I must confess that for many years, Lichfield was just a place name that I would have struggled to place on a map. It took more shape as Lichfield Trent Valley, a station that I sometimes passed through on my way to/from my parents in North Wales, which at least allowed me some idea where it was. However, it wasn’t until Melbourne in Lichfield burst onto my twitter feed a year ago that I really became aware of it.
Melbourne in Lichfield, it turns out, was a small coffee kiosk in an alley, Bolt Court, in the centre of this rather lovely West Midlands cathedral city. By the time I visited, a year after it opened, Melbourne in Lichfield had outgrown its humble origins and opened a second branch, a stone’s throw away on the broad, pedestrianised Bird Street. In contrast to the kiosk (which has since closed), this is a full-blown coffee shop, offering several, albeit small, rooms of seating.
There’s coffee from Union Hand-roasted and a regularly-changing guest roaster, with a house espresso, Maraba from Rwandan, plus a guest espresso and various options on pour-over through the V60. If you’re hungry, there are toasties, bagels and an impressive array of cakes.
February 2019: Melbourne in Lichfield now roasts its own coffee, although Union still makes regular appearances as the guest roaster.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Melbourne in Lichfield gets its name from owner, Debs, a bubbly, welcoming Australian (from Melbourne, naturally) who, as Australians seem to do, opened her own coffee shop, having despaired at ever finding anything to her high standards. With 20 years in the industry back in Australia, those standards are pretty high, by the way.
In so doing, she’s introduced Lichfield to speciality coffee and successfully so, having outgrown the original kiosk on Bolt Court in under a year. The shop on Bird Street, which opened in April, is actually two shops in one, each with its own recessed door and adjacent picture window, although the door on the right isn’t used. Inside, they are joined by a single, open doorway in the party wall. The space on the left, where you enter, is largely given over to the L-shaped counter, which occupies the rear half, espresso machine to the fore. To order, sidle down the right-hand side, where the cakes wait to tempt you by the till.
You can sit in this half if you like, at a broad window-seat to the left of the door, strewn with cushions, or perched on one of three tall stools at the counter. Here you can admire the espresso machine, a bright yellow Conti Monte Carlo, with transparent back panel, allowing you to observe its workings.
For more seating, head into the right-hand part, which is a series of more intimate spaces. The first, at the front, has another window seat, a large, round, four-person table in the centre, a solitary armchair and a couple of other small tables. Another open doorway in the back wall leads to more seating. There are alcoves to left and right, each seating four, although the left-hand one is larger. Meanwhile, right at the back is the final seating, an armchair gloriously located in the corner, smaller chairs grouped around it.
Melbourne in Lichfield uses Union Hand-roasted as the house-roaster, with a Rwandan single-origin, Maraba, as the house espresso. This is joined by a guest, which can be from Union or a guest roaster, which was the case when I was there, Girls Who Grind Coffee doing the honours with a Nicaraguan single-origin (Debs doesn’t serve blends). This changes every couple of weeks, while the pour-over changes even more frequently. There’s a selection from Union, plus whatever guest roasters Debs has in, which can be from anywhere in the world. When it’s gone, it’s gone, so be quick!
I started with a cheddar and red pepper toasty for lunch, which, I must confess, I rather devoured while waiting for my pour-over to be made. In a sign of how hungry I was, I didn’t really stop to take notes. I did slow down for my coffee, however, a Peruvian single-origin (Marin) again from Union, that Debs was running through the V60 for the first time (I think it was “let’s experiment on the coffee blogger” day).
Served in an upcycled carafe with a cup on the side, this turned out to be a very worthwhile experiment, since the Marin was very drinkable, with a full body and lots of flavour. I followed this with a couple of slices of the toasted fruit bread, which were gorgeous, and, finally, I had the house espresso in a flat white, which was the best of the lot. I wish I’d had time to sample it as an espresso since it was gorgeous in milk, really rich and smooth, with lovely caramel notes. Sadly, with a train to catch, I had to go, but it was a heavenly send off.
|32-34 BIRD STREET • LICHFIELD • WS13 6LA|
|Monday||07:30 – 16:00||Roaster||Melbourne in Lichfield + Union (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Armchairs, Counter, Window-seat; Benches (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 16:00||Food||Toasties, Bagels, Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 16:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 16:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 14:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||30th May 2018|
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