way. This is beyond the counter at the back...
  • ... while there's more seating at the back by these fireplaces on the left.
  • The view from the back, with the windows at the front providing the only natural light.
  • The seating, on the right this time...
  • ... and the counter on the left.
  • Some of the seating in more detail: I liked this table in the window...
  • ... while the blue padded couch/bench is the place to go if you need to plug in your laptop.
  • The row of tables down the centre.
  • However, there's more. At the back, beyond the counter and disabled toilet, are steps...
  • ... leading tantalising down.
  • The helpful sign let's you know what's down there.
  • Let's go, shall we?
  • At the bottom of the stairs, double doors lead into...
  • ... 200 Degrees' barista training room, complete with various espresso machines...
  • ... and a lovely-looking conference table.
  • A typical 200 Degrees feature: the merchandising is so fierce, it needs to be locked up!
  • There's another lock-up upstairs between the two fireplaces.
  • Talking of which, here's the one on the left...
  • ... while this one is on the right, with its rocking chairs and tables made of old speakers.
  • The 'fire' in one of the fireplaces in detail.
  • Since the windows at the front are the only source of natural light, light-fittings abound.
  • These beauties hang above the counter on the right...
  • ... while these hang above the blue couch.
  • More of the lights, with these large pendants hanging in the middle...
  • ... and towards the front of 200 Degrees.
  • Meanwhile, these fellows can be found downstairs.
  • More awesome lights, this time of the caged, bare-bulb variety, right at the back.
  • Chandelier!
  • One of the glass light-fittings from above the counter...
  • ... and one of the caged ones from the back.
  • Interesting lampshade.
  • The 200 Degrees motto from the back wall.
  • The counter starts with a retail display by the front window...
  • ... and continues with sandwiches/salad, which would have been here if I'd arrived earlier.
  • More food options are on the wall behind the counter.
  • Next comes the cake, which was still out in abundance.
  • Moving along, we have the grinders: house, guest and decaf espresso...
  • ... and then the all-important Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espreso machine.
  • On the wall behind the counter, the drinks menu, with the guest and filter beans chalked in.
  • I went for the Tanzanian single-origin through the Aeropress. Nice presentation.
  • On my way out, I grabbed a pretty awesome muffin for my train journey home.
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The new 200 Degrees is on Colmore Row, just around the corner from Snow Hill Station and Yorks Espresso Bar. Meanwhile at the other end of the street, and quite literally at the other end of the scale, there’s Jake’s Coffee Box.

200 Degrees is part of the on-going refurbishment of the iconic Grand Hotel, which sits on the northern side of Colmore Row, opposite the Cathedral. The hotel started life in 1879, but closed its doors after a troubled history in 2002. However, it’s being brought back to life, with the ground floor units given over to various shops, 200 Degrees snaffling the one on the right-hand corner, which feels like two units combined into one, the shop-front consisting of twin doors in the centre, separated by a steel column, and each flanked by a single floor-to-ceiling window.

Like the original 200 Degrees in Flying Horse Walk in Nottingham, albeit in a slightly more modern building, this is long and thin. While there’s more natural light, like Nottingham, the lighting can be best described as “subdued” at the back. There are many more similarities: the wooden floors, exposed-brick walls, wooden panelling, bare light bulbs and neon fireplace decorations. There’s even an on-site barista school, although this one is in the basement rather than upstairs.

The layout’s more straightforward though. Down the centre, a row of pillars marches from front to back, with five in all, each fulfilling the important function of holding up the ceiling, which soars high above you. Interspersed amongst the pillars is a row of two- and four-person tables. There’s more seating to the left, starting with a pair of comfortable chairs at a table in the window. This is followed by a long, padded blue bench, with a row of two-person tables. Next comes a pair of brick-arched fireplaces, each with a neon-light decoration. The first has a two-person table, the second, a pair of sumptuous rocking chairs. Finally, there’s a row of three tables across the back wall.

On the right is the large counter, food first, then the till, and finally the coffee, centred on the magnificent Black Eagle espresso machine. A disabled toilet follows, which is opposite the fireplaces, and then, right at the back, steps lead to the basement, housing barista school and toilets.

I was there for a late lunch and nabbed the last roasted broccoli sandwich. I must confess to initial scepticism, but it was really tasty. Excellent crusty bread combined with crunchy, roasted broccoli, while an interesting chutney sweetened things up nicely.

I was in the mood for filter coffee, a Tanzanian single-origin, available through the Aeropress (depending on the bean, 200 Degrees also uses the V60). This was an interesting brew and, if the rest of Tanzania’s coffee is anything like this, I hope to be seeing more of it. It started off as quite a smoky, full-bodied coffee, but as it cooled it developed a really quirky, spicy taste which felt like it was tickling the front of my tongue. An interesting sensation!

Finally, on my way out to catch my train from New Street Station, I picked up a rather awesome muffin. This had a liquid lemon centre and a light, fluffy body, approaching the Foxcroft & Ginger gold standard of muffins in its awesomeness.

You can also see what I made of all the other branches of 200 Degrees that I’ve visited.

http://200degs.com +44 (0) 121 448 2626
Monday 06:30 – 20:00 Roaster 200 Degrees (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 06:30 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Armchairs
Wednesday 06:30 – 20:00 Food Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 06:30 – 20:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 06:30 – 20:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with login)
Sunday 09:30 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain Regional Visits 26th August 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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