Whenever I move to a new area or start working in a new place, I make it a priority to find a good coffee shop. Not only is the coffee important, but I find coffee shops provide a great social space. When I stumbled upon Under Pressure Espresso after recently starting work in Sutton Coldfield, I knew I had found something good with great potential.
You’ll find UPE on the Birmingham Road approaching Sutton Coldfield Centre. It popped up in late summer 2014 as the brainchild of coffee enthusiast Matt Hall. Years of planning while working in various coffee houses in a Canada have gone into this venture, and it shows.
I’d describe the décor as urban-rustic. The shop frontage consists of an inviting full length window, covered with the Under Pressure Espresso branding. The earthy colour scheme continues into the shop: one red wall is bordered by a bare brick feature. The others decorated with a map of the world, and graphic art pieces depicting takeaway coffee cups. The floor is painted concrete, adding to the urban feel, while the seating (my most favourite feature) is rustic heavy bench tables. The shop seats around 15- 20 people. I like this. Being small means a relaxed ambience is maintained. With its carefully selected music and unobtrusive layout, UPE is most definitely a great hideaway.
Having carefully followed their evolution since their establishment in 2011, UPE have selected Work Shop coffee as their coffee supplier.
I find the way that UPE sells its coffee refreshingly simple. It starts with how it is brewed: espresso or filter. Espressos are made using the Victoria Arduino machine that sits proudly, like a well loved ’50s car on the coffee bar. You can choose to have a single or double espresso, or to combine them with milk to create the familiar latte, cappuccino, macchiato etc. The filter coffee, however, is where the real coffee science starts. If you want to grab ‘a quick coffee’, filter is not the way to go. Everything is precise, from the digital coffee grinder measuring the exact weight of the coffee, to the kettle setting the temperature of the water. I’ll be honest, the first time I notice my coffee being weighed as it brewed I thought it was a bit overkill, but after explaining how using this method, consistency is ensured in each cup, I realised how much of a quality cup of coffee I was about to drink. In keeping with the care taken with this cup of brown nectar, black filter coffees are served in a carafe. I thought this was a really nice touch.
The filter coffee being served over my several visits has been the Santa Rosa, from Huila, Columbia. At first I tried it with my usual ‘1 sugar’, but discovered it really didn’t need it. Initially I found it to have a juicy acidity with slight notes of dark rum, but then settling with a rich sweet finish.
Alongside ‘the main event’, UPE also sells a selection of Canton teas as well as soft drinks supplied by Square Root London. Again, like the coffee, these brands have been selected with minute care and attention. I tried a lemonade and was pleasantly surprised at its tart flavour, something you don’t often get with bottled ‘old fashioned’ lemonade.
Currently UPE sells a selection of cakes from local supplier Lil’s Parlour, and Buns from Thirteen Bakers. Over the past weeks I have tried various different goodies. I particularly enjoyed the Berry Florentine bar from Lil’s Parlour. There was a really nice mix of berries and cereals, producing a satisfying soft and textured bite. The brownies, however, I found to not be as of good a standard, being a little over baked and lacking a gooey texture.
Thirteen Bakers are currently supplying UPE with a selection of Scandinavian Buns. I tried a bun flavoured with cardamom, and was really impressed with the quality. I wouldn’t normally go for this type of bakery, but will certainly by going back for another. Cardamom can often be overpowering if not used in careful quantities but these had a perfect balance between sweet and spice.
Hot drinks: £2.25- £2.80
Square Root Sodas: £2.50
Cakes and Pastries: £2.00
Lemonade and Scandinavian Bun: £4.50
I am really looking forward to how UPE grows over the coming months. Their motto is “Striving to serve up some of the best coffee in the country” and having spent some time getting to know the place, I honestly think this is an ethos that will be stuck to. The UPE guys want to serve the best, and be the best they can be, while helping others to do the same along the way. I love the relaxed atmosphere, and how so much care and attention has been put into everything, from the decor and ambience, to the coffee and food itself. I really hope to see more people taking advantage of the knowledge about coffee being shared here. In regards to products, I hope to see some more savoury options. At the moment, the sweet tooth is more than catered for, but perhaps some filled croissants, or fresh baked sour dough would be a nice addition to the selection to provide a better balance.
This review can also be found at