Britain’s original ‘motor city’ right in the heart of England, Birmingham is an industrial city with many misreported characteristics. It’s true that post-war planning made the experience of living in or visiting the city less appealing than it could have been, but post-Millennium changes to the city centre and the familiar growth of creative and independent businesses into old factories and workshops have changed perception. The formerly brutal, cast-concrete streetscapes have been peeled back where necessary to bring out its rich history and aspirational future.
Parallel to resurgent confidence in the University city and second biggest city in the UK, café and bakery culture is growing at pace. Having recently won another suburban gem in The Early Bird Bakery, Dough Culture asked Nathan Retzer, founder of Quarter Horse Coffee, for his Must-Visit Birmingham cafés and bakeries, where visitors are sure to fulfil their single origin, soy latte, olive sourdough, custard doughnut and warm welcome dreams.
“Kanteen is a place that takes ingredients and sourcing very seriously, including its coffee and as its own bakery too. Their health-conscious menu includes options on their own sourdough toast and it’s all served in a new, airy and light-filled café restaurant space.”
Gibb Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4AA
“Faculty Coffee is a specialist and very small coffee spot right in the middle of Birmingham city centre. It’s pretty well maxed out when 15 people are all in there at one time, but it’s definitely worth visiting to try and find a spot. It’s twinned with its bakery, Sixteen, who supply all of Faculty’s pastries and cakes.”
14 Piccadilly Arcade, Birmingham B2 4HD
“You have to travel just a little further out of the city to get hold of it, but Loaf bakes easily the best bread in Birmingham, hands down. It’s not only a bakery, but also a bakery school and operates as a cooperative too. Head along on Saturdays for weekend-only special loaves.”
1421 Pershore Rd, Birmingham B30 2JL
Bore Street Bakery
“OK, this is a little further out again, but worth striking out for. In nearby Lichfield, Bore Street Bakery is a very bread-focused bakery with a healthy ethos of baking enough to satisfy local demand, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. If it means that they’re done and can go home by lunchtime, then so be it. You can pick up a filter coffee with your loaf and get your weekend off to a great start. They have their shop, but also do a few pop-ups from time-to-time.”
19 Bore St, Lichfield WS13 6LZ
Quarter Horse Coffee
“This is us! We supply single origin coffees, roast right on site and have a café where we have some fresh croissants, buns cakes and sandwiches and toast made with bread baked by Jam Vs. Custard. As the name suggests, they’re pretty good at doughnuts and we’ve been working with them on pop-up events around their market appearances and wholesale bakes. We always have their sourdough in and keep stocks of cinnamon and cardamom buns on the weekends.”
88-90 Bristol Street, Birmingham B5 7AH