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Six Eight Kafe's Coffee Blog

We are a new independent coffee shop open in the centre of Birmingham, using cutting edge technology and award winning roasters.

Open Mon-Fri, 7:30-18:00
Sat, 10-5:30
Sun, 10:30-4:30

Six Eight Kafé
Address: 6/8 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5HG
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La Ilusion - guest espresso

On the 30th June and 2nd July we had the guest espresso of El Salvador’s La Ilusion in our hopper - as you may have read before, it was used by the World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendez as his signature espresso in his winning performance.

It was delicious and many came to sample its delights. Here are a few shots from the days. Enjoy.

In the hopper.

A shot turns into…

…a Flat White.

Gary from Anderson & Hill enjoys.

Dan and Rich from Radio 4’s Food Programme are the last to enjoy the shots.

2 kilos and filled up cards. Done.

2011 World Barista Champion Coffee as our Guest Espresso

Has Bean roaster Steve Leighton (red t-shirt) and 2011 World Barista Champion Alejandro Mendes to his left with the Viva Espresso (El Salvador) team

My word, do we have a treat for you.

As discussed in a previous postAlejandro Mendez from El Salvador won the 2011 World Barista Championship using beans roasted by our espresso blend provider, Has Bean.

Well we have been lucky enough to get our hands on a couple of bags of the very same beans used by the champion coffee maker, named Finca La Ilusion from El Salvador.

We will be serving this as a guest espresso on Thursday 30th June and Saturday 2nd July on a limited run. We have a certain amount to use on each day, so get in there fast; once it runs out - it’s gone!

This beautiful coffee will be a shop exclusive and your chance to sip on an espresso recommended by the best in the world.

Alejandro Mendez (middle) after winning the 2011 World Barista Championship

Our Espresso Blend - Jailbreak Mark 3

Always looking to refine their blends and adapting due to the availability of coffee, Has Bean has recently changed the espresso blend we use, known by our coffee loving regulars as Jailbreak.

Since we get a lot of questions about our blend, I thought I would bring across the latest write up of the Mark 3 version of Jailbreak that is currently in our grinder.


Has Bean Premium Blend became so important to Has Bean, but we didn’t like the name. It infers that everything else was not premium, and of course it is.
So I decided it was time for a revamp to make all the blends a little more fun. So now we have ‘Jailbreak’ (a replacement for the Premium and Has Bean Espresso Blends). This is our house blend that we think is perfect for everyone from the home user right through to the best commercial espresso machines. There is a reason for the name, and lots of people I am sure will get it. It has lots to do with how I got into coffee. 
For me a roaster’s espresso blend for home users should be:

1. Good in other brew methods as well as in espresso. This saves customers from needing to have two different blends to hand which is particularly useful for those that do not get through them too quickly.
2. Good in a cheaper home machine as well as a top of the range commercial machine.
3. Good across a range of temperatures and extraction times; it should be forgiving.
4. Just totally tasty.
This blend does all that and more.
We are very proud of what we do here at Has Bean Coffee. Some roasters will pretend that there is a dark art in blending. We think that good ingredients make a good blend when you think about what you want to achieve. We also don’t keep secrets, our blend contains 100% great quality coffee, from some of the best single estates in the world and we are happy to tell you all about them. Jailbreak consists of:

(40%) Bolivian Laoyza

(30%), Brazil Fazenda Sao Judas

(30%), Peru Café Verde Cusco Organic

These are premium coffees that on their own are amazing single origin coffees, but as a blend bring sweetness, acidity, body and all around deliciousness.

Taken from the Has Bean website.

The UK Brewers Cup was held for the first time this part Saturday at Prufrock.

The competition focused specifically on the 20 baristas’ ability to use filtered methods of brewing, all using the same coffee in the round and the 6 finalists using their own blend.

The overall winner was 2007 World Barista Champion, and head of Square Mile Coffee, James Hoffman who will be going Maastricht, Holland later this month representing the UK.

For more information on the events in London, check out James Hoffman’s blog.

Best of luck to the Hoff.

Laynes Espresso Launch Party - plus visits to Opposite Cafe & North Tea Power

A long time ago at 6/8, when we barely had anything on the walls and our food range consisted of about two sandwiches; we were visited by two friendly northerners. In Birmingham after doing some freelance barista work at the ICC, it turned out these fellas were Carl Fleischer and Dave Olejnik who worked at the renowned Leeds coffee shop Opposite Cafe.

Well these two noble gentlemen have now moved on to stand on their own two feet (or four) with Laynes Espresso, a beautiful coffee room bang in the centre of Leeds near the train station.

We are 6/8 were honoured to be invited up to their launch party, meeting friends, sampling coffee, cheeses and some beautiful on tap beer. The place has a simple and elegant interior and the focus with everything is on quality - even their free water had mint leaves in it. The food matches the standard of the top notch coffee - supplied by London’s premier roasters Square Mile. The espresso they used is a single origin Yirgacheffe [for the love of god someone please tell me if I am wrong, I had already had a few beers by the time I was talking coffee] which was beautifully sweet, but for me really came into its own when with milk to create a rich caramel taste.

