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BEST OF MCR: Indie Coffee And Tea Shops

Confidential on bypassing the major chains to find the best artisan brew in the city.

Written by . Published on October 12th 2014.


BEST OF MCR: Indie Coffee And Tea Shops
 

MANCHESTER is full of romance for indie coffeehouses at present.  

The city has embraced a new wave of bean roasters and brew makers to the fold, and we've seen a seismic shift from 2-in-1 Nescafe instant cups, to long leisurely lunches in comfy chairs, clutching hand crafted speciality coffee in big mugs. 

Some are new, some are established, some are even award winners. But all are wonderfully independent. 

We’ve put it down to repeated episodes of coffeehouse comedy Friends and the upsurge of creatives with a penchant for flat whites and endearing latte art.

Sure, in the North we’ve always done tea well (strong, with milk - sugar if you’re partial), but while our coffee has now gone artisan, we’ve also been dabbling in a bit of the ‘Assams’ and ordering up more of the ‘Oolongs’.

Manchester’s coffee (and tea) stock is on the up - explained here in a previous Confidential article: MCR's Indie Coffee Culture Rising.

While the major chains continue to punctuate the high street, in the main, the better independents can be found within the Northern Quarter, and they’ve multiplied like yeast of late.

Ask anyone and they're sure to have their own favourite across Manchester, however, this list is strictly comprised of offerings within the city centre. Because that's where most of us pick up our daily java day-in and day-out.

Some are new, some are established, some are even award winners. But all are wonderfully independent. 

North Tea Power V StarbucksNorth Tea Power V Starbucks (courtesy of @northteapower)

Caffeine & Co

Caffeine & Co specialise in smooth rich Italians - of the cappuccino and latte variety from Square Mile Coffee Roasters. Originally cropping up in St James Square, off John Dalton Street, then branching out to Longford Park, they are about to relocate their third outlet to the former Granada HQ building, off Quay Street. The coffee company have bested the bitter bean blends of the major chains with thoughtfully sourced coffee from local roasters. Their flat white is a sophisticated beauty and both the banana cake and the lemon cup cakes make cracking accompaniments. The homemade soups are worthy of a mention too.

Caffeine & Co | 11 St James's Square| Manchester | M2 6WE @caffeineandco

Caffeine And Co Flat WhiteCaffeine & Co Flat White

Chris' Coffee

Chinatown welcomed its first coffee shop this year. Well, owner Sinty Leung is fairly sure the small coffeehouse is the first in the area. While China may be the homeland of tea, on Princess Street, this tiny ground floor coffee shop is offering up Yorkshire roasted beans and impressing in the process. In fact, Leung hated the bitter taste of coffee until she started brewing her own artisan blend.  The coffee is bold, well crafted and, contrary to the pretty pink decor inside, doesn’t need to be sweetened. Go for the Americano (£3).

Chris' Coffee | 83 Princess Street| Manchester | Facebook

Chris Coffee, ChinatownChris Coffee, Chinatown

Grindsmith

It all got started for Grindsmith with brilliant coffee served up in, well, a shed. The eco-friendly coffee unit found on Greengate Square seats only eight people yet they’ve managed to stir up a large following. A crowd-funded venture by Peter Gibson and Luke Tomlinson, Grindsmith have also parked a barista trike in a unit space on Deansgate. Despite the humble beginnings, Grindsmith knock-up a special cuppa (from £3). It's hard not to be taken in by the nifty milk art, which one barista claimed took him 'two years to perfect'. The lattes always come up beautifully, although, they've not managed to master my portrait as yet. 

Grindsmith | Greengate Square | Salford @Grindsmiths

Grindsmith Eco UnitGrindsmith Eco Unit

Propertea

Most Haunted’s Yvette Fielding is a self confessed tea fanatic and her Manchester teahouse, Propertea, is testament to this. Propertea, in the Visitor Centre at Manchester Cathedral, is an impressive tea shop and the expansive menu will have you fluent in traditional Chinese and Indian loose leaf teas before your first pot is brewed. Propertea are brazen purists when it comes to tea and will always recommend to not dilute flavours with sugar. For those who like their teas strong try the ‘champagne of teas’ the Arya Darjeeling (£4.20) or a Chinese wulong tea if you're feeling extravagant (£7.00).

