Manchester, like any major UK city, has a branch of one of the major coffee chains on almost every street. Some streets have several chains. Imagine my delight at being asked to seek out some of Manchester’s independent coffee shops.
On an overcast, non-descript Manchester afternoon I went on the hunt for caffeine! I can’t quite believe that I’m going to start with a Victorian tearoom, but they serve coffee, so I will.
Richmond Tea Rooms, Richmond Street
A friend introduced me to the Richmond Tea Rooms a number of years ago, and I’ve never looked back. Located just a few seconds walk away from Canal Street in Manchester’s Gay Village, the Richmond Tea Rooms are down a quiet street. From the outside, it doesn’t look like a tearoom. Come to think of it, what does a tearoom look like from the outside? Don’t let looks deceive you because when you enter, you’re transported to the heart of a fairy tale. This Alice in Wonderland-themed establishment is outstanding. Often, the term “hidden gem” is overused, but not in this case.
Richmond serves a wide range of loose-leaf teas and yes, coffee, along with a wide range of freshly baked cakes and pastries. I’ve always found their staff friendly.
If you’re looking for afternoon tea or coffee, give the Richmond Tea Rooms a try.
North Tea Power, Tib Street, Northern Quarter
I love the name North Tea Power; I think it compliments the Northern Powerhouse nicely. Set in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter, North Tea Power’s menu boasts an impressive range of coffees brewed from their own Deerhunter Espresso which, according to their website, is 100% Kenya Othaya Chinga and tastes superb!
Their wide coffee menu includes usual favourites such as latte, espresso, and flat white, but with a few different drinks thrown into the mix including the Affogato, which, for the record, is food heaven – coffee and ice cream!
To accompany your coffee, there’s a breakfast and brunch menu. I’m always envious when friends check into here on Facebook without inviting me. One to visit if you’re passing the Northern Quarter.
Java, Oxford Road Station, Station Approach
I’d walked past Java dozens of times before I first visited; located very close to Oxford Road Station, it’s easy to walk by on the busy commute. To ignore it would be a big mistake.
The founders of Java were inspired by the coffee scene in Eastern Europe and setup their first coffee shop in Manchester back in 1996, a year later Java was born. Java prides itself in sourcing locally.
I love the surroundings: the table area is surrounded by Italian ingredients, display bottles, and a glass collection that would probably even interest Andy the Antiques Roadshow glass expert. When you consider that Java is located close to a station and just off one of Manchester’s busiest roads, it’s nice and tranquil inside.
The food offering is impressive too, from a range of pastries to Greek mezze. I tried out the strawberries and cream muffin with my latte.
There’s also a wide range of beers and wines, and if you fancy brining the kids, homemade milkshake – my son recommends chocolate and banana, he couldn’t decide so had some of both!
Pot Kettle Black, Barton Arcade, Deansgate
I’ve been aware of Pot Kettle for a while but hadn’t tried until today. I should explain – I’m a Rugby League fan and Pot Kettle, or PKB as it’s branded, is owned by St. Helens player and BBC pundit Jon Wilkin along with his former St. Helens teammate Mark Flanagan, who now plays for Salford.
Putting aside team loyalties, I was excited to visit PKB and I wasn’t disappointed.
Nestled among the clothes shops, hairdressers, and delis in this busy part of town, is this fantastic coffee shop. When you walk in, there’s a sense of a very hip and vibrant place with lots of space, lots to look at and a variety of table sizes and places to sit. Unlike many coffee shops, certainly unlike the major chains, PKB has table service.
I found somewhere comfortable to sit and the waitress was over very quickly. I ordered a latte and asked (out of curiosity) if they do coffee syrups. I was told no, but they do offer boozy coffee. Sadly, I was driving so I stuck with my latte and was not disappointed. This was the best coffee I’ve ever had in Manchester. Presented on a small tray, in a glass, with a chocolate stick wafer and a glass of water, I was impressed from the moment it came to the table. The coffee sometimes gets lost in the milk when you are drinking a latte, but not at PKB – there was a nice mix of the two.
There’s also an impressive food menu, from tofu to pork belly, impressive in more ways than one – the presentation of the menu has been well thought out, and even the menu holder is branded with the PKB Manchester name.
On a piece of thin transparent paper next to the menu is the cocktail menu… There was an Easter cocktail containing Baileys, Nutella and other delicious looking ingredients. It had me at Nutella, but, getting behind the wheel, I resisted. I’ll definitely be back to try a boozy coffee and I’d highly recommend PKB. If you’re in a rush, they even have a serving hatch.
Proof, then, of a thriving independent coffee scene in Manchester that you simply must be a part of.