If you know me, you’ll know I love my coffee – okay, you’ll know I love the things that accompany coffee: cake, biscuits, toast and jam, ideally all located somewhere that’s cosy and cool with friendly staff who aren't coffee snobs. Bloom, in Kings Heath, Birmingham is exactly that, and then some.
It’s early days as I’ve only been to Bloom once, but I think this seven-month-old cafe/restaurant owned by barista Alasdair Houston and chef Tim Paine, deserves a dedicated blog. At one point, while we were travelling around New York, we were checking out three coffee shops in one day, often ordering at least three drinks at a time. Not just for the photo opportunity, but because the man is training to be a barista and has become well, just a little bit nerdy about coffee. Since we’ve been back home in the UK, we pretty much know our fave places for coffee in London, but when it comes to the Midlands we’d snottily resigned ourselves to the belief that no-one in Brum could do good coffee. When I say good, I’m not just referring to the coffee itself; as I don’t drink dairy, it’s tough to find a café that cares enough to see what coffee tastes like with anything other than soya (vile as far as I was concerned) or regular dairy. Lately I've been thankful that more and more cafes are offering us a wider choice of options: oat milk (nice and creamy and not porridge-y at all), coconut (yuk) or almond milk (decent).
Daniel was told that Bloom was probably the best place to have coffee in Birmingham, by a 100 percent confirmed coffee nerd, so we thought we’d grab brunch there and take some pix too. We visited on a Sunday morning, about 15 minutes early, to take some outside shots. That didn’t last long because it was FREEZING, but luckily co-owner Alasdair, let us in five minutes before the 10am opening time. He could have easily left us there, so Bloom was already scoring well as far as we were concerned.
Click on the pix above to see the coconut porridge!
On entering, Bloom is super clean without that cold, clinical feeling. The walls are white, the tables are made from a pale but warm wood and there are some lovely fresh plants dotted around. The counter is beautifully simple and I love how they present their cakes, almost as if they’re rare butterflies, captured in a viewing box.
Alasdair let us know that the kitchen opened at 1030am so we ordered some drinks and checked out the menu. We pretty much knew that we had to try the Coconut Porridge, decorated with charred pineapple, mango curd, banana bread crumbs and thin slivers of plantain. We also picked the platter of pikelets, drop scones and oat bannock, served with a couple of preserves and maple spiced butter, as well as the salt cod and cauliflower cheese fritters. Salt cod is a West Indian staple, so we were really intrigued to see what Bloom would do with it.
Everything was going well until I found out that they only offered soya milk. For me, soya and coffee just don’t go – every time I have tried it, it is a bitter, sad affair. But this time, not only was the coffee edible (drink-able?) – it was delicious.
To be honest, the coffee was the last thing on my mind once the food arrived. The coconut porridge was lovely – that mango curd should be bottled and sold. We loved everything about it, especially how the fresh grilled pineapple complemented the otherwise hearty bowl of oats. The pikelets platter was amazingly simple, but so tasty, and we had fun combining the preserves and trying the, again, sell-able maple spiced butter. We couldn’t help but comment on the more-ish salt cod and caulilflower cheese fritters – there were FIVE on the plate. Usually you’d expect two, or three max, and they’re definitely not tiny. I’m definitely not complaining; it’s nice to see someone be so generous, especially as brunch is often a meal that’s shared.
All in all, I’m so happy we found Bloom – Birmingham is aching for independent cafes that deliver in all areas and even though I’m definitely one of those people who likes to work out of cafes, I loved the fact that there were zero laptops around. Whether it’s the same on a weekday, I’ll have to let you know, soon.
Do you live in Birmingham? If so, where’s your favourite place to go for coffee?
Bloom, 32 Poplar Road, Kings Heath, B14 7AD