I’ve loved coffee, for as long as I can remember.  Most students’ key item of equipment in their hall of residence room was a toaster – mine was my coffee machine, an 18th birthday gift from my parents!  While I have thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the growth of coffee culture in the UK, as in many areas of the economy I am uncomfortable with domination by a few huge corporates, and believe that local, independent people deserve a chance.

Lucky for me, I live in Birmingham.  Why? Because our city is rapidly developing an independent coffee shop culture that is the envy of other cities, and a delight for resident and visiting coffee lovers alike.  We are blessed with a string of great local outlets, each with their own personality and vibe, but all offering a range of great coffees and food in friendly and pleasant surroundings, as well as a fantastic location for freelance working, a place to meet friends, an ideal venue for networking and business events, and a range of social activities for people with different interests.  What could be better than being served an amazing coffee by someone who is truly passionate about what they do, who knows you by name and is always keen to chat?  It came as no surprise to any of us who know the city that the New York Times singled out the independent coffee shop scene in Birmingham for special mention as they rated the city among their top places to travel to in 2012.

And the independent scene is set to get even more of a boost from the first Coffee Birmingham event, which will be held on September 29th of this year.  Celebrating all that is good and positive about our local coffee shops, and the creative community that goes hand in hand with them, it will involve expert baristas from several of our favourite outlets, sharing their knowledge and expertise at venues throughout the city.  I am delighted to have been asked to contribute to the event by running walking tours to and between venues on the day, and I’m looking forward to being part of Coffee Birmingham and helping to celebrate the things that make this city such a great place to live, work and visit.

For more information, please visit www.coffeebirmingham.co.uk and check out what is happening.  And remember to support your local independent coffee shop!