Propertea | Manchester Cathedral | 10 Cateaton St | Manchester | M3 1SN @propertearooms

ProperteaPropertea

Pot Kettle Black           

Two strapping young St Helens rugby players - Jon Wilkin and Mark Flanagan - have recently tried their hand at serving up strapping, full bodied coffee within the Barton Arcade and they’ve succeeded in enrichening the city's coffee circuit with a lovely arabica coffee from Workshop Coffee. Pot Kettle Black opened in early-October in the former Sirocco unit and the glass fronted coffeehouse has made a much welcome addition to the Victorian back-drop of the historic arcade. From £3 the espressos here are a triumph. Try the pastrami and pickle sandwich – it’s beefy‘n’brawny like the owners.

Pot Kettle Black | Unit 14 Barton Arcade | Deansgate | Manchester| M3 2BW | @PKBCoffee

Pot Kettle Black 3Pot Kettle Black 

Richmond Tea Rooms

Say you’ve just fallen down a rabbit hole. You've dusted yourself off, drank a curious mixture and found yourself at a dining table with a mad man in a tall cumbersome hat. Well, if you're in Manchester, it's likely you've somehow ended up in the Richmond Tea Rooms. Situated in The Village, the cocktail and tea room is Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland re-imagined.  It’s a theme they’ve run with and gone wild. Recently awarded 'Best Independent Coffee Shop' at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards 2014, Richmond Tea Rooms is undoubtedly the most extravant tea house on this list. You’ll find yourself cooing over the delicate china and all the cooky chintz. For a feminine afternoon for one, try the Hatters Tea (£10.50) - it comes with a large homemade scone, finger sandwiches and choice of any brew.

Richmond Tea Rooms | 15 Richmond St | Manchester | M1 3HZ | @richmondtearoom

Richmond Tea RoomsRichmond Tea Rooms

Takk

Independent coffeehouses, by their very nature, are pretty hip. But which is the hippest or all the hip indies? Takk. Why? Well, drawing inspiration from the coffeehouses of Icelandic capital, Reyjavik, Takk can hold the Scandi banner aloft – which right now makes it hipper than Zooey Deschanel snapping a row of pastel-coloured fixed-gear bicycles with a Leica C in Brooklyn. Takk, aside from boasting twice as many Mac-warriors as any other gaff in town, also do a belting flat white (£2.60) and a ginger flapjack that’ll put hairs on your back, plus the bonus of a few reclaimed wooden school desks with the odd scratched-in nob gag to keep you chuckling. Grab a National Geographic or an Alfred Wainwright, take an awkward plastic seat or rickety wooden chair and check your iCloud or write your screenplay or something, man. DB

Takk| 6 Tariff Street| Northern Quarter|M1 2FF| @takkmcr

TakkTakk

Teacup Kitchen

Teacup has become an institution on Thomas Street and for good reason. The popular teahouse knows that with good tea must come even better cake. On its windows there's written 'cake makes better lovers' and we’d be inclined to agree. Teacup also know that good things are worth waiting for and tea lovers are given a timer to stop hasty hands pouring before ready. This lot have loose leaf brewing down to a fine art. Park yourself with a large pot of Assam Gold (£4.80), and steady yourself for a hybrid hit of fruity and firm flavours. Save room after brunch, as the cakes come in generous, mighty, two-fist sized slices. 