They also offered Square Mile’s Decaf Espresso which, while I like most I am a complete snob to anything labelled decaf, was excited to try as Dave had promised me it was a goodun - and he wasn’t lying. It had a lot of body and an after taste of liquorish, which reminded me of barbecue sauce at first (again, I was already a little ‘socially lubricated’ by this point). Well worth a try.  

Their setup includes an Anfim & Mazzer grinders as well as Synesso Cyncra. Top kit, I think you’ll agree. As well as a stylishly made brew bar shaped to fit a few V60s.

So if you do end up that side of the Pennines then make sure you give these guys a shout. We hope to visit them again soon or even have them down at our place. You’ll no doubt be hearing a lot of buzz about these guys soon.

Thanks again to Carl and Dave for the invited and a great night.

Follow Laynes Espresso on Twitter

Opposite Cafe, Leeds

Known for its juxtaposing two faces of its duo of branches as much as its excellent coffee, the Opposite Cafe has its student shop outside the university and, what I was told, ‘adult’ location in the centre of Leeds’ shopping Victoria district.

Although I consider myself ‘adult’ in the most forgiving definition possible, I made my way to the Victoria location (mainly because it was closer and the university branch had already closed) to be greeted by a small kiosk in the centre of a shopping arcade.

Here I was served by Ollie, who instantly picked up on my coffee snobbery when I started poking my nose about the filter brews. I was impressed from the start, from what was such as small space, they had a two group Synesso serving up excellent Square Mile Spring Espresso and a wide range of Has Bean, Square Mile and Union brews.  I opted for an espresso and a Square Mile Papua New Guinea filter. 

Both were prepared and extracted perfectly, all while Ollie had to deal with a constant torrent of customers and myself pretending to know what I was talking about in coffee discussions. It was great to see a place offer coffee of such as high standard in an otherwise saturated commercial location and also never dipping in quality or customer service. Ollie was obviously well trained, knowledgeable and had a passion for the job - all of which was clearly picked up by new and regular customers.

A fantastic little place and a real credit to how good coffee can be accepted and moved into more affluent areas to directly compete with chain coffee stores.

Follow Opposite Cafe on Twitter

North Tea Power - a brief aside

North Tea Power, who I have previously discussed recently became the proud owners of a shiny new La Marzocco FB/80. I was in town so took the chance to drop by and see it in action. It is a beaut.

In case you haven’t guessed, I really dig North Tea Power; they have a great atmosphere, top notch drinks and the friendliest staff. While the regular dynamic duo of Wayne and Jane were away on holiday, I was served some delicious coffees and teas (including a ‘what would your last drink be?’ tea latte); and in return for me paying for these drinks, the talented Hayley and Rhi allowed me to perch at the end of the bar and annoy them for a while.

My flattie and flappy/FJ (copyright, Rhi)

So… yeah, check out NTP if you’re in Manchester, want some great brews and see a sparkly new espresso machine…I also think maybe Wayne & Jane should go on holiday more often.

Follow North Tea Power on Twitter

Espresso Games: St. Ali Espresso Blend

Some know St. Ali as the Saint of Coffee, others will recognise it as a coffee shop renowned for being one of the best shop/roasteries in the world. Located in South Melbourne, Australia; they have become known for their superb quality of service and ever changing house espressos. 

Well lucky for us Brits then St. Ali has brought the party over here. They have recently opened a location in After a visit to the new and superb St. Ali coffee shop in London on Clerkenwell Road. The shop is beautifully designed with a huge central bar, equipped with a Slayer espresso machine, Uber boiler and all the brewing treats you could possibly imagine. Attach onto that an open roastery on the shop floor and top quality food to match the excellent coffee.

I was lucky enough to have a chat and tour of the shop with Head of Coffee, Tim Williams. After showing me the upstairs espresso bar, which boasted an all to familiar (for you 6/8 fans) Synesso Cyncra three group, he took me around the roasting area and I managed to accquire a kilo of their latest espresso blend forthe shop.

I smuggled it out of London, got it safely back in to the shop in Birmingham and got the ‘Tank’ grinder to unleash it on curious patrons of 6/8.

As you can read above, this is a mix of Brazilian and Guatemalan. The espresso came out extremely bright, not too sweet, but certainly a slap in the face as soon as it touched the tounge. This then gave away to a rich body; certainly a fun and tasty espresso - kind of wish I tried with a longer pre-infusion to see what affect it had, especially on the brightness.

A beautiful St. Ali espresso.

From bag, to grinder, to tamper, to machine, to shot.

The final latte of the day.

After burning through many shots (and varying degrees of annoyance with a temperamental grinder) both Greg and I were well and truly caffeinated to the brim. We had tried the espresso in the differen’t milks drinks and it certainly shone through in our 5oz Flat Whites and 7oz double shot Lattes. It was smooth and chocolately (well noticed by Greg that it tasted like Cadbury’s dairy milk) but then with an earthy finish. An interesting change in notes from the straight espresso.

