Where: 21 Colmore Row Birmingham B3 2BH
Finally, I managed to find a spare table in 200 Degrees Coffee. I’ve walked past this place countless times, dying to see a spare seat for me to run over to and snatch. However, to my dismay, it is always heaving with customers and I cannot blame them one bit! I’ve never popped in for a take-out coffee because I really wanted to absorb all this rustic looking coffee house in one piece. I am so glad I did. Situated on Colmore Row, this is another little gem that looks out into St. Phillips Cathedral’s grounds and is right next to Snow Hill train station.
You walk in and are greeted by the smell of freshly ground coffee, baked cakes and buttery croissants. If that has not already made you leave your house, please do read on. The huge display on your right contains delicious looking cakes that are stacked upon each other so delicately, across their wooden crate style podiums. Laid out like a buffet that probably contains your life times worth of recommended sugar intake. The whole store continues the rustic theme that is boasted from the outside. Almost every part of this coffee house is made of wood. Ironically, in a “Coffee” shade (I checked a colour palette to determine the colour…) Pretty much the only things that aren’t, are the two huge chandeliers that loom down over the cafe, casting a dim, almost candlelit, light over the room. Yet these still follow the rustic theme as they are dark, brushed steel.
Right, lets look a little more at the store layout to help you visualise it. The cafe is long, featuring a blue, comfy, sofa lined wall on the left, a line of two seater tables running through the middle, broken three quarters up by an area of four seater tables, with faux-leather arm chairs. Running along the wall by the four seaters, are some lounge-style chairs, only two sets of two, but these were my absolute favourite, the best seating area I’ve seen in a coffee shop. The lounge chairs were opposite each other with a red, neon, fire shaped light in between. I think I’m just obsessed with fake fire. Real fire is dangerous people. Here, at the back of the cafe you will find a large, open plan stair case. Behind this is your disabled toilet. The whole store is accessible, especially with a disabled toilet (no baby change, yet there are high chairs?) but there is a very small step into the store itself, so bear this in mind if you have mobility difficulties. However, if you go down the stairs, you will find two individual unisex toilets. What grabbed my attention down here is the room to your left, a double door with “Barista” and “School” elegantly painted on each glass panel respectively. I didn’t attend a class here, one, because there wasn’t one on, and two, because I left my job as a Barista, and I only plan on working as a Barista at my own coffee shop (It doesn’t exist yet, sorry to disappoint).
I sat opposite the bar on the sofa lined wall during my visit, calmly sipping my soya latte (Almond milk also available). The latte had a beautiful and artful Tulip poured into the foam on it, almost as if the barista’s passion had been poured into it along with the milk (too cheesy?) At £2.90, the latte is your most expensive “expected” coffee. Varying from £2.20 for a Long Black/Americano, up to £3.20 for a speciality from their Brew Bar (Aeropressed Guatamalan beans, keep calm you coffee geeks, I had to!) The coffee here is a steal at the price they are selling for, considering how amazing they are too! If you’re a tea drinker, you’re looking at £2.50 for any whole leaf tea, or £2.90 for either a Matcha tea, or a Matcha tea latte. Iced drinks, they offer bottles of juices/waters straight from a fridge, or for the caffeine junkies, Cold Brewed Coffee, or Nitro Cold Brew. Perfect for those unrelenting Summer days we’ve had recently. 200 Degrees Coffee freshly prepare all of their food on site, which is awesome and makes the difference between a lot of coffee shops for me! However, I arrived today at around quarter past four, only to find that they’d run out of savoury food for the day. My heart broke as my growling stomach whined a pitiful sound. So I settled for a piece of millionaire’s shortbread. All was forgiven. Biting into it felt as though I had never tasted a real millionaire’s shortbread before, even though that number is probably in the thousands! They do have a sign advertising breakfast from 6:30am, two choices: Granary toast served with a house-made mixed berry jam and butter for £2, or House-made Granola with Chef’s own fruit compote and Greek yoghurt for £3.50. During Autumn and Winter, they also offer a Soup of the Day!
200 Degrees has a couple of quirky extras I wanted to point out to you all, things that really make this place unique. First, what a way to advertise coffee beans! The suitcase matches the same faux-leather found on the seating and has little chalk board style luggage tags, pointing out key notes of each coffee and the price. Next to this, there was literally a house brick with a charity bucket on it. I didn’t quite understand the thought process behind it at first, but it’s a genius idea. It matched the rustic aesthetic and the length of brick wall above the till area, probably cost nothing, and brought your attention to the charity box which then saw the change from my coffee because of it. The store atmosphere is aided by quite a funky, uplifting jazz soundtrack that’s not so loud it distracts from your conversation or work, but fills the cafe at the same time. Outside, there is a chalk board that usually features a coffee related gimmick that always makes me smile. It’s usually something like “Friend 1: I’m Engaged! Friend 2: I’m Pregnant! Me: One more stamp and my next coffee is free!” or “7 days without coffee makes one weak.” Finally, 200 Degrees also has two types of espresso. They have a House Espresso which they have nick-named “Love Affair” and also offer a rotating Guest Espresso, currently “Pure Verde”. I imagine this is a single-origin coffee each rotation to alter from their House Blend.
Overall, 200 Degrees Coffee has been my favourite coffee house to review. It’s even crept into my top five favourites of Birmingham (Not sure how I haven’t thought of writing a post on those!) With it’s warming interior decor, amazing cake display, sublime coffee, friendly baristas and unique and quirky features, not much lets this place down. But for review’s sake, the lack of food at presumably a “peak” time, no baby change facilities and the little step at the front which stops wheelchair users, has tainted 200 Degrees Coffee and lost them an espresso shot. Still an impressive four espresso shots this week though! The amount I should have consumed before attempting to write this!