Guide to Magic City Coffee – Part 1

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Where business deals, hangouts, and studying goes on, the coffee shops in Birmingham are a must visit. I heard plenty of how this culture is rising in the “Ham” so I sought after it myself. After being highly caffeinated this past Saturday afternoon, I think back on my journey of Magic City Coffee shops and this is what I find.

The Red Cat Coffee House

Pepper Place: 2901 2nd Ave S. Birmingham, AL 35233

Railroad Park: 1701 1st Ave S. Birmingham, AL 35233

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Whether repeat customer, or patron stopping by after adventures at Pepper Place, the staff at The Red Cat will always greet you with a smile. Entering the coffee house, you are also greeted by the warm colors draped around the store and a blast of coffee aroma. This place is packed during peak hours, but eventually calms down to provide the perfect work space.

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Do They Offer Cold Brews?

Yes, the lattes are a point of pride for the Red Cat. These are some of the most popular drinks on the menu.

  • Bengal – Dark Chocolate and Caramel
  • Russian Blue – Dark Chocolate and Mint
  • Havana Brown – Irish Creme and Hazelnut
Do They Roast Their Own Beans?

Yes, the beans are roasted in house with their signature “red roaster” located at the front of the store.

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Where do Their Beans Come From?

Like most shops, the beans come from all over the world. These are directly from the farmers, so Red Cat’s relationship is strong between the two businesses.

How Much is a Basic Cup of Coffee?

The basic white girl coffee is going to range between $2.75-$3.75. Lattes go for $4-$6.

Who do you consider competition?

The Red Cat wants to “concentrate on the highest quality product for everyone”. The competition is minimal among the Cat and other shops; more of a community than anything.


Urban Standard

2320 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203

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When your coffee house is one of the biggest in Birmingham, you are bound to be busy during most parts of the day. Beginning in 2007, Urban Standard wanted to offer the coffee loving public a blend of restaurant eats and perfectly brewed coffee. While successfully pulling off the business model, their coffee brewing skills are of course a point of pride.

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Do They Offer Cold Brew?

Urban does offer a “cold brew”, but not in the traditional sense. A Japaneses method is used where the “over concentrated” brew is poured over ice. As the ice melts, the extra water dilutes the coffee pushing it to the perfect concentration.

Do They Roast Their Own Beans?

No, instead they purchase roasted beans from Counter Culture which is a huge supplier of specialty Sumatra.

The “Concepcion Huista” is one of the favorites of Counter Culture coffee. Trevor whips up a mean pour over, trust me…

Where Do Their Beans Come From?

Depending on the time of year, the beans either come from Guatemala, Indonesia, South America generally, etc.

How Much is a Basic Cup of Coffee?

A small cup of coffee goes for $2.75 and they offer refills for $1.00! Coffee refills, uuuuhhhh yes please. Also, check out the stacked food menu!

Who do you consider competition?

When speaking to Trevor, basically the man running the place from day to day, he said “we’re kind of weird…” talking about the aspect of a full restaurant and coffee bar. There is a full kitchen staff and baristas. Basically, they are the ones to compete with, but again, the coffee shops in Birmingham are all apart of a community.

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Revelator Coffee Company

1826 3rd Ave N Unit 101, Birmingham, AL 35203

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Quiet, neat, and certainly inviting, this upscale spin on an old trade is the best place for low key meetings and finals week. The take Revelator has on coffee is simple, it’s a science they are more than passionate about. Blake, the barista during my visit, said he is “pleased with how much (he’s) able to care about the coffee”. The way Revelator’s baristas feel about coffee is intoxicating, and the hard work displayed (in a small reference to hand stamping every disposable cup) is certainly the Bham way.

For future notice, Revelator will be opening a location inside of the Pizitz Building once the renovations are complete.

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Do They Offer Cold Brew?

Yes, indeed they do have cold brews, in fact, I tried my first ever during my visit. The process is some what unique, compared to other local shops. Brewed and added to cold water for a long time, this is the most caffeinated coffee offered here with 1 pound of coffee per gallon of water.

Do They Roast Their Own Beans?

The beans are roasted in town at the Revelator’s roasting/headquarters. Originally the roasting/headquarters was located in New Orleans.

Where do Their Beans Come From?

From all over. Relevator’s in house sorcerer (Magic Coffee Finder) travels around to find the best coffee beans, then sends them back to the location for testing. After being judged in house, the distribution process begins.

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How Much is a Basic Cup of Coffee?

A standard cup goes for $3. This obviously changes depending on size, quality, and type of coffee offered. The food, although limited, is also very reasonable.

Fun fact: The bread Revelator purchases is from Birmingham Breadworks, #eatlocal, right?

Who do you consider competition?

