Ah, Birmingham. I grew up there you know? Well, I didn’t - I actually grew up in Worcestershire. However, it’s a helluva lot more easier to say I’m from Birmingham where people actually know is a place (although are hilariously still unsure of its whereabouts!) rather than saying i’m from a place which receives the response of ‘oh, like the sauce’?
Birmingham was home to the first ever coffee shop I worked in, and I look back fondly at my 16 year old self who thought they were super grown up working in a proper job in a city. I learned so much about coffee and tea at the place (although I never actually touched the espresso machine there..), and you can safely say that Birmingham was the catalyst of my true love and passion for coffee.
Therefore, when I found out that the city would be hosting their very own (and very first!) coffee festival, I knew I had to go. I was lucky enough to talk to one of the hosts, Tom, who landed me press tickets - and for that I am forever thankful for. However at £6 advance and £8 on the door, this was definitely one of the more affordable coffee festivals in England (i’m totally looking at you, London Coffee Festival).
The festival was located in the ever-so-popular and trendy ‘Custard Factory’, where a large number of events take place. A prime location for the festival, the Custard Factory reflects an urban and hip vibe, but still with a lack of unnecessary glamour - much like Shoreditch is to London. Therefore, it seems like the perfect place to host a coffee festival - nothing shabby, but nothing over the top and overly glamorous. After all, coffee is messy!
Upon arrival, you can see that the festival is in its early years. This isn’t a bad thing, but I have a feeling that if the festival continues as a recurrent affair, there may be more space dedicated to both stalls and recreational and relaxing areas. Much like the London Coffee Festival, the place was packed to the brim with people, and I did find it pretty difficult to navigate around.
Live music was playing by a select group of (i’m guessing local) artists, and I was happy to hear that proceeds from donations would be given to a charity (although sadly I cannot remember the details of this). Alongside this, the room was decorated similarly to the London festival, with fairy lights strung everywhere and white walls to allow the coffee to take centre stage.
A lovely chat over at the Coffee Collective and Outpost Coffee were probably my favourite parts of the event, whereby I even exchanged details with both men to talk further. If anything does happen - don’t worry, I will keep you guys posted!
To sum the experience up, the Birmingham Coffee Festival was (and I feel bad for saying this) much better than what I first imagined. Full to the brim with new roasters in areas I hadn’t even considered to be part of the English coffee scene just yet, there was definitely a greater amount of freebies exchanged than in London (where the last time I went I practically had to buy every single coffee there)! The items on offer to purchase were great value, and I picked up a wonderful box-full of sample beans from the biggest roasters at the festival. I’ve yet to even open the box but I definitely know I’ll be getting stuck into it shortly.
On that note, I will end, but with one more thing to say. Birmingham’s a wonderful city, and if there is ever a greater excuse needed to visit, this coffee festival would definitely be it. I will be extremely upset if this does not become an annual event, as I look forward to many years ahead where we can see what is predominantly a southern coffee industry move further northwards and conquer the rest of England.
I hope you lovelies have a wonderful day - and I totally think it’s time for everyone to put the kettle on.