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Moocow Coffee review

Sarah Tierney finds a dwarf amongst coffee giants on John Dalton Street

Published on September 30th 2009.

Moocow Coffee review

Having been spoilt for choice for quirky coffee and cake places in the Northern Quarter, Confidential now finds itself in the slicker Spinningfields where would-be upmarket chains such as Pret a Manger, Eat and Carluccio's battle for your daily treats (and more often than not, lose out to Greggs).

There's little to say about the coffee, apart from that it tasted like every other coffee in a paper cup sold in take-out places: mild not rich, subtle not bitter, as memorable as water. We ordered it to check it was alright, and no surprises, it was.

Moocow, a tiny, coffee-centred outlet off John Dalton Street is one of the few independents in the area, and it's trying its best to inject personality into the area with attention-grabbing orange and black retro chairs outside, fine art on the walls, and a collection of designer soft drinks in the fridge.

Occupying a space barely big enough to milk a goat, never mind a cow, it's overshadowed in the size stakes by the big league competition. There's no counter separating the punters from the proprietor, giving it an informal feel, like having a pal make you a drink in their kitchen, then brazenly asking you to pay for it.

Moocow's miniature proportions make it more suited to take-outs than drink-ins – though the seats outside, some covered, are an option if the weather's fair. On our visit, we settled ourselves there and sampled the homemade rhubarb and custard cake (£1.85) and ginger biscuit (£1.10) with a latte (£1.85) and Earl Grey tea (£1.10). The baking is done by Mikee, one half of the partnership who own the business (and the creator of some of the paintings on the wall) and he's doing a fine job of it.

The cake was light and moist with a tangy topping of rhubarb, while the cow-shaped ginger biscuit (with an orange icing face) was delicate rather than fiery with a satisfying crunch. There were also homemade cookies and date and walnut cake for sale. It's a decent amount of choice considering it's a small kiosk rather than a sprawling Starbucks.

There's little to say about the coffee, apart from that it tasted like every other coffee in a paper cup sold in take-out places: mild not rich, subtle not bitter, as memorable as water. We ordered it to check it was alright, and no surprises, it was...alright.

A more interesting beverage was the Firefly Detox soft drink (£1.60), which my friend bought to remedy a two-week hangover. I thought it tasted healthy. She said that's why she didn't like it. Notes of Lucozade and cough medicine competed with the lemon, lime and ginger. The bottle revealed sarsaparilla as the culprit – it cleanses apparently, though probably not if you only have two sips. Still, as detox drinks go, it's more appetising than the concoction I caught another friend drinking recently – lemon juice, paprika, and salt.

On return to the office, it felt like we hadn't really done Moocow justice by ordering the dullest hot drinks possible, when there were delights such as vanilla chai, milkshakes and Italian thick hot chocolate on the menu. On a return visit, the hot chocolate (£1.75) proved to be a winner. Lynda Moyo, our Body Confidential editor, who has an impressive knowledge of city centre hot chocolates, said it was “superb”, beating Nero's and even comparing favourably with Chocolate Cafe's version.

This time, I tried a 'moo-nilla' (£1.75) a vanilla shake made with syrup and cold milk, resulting in a thinner drink than the ice cream and chocolate bar shakes sold at Mandy Moo's and M1lkshake. If you want a thirst-quenching, sweet shake, rather than a thick indulgent, filling shake, this is an option.

Moocow also have an odd-looking, little van that they take to events and festivals. Like the outlet, it has an unconventional, fun vibe to it which will make it stand out nicely at festivals. They're also getting involved in Salford and Manchester's respective food and drink festivals (they'll be selling Moocow hot cocktails on Thursday 1 October as part of the latter).

This place is very big on self-promotion, with Moocow T-shirts, cup holders, and mugs sporting their Picasso-esque bovine logo available to purchase. It'll be interesting to see whether customers will buy into the Moocow brand – do people want to identify themselves with a particular coffee vendor, even a funky, independent, local one like this?

Confidential received requests from readers to review Moocow, suggesting it's already built up a following. We can see why it's popular, but ultimately, it's a coffee kiosk, selling coffee, and is as interesting as such a place can possibly be. I'll go there for a hot drink and a slice of sponge cake, but I probably won't be buying the T-shirt.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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

Other FriendSeptember 30th 2009.

It's called 'the Mastercleanse'. I wouldn't recommend it. This place looks nice though. Great review, Tyranny x

eugSeptember 30th 2009.

full support to the independents. rock on

the wandererSeptember 30th 2009.

up the independents. I like Moocow, well located, quirky & reasonably priced. Would love to see what they could do with a larger premises

CCSeptember 30th 2009.

been there a couple of times and I would highly recommend it - I had to wait 5 minutes for a Coffee once and I got it for free - We need to look after our home grown independents!!CC

JBSeptember 30th 2009.

I still don't think you have done those boys at MOOCOW justice, If that place was in London or any other 'cultural' city it would be leading the way in coffee outlets! As for the coffee... It is of far greater quality than the review suggests... 'memorable as water' ?? Where DO you buy your water from??? Best still a great reasonaly priced coffee from an increasingly rare Independent!!

GinoSeptember 30th 2009.

Hmmm love MooCow coffee, will def be at Salford Food and Drink Fayre to check out what speciailities they'll have on offer!

Donald PestoSeptember 30th 2009.

Do they sell Nescafe Gold Blend?

Moocow fanSeptember 30th 2009.

I visited MOOcow yesterday and what a fab, fun and rather funky place it is! Service is personal and coffee is quality. Look out for the limited edition magenta MOObiscuits at the Salford Food and Drink Fayre on Saturday!

The Whalley RangerSeptember 30th 2009.

Love the place! Always wondered why you have to pay £2+ for a cup of coffee nowadays...

MrsJouseSeptember 30th 2009.

Funnily enough I went there for the first time this morning. Mocha was tremendous and lovingly prepared. All take note - tonight they are serving take-out alcoholic hot cocktails, and very, very good they look too!

jbSeptember 30th 2009.

spotted the place a while ago. finally managed to get a coffee from there this morning.i ordered a mocha(my usual) & it was perfect one of the best mochas ive had in a while.i used to love suburb on deansgate R.I.P. ive tried other places to fill the void nero but that has gone down the pan too much froth and inconsistency.pret make a good mocha tastes nice & strong.dont even mention starbucks.but now after tasting moocow i think i maybe getting my morning fix from them from now on!!

Andrea & FranSeptember 30th 2009.

We love his drinks - especially the strawberry milkshake with marshmellow bits and the friendly reception we get when we go in - Well done Mikee - keep up the good work!

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