Where: 64 New Street, Birmingham, B2 4DU
So, I thought for my first review, I’d try somewhere a little quirky looking. At first, the hanging bauble-esque lighting in the front windows grabbed my attention. When you’re inside, they really give the impression of a starry sky as these are scattered all the way down this narrow little gem – although those colourful bar stools are a little garish! This place also boasts outdoor seating for the coming summer months, or the smokers amongst us!
The atmosphere in this coffee house is really chill, even on a busy Saturday afternoon. The place was packed with university students quietly humming along with their laptops, working tirelessly yet looking extremely comfortable in the high-backed sofas and large padded lounge chairs. A few couples quietly natter away at the two person tables that line the edges of the large seating area at the back of the cafe. What let me down is, I’m a sucker for some music in a coffee house, doesn’t have to be loud, or even good. Just some light background noise that isn’t eight different conversations of the people around you. Second Cup, get some speakers!
Now, the aesthetics of this shop really got me going! Once you’re past the bar area of this store, the place really opens up. In the corner you have two soft, high-backed, purple sofas facing each other. These are placed in front of a fire-effect heater (Who isn’t guilty of watching a crackling fire video on youtube whilst catching up with pals?) which is built into a towering wall of sawn tree trunks. The rest of this room is basically made up of two person tables lining each wall, with the previously mentioned large padded lounge chairs. These walls are the aesthetic icing on the cake for me! One is a slightly worn red brick wall, decorated with, what some people would say, too many white ornate picture frames. All empty. The parallel wall is cream in colour but covered in just as many rather huge, kitsch clocks, none of which show the correct time. I love this purely because it’s metaphorical of getting lost in time while catching up with friends, or reading through your favourite book! Not only that but there is even a bookcase that you can donate books to, it’s already filled with some great reads and even some best sellers. (Harry Potter fans will be delighted.)
If you’re looking for a coffee house, for coffee, this is the place! They offer seven different coffee beans to be enjoyed in various ways (Decaf makes it 8, but what is the point? No, really?) The coffee beans range from their “Colombia San Agustin” which is a Light roast, through their Paradiso, Cuzco and other Medium roasts, leaving you with the Dark roasts of Sumatra Mandheling and Paradiso Dark. I enjoyed a Soya Latte with the Paradiso espresso. The coffee is sublime, rich in aroma, flavour and spice. My only issue was the latte was a little foamy, but I’m a little too particular when it comes to barista craft (The bane of being a Barista for 3 years!) Looking at the size of the food display cases, and the food inside them, I got myself super excited for a quality lunch. Upon closer inspection, the choice of food is not great. Vegans beware, you’ll be greeted with the usual “Super Greens Salad”. Essentially a bowl of Kale, cucumber and beans. Veggies, you’re a little better off. They have around 4 different cheese and salad sandwiches/paninis/wraps and an egg and cress sandwich. If you have no dietary restrictions, huge array of choice! Luckily I’d brought my own fruity lunch which they were cool for me to eat. Not much allergen information on show, the Barista seemed pretty knowledgable about the cakes though!
Coming to Second Cup for lunch, isn’t going to break the bank. If you’ve had lunch at a coffee house in town before, you’ll recognise the prices. Coffee you’re looking at £1.80 for filter, £2.50+ for customisable lattes/cappuccinos. Looking at food though, the sandwich range stretches from £2.99 for your basic cheese salad, up to £4.99 for a toasted bacon and cheese panini. Salad pots, £5.49. While these prices are “fine” and “expected”, I feel you can get more for your money in almost any other coffee house as the packaging looks pretty cheap and the food itself, looks very small and unfulfilling.
I’ll wrap this up with a positive note though, Second Cup know how to make an accessible store. The store front has a small disabled access ramp straight up to the front door, the store is long and narrow which could be tricky for a wheelchair to manoeuvre if the store is busy, but fear not, the store then opens up and there is ample space for anyone and everyone. At the back of the store is a unisex toilet, along with a disabled toilet (No baby change unfortunately mommies!)
Overall, Second Cup Coffee Company is great if you’re in town, your usual coffee house is too busy and you need decent priced coffee, a relaxed atmosphere and free wifi, then this is the place for you!
I’m going to give Second Cup a favourable 3/5 Espresso Shots!