All in all, well worth trying and I would love to hear the thoughts of anyone else who has managed to dial it in on their own machines.

Once again, thanks to Tim and the whole of the St. Ali team for their hospitality and giving us the chance to have a go with it in the shop.

Keep an eye out in the shop as you may see more random espressos, including other St. Ali blends, creeping into the store for some coffee fun afternoons.

All the best!


Live Music in store this Saturday 28/05/11

This Saturday we will have live music playing in store from 1-2pm from The Tom Ford Trio.

Thomas Ford is a young guitarist originally hailing for the West Midlands, at 23 he has already studied and played in America(Boston, New York) 
as well as spending time in the music scenes of Berlin and Brussels. Now back in Birmingham he is playing regularly within the cities thriving Jazz scene.

Playing with many different musicians from all over the country he is able to combine all these personalities into a fresh original sound, while still paying homage to the tradition.

James Hoffman blog and Podcast with Tim Wendlboe

James Hoffman (left) with Gwilym Davies

2007 WBC Champ James Hoffman (left) pictured with 2009 WBC Champ Gwilym Davies (picture by http://jaybyjayfresh.com)

In the world of coffee there are few that’s opinion is as respected or debated over as the 2007 World Barista Champion, James Hoffman.

He has a strong history of airing his varied feelings towards espresso, often going from one extreme to the other - even to the point of not including in his Penny University coffee shop/project.

Recognising this, he has approached the subject in two of his most recent web releasings.

First, in his Jimseven blog he actually breaks down his in depth and technical approach to espresso; leading to his feelings towards the process. The article is aptly named "A Love/Hate Relationship With Espresso"

Secondly, in his latest podcast he talks with Norwegian coffee legend Tim Wendleboe (while somewhat inebriated) about their diverse feelings as to what makes a good espresso; from the roast to the taste. Listen to it here 

Hope you enjoy these posts and keep sipping that coffee. 

London Invasion!

Two of team 6/8 formed a pincer attack on London this past week, one flanking in around the coffee shops of central London while the other went straight shot for Caffe Culture and then partied into the night with some of the best coffee people in the world.

We’ll start off with the journey of Craig, headstrong and valiant Barista. After passing customs out of the midlands he headed to Kaffeine, a beautiful coffee shop in north Soho. There he chatted with Peter, proprietor of the shop and they discussed the importance of customer service in coffee. After that Craig had the chance to be behind the bar, talking with manager Katherine and fellow Barista Justin about the importance of keeping standards in a busy shop environment.

The next stop was St Ali, a new location on Old Street for the now legendary Australian coffee shop. Craig was fortunate enough to spend time with Director of Coffee Tim Williams and Head Barista, Baptiste Kreyder. After being shown around the beautifully designed shop and restaurant, Craig was then allowed to check out the shop floor roastery and very kindly given a bag of their newest espresso blend to play around with back at 6/8 (look for a write up of that fun times very soon). This shop is something else, with great food and design that matches their high standards of coffee. Put this place on your ‘London to do’ list.

Highly caffeinated already, our handsome protagonist still found room in him to push onto Prufrock at Leather Lane and fit in an expertly crafted Flat White. Pruffrock is a place to experience coffee, with a mix of lever espresso machines, uber-boilers, syphons and other toys (although it was late in the day so the brew bar was closed on this visit.) The gods did shine on that day as Prufrock owner and 2009 World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies was in the house and kind enough to have a chinwag. A great day for a Barista who was positively floating on the train home.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town…

Owner of 6/8 was up to his own tricks. After spending the day cruising and schmoozing around Caffe Culture, Dev made his way an invite only Barista Jam to raise money for the Charity “Coffee Kids" in a gathering of London’s finest coffee shop owners; all sponsored by Matthew Algie.

James & Estelle from Dose Espresso

Dale from Has Bean doing blindfolded pouring

Along with having a few beers with Elliot and Christian from Monkshood coffee; Dev was able to watch as James Phillips from Dose, Rummy from Notes, Music & Coffee, Dale from Hasbean, Baptiste from St. Ali, John Gordon from Square Mile and Lynsey Harley from United Coffee all threw down their best pouring skills. Some of the feats of baristairy included pouring two drinks at the same time and even latte art blindfolded! In the end the competition was won by living coffee legend James Phillips from Dose.

John Gordon from Square Mile and James Philips of Dose Espresso prepare

James wins first prize!

The next day, with a mind ready for coffee (but a body suffering from a hangover) Dev went to visit Notes, Music and Coffee. This was his kind of coffee shop. Good vibe, great music, great coffee, great decor. After purchasing some CDs from the in house music department of the shop (some Latin jazz which you may have already heard in 6/8!) Dev chatted with Notes[…] barista Alex and relaxed with his favourite drink - a cappuccino.

A superb couple of days, made great by the best coffee and, of course, the friendliest people in the world who all seem to work in coffee.

Thanks to you all.