Java Lounge, Colmore Row

My flat white, served in a classic black cup at Java Lounge on Colmore Row, Birmingham.Java Lounge is a name with history when it comes to coffee in Birmingham, first opening in Moseley in 2005. For a long time, it was just a local institution, but in 2015, the second Java Lounge opened, right in the heart of the city on Colmore Row. Now there are four branches and a rebrand in the offing (with a name change to Java Roastery to reflect its new focus). I first became aware of Java Lounge when I met with Akram, the owner, at last year’s Birmingham Coffee Festival, catching up with Akram and the team at this year’s festival. It was, I thought, high time I paid Java Lounge a visit.

The Colmore Row branch occupies a beautiful, high-ceilinged space with a main room at the front with more seating in a smaller room at the back. Alternatively, you can sit outside where there’s a small row of tables on the relatively quiet street. The coffee is all roasted in-house with a pair of seasonal espresso blends and a single-origin on pour-over through the V60 (for one) and Chemex (for two). If you’re hungry, there are breakfast and lunch menus, plus a selection of sandwiches and cakes.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Java Lounge on Colmore Row, Birmingham.
  • The view head on. It really is a lovely building.
  • If you want to sit outside, there are three tables in a row by the windows.
  • On the other hand, if you want to head inside, then the entrance is on the right...
  • ... complete with these wonderful metal doors. Let's go in, shall we?
  • Stepping inside, there's a long, padded bench running along the right-hand wall.
  • Opposite that is a short row of three one/two-person booths...
  • ... and beyond that, against the left-hand wall, is the counter.
  • A view, from the back, of the three booths in the middle , with the counter beyond...
  • ... and beyond that, right at the front, is the another row of three low booths.
  • One of the three booths at the front, each of which is slightly raised off ground level.
  • Another view of the three middle booths...
  • ... and here looking the other way, towards the back.
  • The rear most of the three booths in detail. The flowers are a nice touch.
  • There are more flowers on the tables on the right-hand side.
  • There are five tables in all on this side.
  • However, that's not all. Through a wide opening in the back wall, there's more seating.
  • The rear room has it's own padded benches, one on each of the right-hand...
  • ... and left-hand walls, each with five narrow two-person tables. Finally, at the back...
  • ... is a neat, cruved alcove with another padded bench and semi-circular table.
  • The view of the front seating area, as seen from the back room.
  • One of the many things I liked about the Java Lounge is the information on the walls.
  • This shows the history of coffee from Ethiopia to the modern day (the plot of my book!).
  • This, meanwhile, is the journney of your coffee bean from harvest to cup.
  • And finally, some infographics on different brewing types (and caffeine).
  • It pays to look up in Java Lounge. Here's the magnificent skylight from the back room.
  • In the main room, meanwhile, there's a magnificent lighting rig hanging from the ceiling.
  • It really is very impressive!
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot (of one of the main lights).
  • Last one.
  • Well, last one of the main lights. These bulbs in wire cages are in all the booths.
  • This really is the last one, honest.
  • So, to business. The counter is on the left-hand side, a dedicated space in front of it.
  • There's plenty of information (and a carefully concealed till next to the grinders).
  • The main menus, meanwhile, are on the wall behind/above the counter...
  • ... although there's also a breakfast menu on the counter itself.
  • There's also a copious selection of cakes on the counter.
  • The espresso machine is off to the right, while pour-over is tucked away on the left.
  • On my first visit, I had a Honduran single-origin V60, served in a glass...
  • ... which I paired with a raspberry bakewell slice.
  • On my return, I kept things simple, optimg for a flat white...
  • ... which is where I'll leave you, admiring the latte art.
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Java Lounge occupies a beautiful old building at the western end of Colmore Row, opposite where Jake’s Coffee Box once stood. Three small, round tables stand on the pavement to the left, while on the right, an arched entrance has two stone steps leading up past a pair of gorgeous metal doors into the large, almost cube-shaped interior (a ramp is available on request).

This is one coffee shop where looking up is rewarded. There are four aches high up on the left- and right-hand walls, plus two rows of five narrow, tall windows at the front. Dark wooden floorboards, counter and furniture, coupled with sumptuous sofas benches, add to a relaxed, upmarket atmosphere, a million miles from the stereotypical hipster hangout with its chipboard and unpainted walls. While there’s plenty of natural light, an awesome lighting rig hangs from ceiling, with nine huge, conical metal lamps and four shallower ones over the counter. There’s an even better lighting rig hanging from the ceiling in the alcove to the rear.

The main room, at the front, houses the counter and much of the seating. Three booth-like structures run the full width of the Java Lounge in the windows left of the door. These have high tables and back-to-back padded sofa benches, all slightly raised above ground level. Beyond this, the counter occupies the left-hand side, a busy affair with cakes and till to the front, espresso machine and grinders at the back.

There’s a smaller set of three booth-like structures in the middle, backs to the counter, creating a corridor-like space where you can order. These are two-person affairs, the front and back booths having seats facing each other over a single table, while the middle one is slightly thinner and, as a result, is a single-seater, its back to the counter. Finally, a long, padded bench runs the length of the right-hand wall under a lovely mural explaining the origins of coffee (effectively a condensed version of the story I tell in my book, The Philosophy of Coffee). This has five square, two-person tables, each with a chair on the opposite side.

A wide, low opening on the right in the back wall leads to a smaller, seating area about half the width of the front. Padded bench seats run along both walls, each with five long, thin two-person tables, while at the back a shallow, curved alcove has room for four people at a single table.

In terms of what it offers, Java Lounge is a halfway house. While there’s speciality coffee, there are many drinks of the sort you’d expect in a high street chain, including milkshakes and plenty of syrups, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There are two seasonal house espresso blends, Rilio and Siena, plus a single-origin pour-over.

I actually visited twice, once in 2018, when I didn’t have time to get any photographs, and again last week, when I did. On my first visit, I went for a pour-over, trying the Honduran single-origin through the V60, a rich, full-bodied coffee which mellowed as it cooled, developing a real sweetness along the way. I paired this with an excellent raspberry Bakewell slice, with a solid (in a good way) base of cake, a hint of almond flavour and lots of raspberry jam.

On my return, I ordered a flat white. I didn’t specify the blend, but I’m guessing from the rich, dark taste that it was the Rilio, rather than the Siena, which was described as fruity and sweet. Either way, it went down very well as my first coffee of the day.

124 COLMORE ROW • BIRMINGHAM • B3 3SD
https://javaroastery.co.uk
Monday 07:30 – 20:00 Roaster Java Roastery (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 20:00 Seating Tables, Sofas,
Wednesday 07:30 – 20:00 Food Sandwiches, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 20:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 20:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 20th August 2018, 22nd July 2019

If you liked this Coffee Spot, then check out the rest of Birmingham’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Birmingham.


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