MEET THE BUSINESS: GORILLA COFFEE CAFE
Coffee, cakes, bikes and beer...could there be a more perfect combination?! For those of you haven’t discovered newcomers Gorilla Coffee Cafe yet, we have a feeling you’ll be heading straight there after reading this!
Since opening in November 2016, how have your first few months in Kings Heath been?
The last couple of months have been a whirlwind. We have been bowled over by the people of Kings Heath and cyclists across Birmingham who have warmed to our offer. Our expectations have been exceeded and we have now recruited extra staff to join the team. We have received some amazing reviews from publications such as I Choose Birmingham, Birmingham Evening Mail and Style Birmingham to choose just a few and to now be voted in the top 10 coffee shops in Birmingham after just a couple of months has been amazing.
What was the idea behind bringing coffee, beer and bicycles together?
As a triathlete, I was always surprised at how often cyclists were made to feel unwelcome at cafes and bars. After our cycle rides, we often wanted to chat or meet friends but there were few places that would welcome us. This gave me the idea of creating a café which acted as a club house for cyclists, runners and members of the local community. When out of lycra, cyclists enjoy nice food, coffee and the odd pint (or two). Out of this idea, Gorilla Coffee was born.
We love your name and logo! Where did the inspiration come from?
Simple. When I would race, I would use a special type of road bike called a Time Trial. These bike are very uncomfortable but very fast. They have you stretched out in long, aerodynamic position with your arms in front and head tucked down. Now, I’m quite tall and Stacey used to say I looked like a chimp on a tiny bike…. The logo and name was born.
As a new business in the area, why did you choose Kings Heath to settle in?
We chose Kings Heath as the place to set up Gorilla Coffee Cafe for a number of reasons, but maybe the most important was the community feel that Kings Heath has. The sense of belonging that you feel in the area is exactly what we wanted for Gorilla Coffee, where all the varied characters bring something new to the group.
The unit we found for Gorilla Coffee was also a massive draw. The outside area is just off the High Street, and catches the afternoon sun perfectly. As soon as I saw it, I just pictured myself sitting at one of our tables, drinking wine, and I was immediately sold!
What is it like to be part of the strong community of independent businesses here in Kings Heath?
We knew that Kings Heath has a history of housing some of the city’s most-loved independents, so we hoped to soak up some of that energy! Thankfully, we’ve been made to feel so welcome by the other independents, which has been really encouraging. We’ve worked alongside some of our new neighbours, including Kings Heath Running Club, Moseley Missiles Cycling, BRAT Club and many of the Sette Dodici riders who have been regular and very welcome customers, so we’re feeling the Kings Heath love. Everyone is out to support each other, which I think is something really special about the area.
What makes you different from any other business in Kings Heath?
I think the main thing that sets us apart from the others in Kings Heath is our wonderful team. We’re such a close-knit team and everyone is the best at what they do: Ed, Jasmine, and Veronika are our front-of-house team, who keep all our customers caffeinated, fed, and happy! Ed’s flat white has even been touted as Kings Heath’s finest, so they really are the real deal. We also have Damian, our in-house bike guru, who keeps the cogs turning upstairs in the bike workshop. It’s great to have such an enthusiastic and expert team behind Gorilla Coffee Cafe, and Stacey and I are really lucky to have them all on-board.
For those who haven’t visited you yet, what can your customers expect from the food and drink on your menus?
Sourcing our food and drink has been a real labour of love, so customers can expect to find some of the region’s finest produce on our menus! Celebrating local producers sits at the heart of Gorilla Coffee, and we’re really proud of that. We use cheeses for our platters from Worcestershire and Shropshire, which are perfect to graze on and share between friends. The wonderful teams at Peel & Stone and Creating Taste also provide our bread and cakes, as well as our talented Jasmine who has a knack for homemade pastries. Our drinks menu is also home-grown. The coffee served is created by Worcestershire-based Coffee Masters and the craft beer on offer celebrates the best of Brum. A firm favourite on the drinks’ list is the collection of beers that include Blackheath’s Fixed Wheel Brewery which are great after a hard day in the saddle.
With an on-site cycle repair shop, what bicycle services do you offer?
Our bike workshop is located above the café and is ready and waiting to take on any challenge! Operated by our highly experienced cycle mechanic Damian, the workshop is fully equipped to undertake everything from minor adjustments through to full servicing. We also offer a collection and delivery service within five miles of the shop. Whether it’s your work place, home, or train station, the team will come and find your ride!
Do you have any group rides, events or projects that the community can get involved in?
Yes – we have a social Sunday cycle ride which is meet at the café at 8.30am on a Sunday morning. This has been so successful that we are now training up a group of volunteers who will be leading out even more groups of differing abilities so that we can cater for more people.
Readers of my blog will also see that we have just announced the shortlist for customers to nominate the Gorilla Coffee Café Charity of the year. We are asking customers to tell us who they feel are the worthiest, with the winner having a series of events and activities done in their name to raise much-needed funds. The highlight of these will be our planned London to Paris cycle ride, which will be taking place in June. Keep an eye out for more information in the coming weeks!
What does the year ahead have in store for Gorilla Coffee Cafe?
2017 is so exciting for us. We are looking to grow our Sunday social rides and expand that to include a Thursday evening session, when the days start to stay brighter for longer. Spring will see lots of events around the big cycling classic one-day events. On our big screen, we will be showing the Grand Tours; Giro D’Italia, Tour De France and Vuelta Espana.
We’re already gearing ourselves up for a fantastic summer of cycling!
Where can we find out more online?
Our blog is updated regularly with all of our news, so keep an eye out for that. You can also stay up to date with all things Gorilla Coffee by giving our Facebook page a ‘Like’ or by following us on Instagram and Twitter. Be warned: our Instagram feed will make you very hungry…
If the world wide web isn’t your thing, you can always pop in and see us: we’re located just off the High Street on Drayton Road. You can’t miss us!