The response was a bit different from the others, besides the nostalgia they feel for the Bham coffee community. Blake said there is not much “because we are sort of a luxury (coffee house) and provide a ‘new thing'” for the customer.


Octane Coffee/Bar

Homewood: 2821 Central Av Ste 105 Homewood, AL 35209

Uptown: 2221 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd Ste 320 Birmingham, AL 35203

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With two locations, Octane is able to provide coffee/alcohol/a unique service to a variety of consumers. The fun loving atmosphere of Uptown, where I visited, is vibrant and highly distinguishable. Being connected to the Westin Hotel certainly does not hurt. Hanging out in the hotel room eager to start the night off right? Head down stairs to enjoy a cup of joe for that extra bump, or savor the multitude of drinks (including Bham Craft Brews) available.

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Do They Offer Cold Brew?

They sure do and in a special way that hasn’t been mentioned yet! The process consists of Nitrous Oxide which cools the coffee down to perfection for your palette.

Do They Roast Their Own Beans?

The Homewood location is home to Octane’s “roastery”. This store supports the same type of bushiness model within the heart of the suburb.

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Where do Their Beans Come From?

Depending on the season, the beans come from all over the world. There are coffee specialists in countries like Indonesia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

How Much is a Basic Cup of Coffee?

The standard cup is like many before it, $2.75, but if you’re feeling patient enough, the specialty pour over ranges from $4 to $5. Food like pastries and sandwiches are also available at the absolute most reasonable of prices.

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Who do you consider competition?

I have found it very pleasing to hear about the community revolving around coffee in Birmingham. Who are the leaders of this movement you might ask? It’s the baristas themselves! Just about everyone knows everyone in this emerging industry within the Magic City, and all they want is to provide the customer with the best service possible.


Saturn Birmingham Coffee/Bar

200 41st St S, Birmingham, AL 35222

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When coffee is not enough, why not offer up some alcohol. The unique aspect of Saturn Birmingham is the mixture of coffee, bar, and venue. Shops like Seeds and The Red Cat also provide venues for small music guests, but nowhere near the scale of this establishment. Located in the heart of Avondale, while surrounded by beer and food (2 big favorites among Birminghamians), could not be better for Saturn and the community. The atmosphere is fitting for anyone wanting to tap into their inner hipster.

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Do They Offer Cold Brews?

They do not, but hey, if you’re looking for a cold drink, you probably weren’t thinking of coffee when entering Saturn.

Do They Roast Their Own Beans and Where do They Come From?

Saturn’s in partnership with Stumptown Coffee, located in Portland, Oregon. The company distributes directly from Latin America, Africa, and Indonesia (basically from the bean masters themselves).

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Who do you consider competition?

Providing 3 different services definitely has its advantages. The bar/venue is unmatched due to the variety offered. They are in a leauge all their own, but they do attract the same demographic, in terms of customers. Competitive, yes of course, but dedicated to locality, just as much as the rest in this list.

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Seeds Coffee Company

174 Oxmoor Rd, Birmingham, AL 35209

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Photo By: Ren Reed Photography

Note: Most of the photos taken of Seeds Coffee Co. are brought to you by Ren Reed Photography.

While college students are the main base of this coffee shops business, they cater to customers of all types. Walking in, the shop is set in a large industrial looking space that proves conducive to work, studying, or your everyday conversation. While they do pride themselves on providing a space for everyone, the way the coffee is brewed keeps them on the map. The space also includes an area for small bands to play which screams #keepitlocal.

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Do They Offer Cold Brew?

Like other before, Seeds does offer a cold brew coffee. The process is the nitro method which instantly cools the coffee down to rest easy on the palette.

Do They Roast Their Beans?

The roasting is done in house, which not only cuts down on cost, but allows them to add a final touch on the totality of the coffee offered.

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Where do Their Beans Come From?

Seeds has a great relationship with their suppliers. They buy coffee from Guatemala (for 3 years now), Ethiopia, and are hoping to own their own farm in Indonesia. The relationships made between the farmers and brewers is very important in the coffee business. Seeds does this very well by knowing exactly who they are buying from. This provides a strong relationship for some great coffee.

How Mush is a Basic Cup of Coffee?

Like the others, a standard cup goes for $3.75.

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Who do you consider competition?

The shop is designed for everyone, even baristas/owners of other coffee establishments. As mentioned earlier, the relationships these baristas have within the coffee community is strong. They all want the success of the other so that this culture will continue to thrive.


To make this short, if you love coffee, Bham, and the growth happening in the city, become invested in these coffee shops. Like the breweries, they are drink innovators and will continue to provide the best service to our coffee community.

Thanks for the read!

Author: Wade Cline

Senior at Samford University, Marketing Major, Tech Junkie, Foodie, Bham Lover, Wannabe Social Media Guru - Twitter: @wade_cline

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