Nothing aggravates me more than walking through Manchester and seeing a queue of people outside Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you want a quick coffee on the go and Starbucks happen to be on every bloody corner, making it the most convenient choice. But Manchester has so much more to offer in terms of coffee shops.
What makes a cool coffee shop? Do they have to be independent? Have a welcoming atmosphere? Lightning fast wifi? Or is it purely down to the quality of the food and coffee? I think it’s a combination of all these things and these are my favourites.
All photos by local photographer Georgie Glass
This Aussie-owned independent coffee shop serves an excellent roast from Big-Smoke-based Ozone, but these guys offer more than just a great cup of coffee. They also hold the title for some of the most Instagrammed brunches in Manchester. Ever since smashed avo has been a thing, their fresh and locally sourced eats have never failed to disappoint – which is probably why it often has people queuing out the door.
9 Nicholas Croft, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1EY
If you’re on the look out for fresh artisan coffee in minimalist, Nordic-inspired surroundings, then stark, hipster hangout Takk is probably the place for you.
Undoubtedly a NQ favourite, the coffee at Takk is just as good as the atmosphere, serving ‘North Projekt’ – a Bristol-roasted Nordic Style espresso that forms the basis of all their drinks. It’s definitely a brew to keep the mind sharp, but I heard they feature regular guest espresso too! A great excuse to keep going back.
6 Tariff Street Manchester M1 2FF
This independent kickstarter-funded coffee shop started off selling coffee from their eco-hut on Greengate Square. Now, their own bricks and mortar place on Deansgate offers a simple concept, with wooden crates forming the tables and chairs – well-cushioned to avoid laddering tights. Grindsmiths fits into the Great Northern Warehouse perfectly and brings a tiny bit of hipster to an area which is popular with more corporate types. The coffee is excellently presented and the staff always ensure that you’re well looked after.
231 – 233 Deansgate, Manchester, UK, M3 4EN
With Ancoats tipped to be the up-and-coming neighbourhood, the aptly named Ancoats Coffee Co. is part of Royal Mills and offers a homely welcome. With the dark, exposed brickwork swamping the walls and ceiling, it’s easy to tell that you’re in an old mill but the excellent lighting making for a comfy set-up that could quite easily become one of my favourite places in Manchester for a coffee. Using only accredited importers to source their products, these guys deeply care about their coffee farms and aim to provide a broad range of information about the country and the variety of coffee that’s been imported, allowing for plenty of choice for the coffee bods amongst us.
Unit 9, Royal Mills, 17 Redhill Street, Ancoats, M4 5BA
5Foundation Coffee House
By far the biggest coffee shop on the list, Foundation Coffee House can feel rather sparse if you happen upon it at the wrong time. Luckily, it’s usually pretty busy with freelancers, with ‘business meetings’ aplenty and many NQ locals popping by for a quick take-out. Whiter than white tiling and a colossal concrete floor creates a canvas for some neat décor and more than enough space to park your behind. Not only is the coffee exceptional here but their collaboration with Trove Café of Levenshulme means they provide cakes, pastries and artisan sandwiches to suit all types.
Sevendale House, Lever St M1 1JB
6Home of Honest Coffee
Part creative space and part café, Honest Coffee play host to regular community meet-ups for poetry groups and film screenings and aim to plough all their profits back into the local community to help fund creative grants. So they’re really good guys, but what about the coffee? Chorlton-based independent roastery Passion Fruit Coffee hold the responsibility for the caffeine kicks here, giving the coffee fanatics down at Honest the chance to provide a range of pick-me-ups such as espresso and pourovers and calm-me-downs such as camomile teas.
77 Chapel St, Salford M3 5BZ
7Fig & Sparrow
Like many others, you might mistake Fig & Sparrow for a quirky trinket shop. But you’d be very wrong. Nestled to the rear of this popular independent lifestyle store is a quaint coffee shop that offers some outstanding beverages. The café area may be small and on some busy days it can be difficult to find a place to roost, but perseverance will be rewarded as the coffee here is exceptional.
20 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter M1 1JN
Down past the universities just off Oxford Rd lies Anchor Coffee. It’s fittingly named, as they aim to ‘anchor’ the community by investing in the ‘pay it forward’ concept which allows the customer to buy a free coffee for someone else in the community who really needs it.
Given that they also stock, arguably, the best coffee around – Monmouth coffee – it’s a retreat for the student community and anyone who fancies a wander out of the city centre.
508 Moss Lane East, Manchester M14 4PA
9Ezra & Gil
Ezra & Gil have planted themselves firmly on the booming NQ independent coffee shop roster. Translating into ‘helper’ (Ezra) and ‘happiness’ (Gil), they have an immense, light-hearted place that profits from so much space that they’ve even been able to plonk a small shop inside – ideal for picking up a few provisions. Their urban coffee is one to rival any nearby coffee shop, and their popularity is proven by the sheer amount of folk in the café at any one time. When I pass by, it’s always busy!
20 Hilton St, Manchester M1 1FR
10Pot Kettle Black
Deansgate’s Barton Arcade plays host to Pot Kettle Black – a glass fronted coffee haven that has Mancunians flocking from all over the city. I’m yet to see PKB empty, which is testament to their consistently high standards and some of the best coffee in the City.
Also a sanctuary for freelancers I’m not the first to have spent an entire day in PKB, keeping fuelled by their beverages and snacks and I’m positive that I won’t be the last.
Unit 14, Barton Arcade, Deansgate M3 2BW