Where Manchester meets Melbourne: the Australian cafe bar taking the city by storm


Everyone and their nan probably knows about the Federal Café bar situation that sits on the edge of the Northern Quarter.

Mancunians love nothing more than a good brunch. It’s a meal that brings together all that is good and honest in this world and gives you an excuse to drink before noon.

The brunch menu is on a whole different level at Federal and the baristas serve up some of the best coffee this side of Hosier Lane – that’s the coffee capital of the coffee capital in you case you didn’t know.

Melbourne does caffeinated brunches well, served with avo toast, banana breads, granola sundaes, streaky bacon and all sorts of sourdough. It was hipster before the word was ever attached to those bearded man-bunned Bon Iver fans rocking up to cafés asking for charcoal cappuccinos.

You won’t find any charcoal caps at this joint, but you’ll find plenty to get stuck into. We popped down on a rainy Friday afternoon to see what’s up.

As soon as you walk in, you’re hit with them. Those vibes. The whole place feels like a hidden gem from an Ozzie back street. You’re a stone’s throw from the Arndale but it feels like a million miles.

There’s a humming coffee machine to one corner with a bunch of shockingly handsome baristas cracking jokes between latte art, the smell of fresh baked banana bread and buzz of quite chatter. You’ll probably find that, as you’re queuing up to take your order, a couple of girls are snapping their caramel coffees for the ‘gram.

You may judge now, but you’ll be wanting to keep your iphone charged and your Instagram hand strong because the drinks here are just that photoworthy. Grab a shot from the top, throw on a filter, tag Federal and you’ll see what I mean.

Manchester cafe Federal Northern Quarter coffee

The gritty-chic décor and laid back Australian approach streams through to the food that’s served up piping hot and fresh as anything. If you’re after some fine fare that caters to the mid-morning market then you can’t go wrong with this place. I’m not talking about those pretentious Spinningfields bruncheries where party people pop bottles like they’re auditioning for a hip-hop video. I’m talking about the laid back vibes of a place where a good cappuccino is akin to a glass of prosecco and I am perfectly okay with that.

Owner Claudio, originally from Portugal, told us they owe their great tasting coffee to Kiwi roasters, OZONE.

“It’s what gives all of our drinks that rich chocolatey taste,” he told us. “Only a few places in Manchester have OZONE as their roasters – and we are lucky enough to be one of them.”

Manchester coffee Federal cafe bar

We sat down to perfectly plated lashings of creamy smashed avocado sprinkled with chilli flakes, peppercorns and plenty of lime zest for an extra kick. This was all heaped onto a generous portion of sourdough toast, then topped with two perfectly poached eggs.

The grilled halloumi was crispy, salty and delicious and cut through the steaming hot garlic shrooms perfectly. It was, in a word, perfect. Whatever else you order, make sure you grab some of the smashed avo as either a side or a main. It is, without a doubt, some of the best in the city and a brunch lover’s bestie.

Coffee Federal cafe

We finished up with the home baked M&M brownie and a caramel cappucino. The coffee was creamy, with bite and flavour without the slightest hint of bitterness and the brownie was mouthful after mouthful of fudgey goodness. The salted peanuts, the crunchy topping, the sweet gooey centre all mix together to make a sweet treat to cure all ills. M&M’s and brownie together have restorative powers. It’s scientifically proven.

Federal serves up the best of Aussie fare with a Manc twist. It’s cool, gritty-chic and the food is fresher than a new fade. The drinks are piping hot and they’re served with so much latte art you’ll want to take a snap or three for your gram. Like the country it takes inspiration from, Federal doesn’t have to try hard. It just is.


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