Coffee & Beans
The Newest Coffee Shop on Winson Green's Block
Winson Green, West Birmingham
Your local coffee shop needs to be accessible, cheap, tasty and welcoming; four things the coffee & beans has in spades.
Picture the scene of your favourite or most despised romantic comedy; After days, weeks or even months of hard graft and strange flirting attempts which lead to nowhere, the lead and her crush finally lock lips and a night of intense, unforgettable passion ensues.
The sun then rises on their first day together and she finds that her lover was only one fir the night as he's left without so much as a note or a kiss on the forehead goodbye.
Queue the next thirty seconds of pillow smashing and screaming as she realises that her dreams of a happily ever after would never get past first the 8 hours of the relationship.
But what's that? The front door (which wasn't locked for some reason) suddenly flies open and there he is, the guy from the night before and he's holding something he never left with; nine cups of coffee, some pastry and an innocent smile.
Truth is, this scene relies on the one thing you can't see; the local coffee shop and if you are a resident of Winson Green, this is your first opportunity at re-creating this rom-com staple because there's never been a local coffee cafe until now.
So if you want to re-create such a scene and kick the day off on a foot better than the typical morning after night before, what should you expect?Well like I said in the intro, Coffee and Beans is welcoming and just because there is no local coffee chain competition, it doesn't mean C&B drops the ball.
Instead it plays the role of the modest coffee shop aptly whilst including creature comforts that would give any potential competition a bit of a headache, such as a comfy seating area with a large screen television and in-house, freshly made food items and happy faces behind the till.
The menu has a 'typically Birmingham" vibe too, with dishes taking inspiration from the large Asian community in the city- which is a wise move. Early crowd favourites and best sellers include a Chicken Tikka 'pizza baguette', Chicken Tikka panini and a Chicken Tandoori panini. Meanwhile, more traditional/basic b- fillings such as the chicken, tuna salad and egg mayonnaise sell out by lunch time, but are implied to be made in smaller batches.
Regardless of your preferences, everything here is cheap and cheerful, with the most expensive thing on the menu at Coffee & Beans being the 'Breakfast Deal' priced at £4.50. Honestly, I consider this a steal, filling you up with two Halal sausages, two hash browns, two eggs, four turkey rashers, baked beans and toast for less than £5.
The Coffee, an item you assume this quaint store prides itself on is ~decent~.Priced exceptionally fairly, even the biggest cup of your favourite Mocha Frappe is only £3.35. This fair pricing means you shouldn't be expecting cups of Peru's finest, but since it's not £1 coffee, it's also not instant trash in a styrofoam cup either.
A quick taste test reveals pleasant results. The coffee doesn't coat your tongue or make you do that random suck-in-your-cheeks-and-click-your-tongue thing a cup of McDonalds' black stuff does and it's not as after-tasty bitter as Costa's controversial new blend.
On the other side of this coffee coin, the sweetness is not exaggerated like the beans have been washed in chemicals like a cup from Starbucks- hitting this sweet spot between a home percolated brew and a barista blend. It's better than what you'll probably be making at home, but only just.
However, there is certainly an emphasis on coffee rather than tea here, so if your beau is a herbalist rather than a jitter juicer, there's only 'Tea' and 'Green Tea' on offer and no wild variety of milks either.
Another sad but not detrimental side note to make is that whilst the drinks and sandwiches are for you to take away, forget about plans to bring back some grub for your main squeeze as the breakfasts, jacket potatoes and waffles aren't able to be taken away.
Now lastly we have to talk about accessibility.
Now like I said in the beginning, the Coffee & Beans is easy to get to. It's situated on a main road and occupies the building that was once a pub only a handful of months ago. There are two busses that you can get, the 11c and 40x, both of which stop merely meters outside the front door but this doesn't really matter as you will probably walk here rather than commute in.
The thing is, is that C&B is situated on Winson Green Road... and is directly across the road from the entrance of HMP Birmingham.Now if you're a resident, this isn't an issue. The prison has been around far longer than you probably have and is something you forget exists unless you're giving directions.
The issue is, is that coupled with James Turner Street being less than a minutes walk away, if you're worried about what your dates view of the area is, save the joint visitations (pun intended) till the relationship has hit a more comfortable stage.
Overall, Coffee & Beans is another place which yields no objections. Yes, the location might not be sexy and the food may not blow your mind, but it's well thought out and will scratch your itch for a coffee and a bite to eat because it does everything it is supposed to do.
So if you find yourself day-chilling with your better half and you both want to do something cheap and local, the Coffee and Bean is a great shout, one that you should listen to.
- Great pricing. You can feed two people with less than £20 and come home with change.
- +Helps to fill the food size hole Winson Green has with some class.
- Freshly made Deserts are always a plus.
- Does everything you expect a local coffee shop to do and without the gimmicks.
- Asian influenced dishes make the menu feel right at home.
- As it's inside an old pub, the space available is excellent so you don't feel as if you are eavesdropping on every conversation.
- It's a comfy and welcoming place to be with great seating and a television which helps to pass the time.
- Easy to access no matter your mode of transport.
- Menu isn't too experimental and is tactfully done.
- Unsexy location is slightly off-putting. (But Holloway Prison is in Camden, a borough that's synonymous with cool so...)
- Not the best tea selection.
- Familiar flavours sell out early, so you may have to get there when it opens for your best chance at getting the full variety they offer.
- If you are accustomed to major coffee chain flavours, you may need a second to readjust your pallet. (But that's your fault really, not Coffee and Beans.)