Filter Coffee Parlor Opens its Doors to Birmingham!
James Little always had a feeling that he wanted to open a coffee shop. Now, he and his wife, Jill Marlar, have done just that! Filter has just opened in Birmingham’s Five Points South and, based on our visit, you’re definitely going to want to check it out!
Filter is located in the spot that was previously home to a Starbucks. In 2017 Starbucks stated, "As part of Starbucks standard course of business, we continually evaluate our business to ensure a healthy store portfolio...we made the difficult decision to close our store located at 1911 11th Avenue S. in Birmingham, AL.”
I don’t think anyone would be surprised that this statement is par for the course for a mega corporation. As Starbucks was closing its doors, however, James Little had already begun his search for a location that would be home to Filter. Fast forward to 2019 and Filter has breathed new life into this historic building.
What’s on the Menu?
Birmingham knows its coffee. More importantly, Birmingham likes to know where its coffee is from. Filter will be serving up coffee roasted by Prevail Union out of Montgomery. The flavored coffee will be provided by Red Bike Coffee which is located in Irondale. Starting out, Filter will have scones and muffins which are made in-house and also will sell baked goods by Forest Bear, Beehive Baking Company, and more! Eventually, they plan to serve a light sandwich menu as well.
A Warm and Inviting Space
From the gold leaf lettering on the door to the rich wood decor, James and Jill have put a lot of thought into every detail of the shop. They call it a coffee parlor and it definitely feels like a place where you can gather around with friends, share stories, or have a casual business meeting. Couple this with the happy feelings triggered by the bold smell of fresh coffee beans and you'll probably decide to stay a while longer to catch up on emails or those never ending social media alerts.
If you glance up past the gold, coffee filter shaped, pendant lighting you will catch a glimpse of the upstairs loft. This spacious area is perfect for those of us who habitually pull out our laptops while sipping our lattes. It is complete with high-back padded benches that add a trendy look as well as comfort. In the near future, Jill and James plan to allow groups to reserve this area as a meeting space. “We want it to be open and inviting to everyone,” says Jill. She told us how she could see it as a place where people could drink their coffee and play dominos.
A Deep Connection
Filter is definitely a family affair. Both James and Jill run the business and even their 7yr old daughter, Ruby, helps to put labels on things. James’s father was in the shop helping out during our visit. It’s always nice to see a business that is truly family owned and operated especially when they have deep ties to the community.
Jill Marlar is a local artist whose work you are probably familiar with! Among her most popular items are small pillows with prints of Birmingham landmarks on them. You have probably seen her work at Art Walk over the years, or maybe you've heard her give a talk at the Birmingham Museum of Art. When Jill and James got married they lived off of Cobb Ln., just a short walk from Filter’s front door.
We first met James Little a few years ago when he worked for REV Birmingham. He started Birmingham Restaurant Week and had invited us to be guest bloggers. (We have done it every year since!) James has also been president of the Five Points Neighborhood Association and is heavily involved in the Five Points Alliance. To say he has roots in the area would be an understatement.
We learned something new about James. He has an extensive background in coffee and coffee shops! (Makes sense, right?!) James has worked for Barnie’s Coffee, O’Henry’s, and was even the manager of the aforementioned Starbucks in 5pts! He is bringing a vast knowledge of coffee roasting, brewing, and stellar customer service along with him as he opens the doors of his own coffee parlor. If ever there was someone prepared to run an ideal coffee shop, James is that person.
Amber and I asked Jill what she looking forward to most as Filter opens its doors to the public. “We don’t usually have time to stay socially connected or go to fun events with people, so we think this is also a way to see so many people that we don’t get to see that often,” she replied. We have to admit, as much as we love event hopping around Birmingham, how fun would it be to have our friends come visit us?! We’re a bit jealous.
As we made our way around the shop we also noticed that Filter has Birmingham themed merchandise from local artists. This is another perk of being a local operation. They also carry Filter branded mugs, glasses, and tumblers! I have a feeling that we will be adding at least one of these items to our Birmingham collection.
During our conversation with Jill, the three of us talked about how much joy we all get when we see our good friends in Birmingham turn their vision into a reality. Jill and James are definitely part of what we lovingly refer to as our “Bham-Fam.” By, hearing them talk about Filter over the past year, seeing the logo for the first time, and walking through the door of the shop, we already feel a close connection. We have no doubt that after paying them a visit, you will feel that connection too.
Be sure to follow Filter on Facebook and Instagram, or sign up for their newsletter HERE.
They are located at 1911 11th Avenue S. in Birmingham, AL 35205
Hour of Operation are:
Mon – Wed: 6am to 5pm
Th-Fri: 6am to 9pm
Sat.: 7am to 9pm
Sun: 7am to 4pm