Teacup Kitchens|53-55 Thomas St | M4 1NA | @teacupandcakes

Teacup CakesTeacup Cakes

North Tea Power

These coffee crusaders have been pioneering speciality coffee in the city for a while now. Owners and baristas, Wayne and Jayne, have handcrafted the silkiest, smoothest brews that the city can muster and has a hearty cake offering to boot. Popular with freelancers and creatives with dot-com startups, the queues for this small independent have been known to flow out onto Tib Street at lunchtime. Once inside, grab a wooden stool, sip a latte (£3), flick through a page-turner and feel free to let out an audible 'ahhh'. Here you're drinking northern independent coffee at its finest.

North Tea Power| 36 Tib St | M4 1LA | @northteapower

North Tea PowerNorth Tea Power

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Siobhan FarrarOctober 12th 2014.

What about Mug? Love it in there!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Roger TaylorOctober 12th 2014.

Where's that?

Siobhan FarrarOctober 12th 2014.

John Dalton Street at the deansgate end. Amazing coffee and they do hot vimto :)

Hero
malcolmduffinOctober 12th 2014.

Don't forget Fig & Sparrow on Oldham St. Wonderful coffees, snacks and shop selling wonderful gifts and art

AnonymousOctober 12th 2014.

It's a shame you only covered the city centre I this article, as there is a fabulous independent coffee and tea shop in Urmston, called Noesis, located on Higher Road, next to the old post office. They have a great range of speciality teas, home baked cake a well as their own coffee blend. Worth a visit if you are in the vicinity. :)

Kevin PeelOctober 12th 2014.

Glad to see my favourites on here and a few I'll have to add to my list!

AnonymousOctober 12th 2014.

Had a strange experience in North Tea Power. Went in there with my Mum one lunchtime. She asked for an espresso with a drop of milk, not that outrageous a request, but they flatly refused to give her what she wanted, as 'they like to stick to their menu'. Bizarre.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
mancadamOctober 13th 2014.

I expect they would have been happy to do so if you'd have asked for a "cortado", but asking for an espresso with a drop of milk is far too uncultured for a northern quarter barrista to understand.

AnonymousOctober 13th 2014.

Might as well ask for Egg and Chips in Manchester House

AnonymousOctober 14th 2014.

unfortunately Cortado wasn't on the menu either so would have also been refused under their strict rules

Andrew JonesOctober 14th 2014.

Good to have a few decent coffee places here now, long overdue. Tried all these and I think Grindmaster does the best. Caffeine & Co used to be excellent but I think their coffee and service have slipped after opening the Spinningfields branch. Mug mentioned above do free pieces of toast with their coffees!

AnonymousOctober 14th 2014.

The best place is eastern block on Stevenson square. Really good service and reasonably priced.

EmmerageOctober 14th 2014.

FIG AND SPARROW! Also, surprisingly perhaps, Java at Oxford Station - they make the claim of best flat white this side of Melbourne - bit of a stretch, but at least it actually comes in a (small) cup, rather than a latte glass.

Hero
ShannonDOctober 15th 2014.

How lovely to have such a lovely selection of tea and coffee houses. You missed a few good'n's out of this review but I see others have mentioned them above. Chris Coffee is a bit too clinical, looks like a dentists, so I don't think I'll be going in there :-?

AnonymousOctober 15th 2014.

Fig and Sparrow is lovely. Despite the typical NQ aloofness North Tea Power does the best coffee. Brilliantly non- bitter. Pot Kettle Black is a great addition.

SelinaOctober 17th 2014.

Takk is really good! North Tea Power has the worst customer service ever I don't know what people rave on about and the coffee is average. Grindsmith now they have got it going on! Such an oasis down there I could sit for hours, the flat whites are fantastic and the presentation is brilliant, they really obviously care about what they are doing and serving!

MCR Cuture VultureDecember 8th 2014.

Tried a couple of these but not all yet. I think I will visit all of these and give them them all a once over, too many trendy coffee shops at least one of them must be good at a decent price.

Paul EbsworthJanuary 11th 2015.

Has anybody tried Bexters in Boothstown, Worsley??? try it your in for a rare treat. Food is amazing and coffees pretty good too.

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