Even with café culture firmly embedded in the psyche of the city, coffee continues to enjoy reverential appreciation. There's variety not only in what's being dished out but also the types of places doing the dishing - especially given that the leaf is almost as important as the bean these days. Manchester's restaurants are taking both pretty seriously - and its bars too, in fact. With such a selection comes the difficulty of choosing, so we've put together our pick of the best cafés, tea rooms and coffee shops in Manchester. Go get your fix.
Manchester's coffee shops and cafés
Like the personal sampling room Willy Wonka forgot to build, chocolate haven Bonbon is a Northern Quarter favourite. Serving up a heady mix of chocolates, coffee and luxury, Bonbon is part of the Teacup group (located just down the street). As well as stocking brands like Rococo and Booja Booja, pecan salted praline and stilton and salted caramel truffles are just a couple of the varieties made on site using Valrhona chocolate. The interior has a boutique feel with dark wooden furniture and curious paper bag lamps. Thu-Sun daytimes only.
‘Icelandic coffee house’ may be a narrow niche, but Takk (meaning ‘thanks’) has plenty of fun with it. The inside is characterised by exposed brickwork, graffiti-marked school desks and great coffee. Beans are sourced from a myriad of places, with roasters The Barn Berlin featuring heavily on the roster.
Newly expanded Fig and Sparrow refers to itself as a ‘lifestyle store and coffee bar’, and it's a great place to head for a brew and a gorgeous item for your kitchen. Booths running along side register have opened the space up, while the one-pot stews, and savoury scones offer something different from your standard Northern Quarter eggs and muffins.
Located at the heart of the Northern Quarter, North Tea Power brings together casual chic with a raucous attitude to food and drink. As the name suggests, there’s an intimidating array of loose-leaf teas, with an illuminating coffee menu stacked with guest espressos and seasonal offerings from acclaimed roasters like Has Bean. Cakes, granola and toasties make this an all-day option. Interesting craft beers, too.
Although it’s slightly away from the stronghold of coffee bars in the Northern Quarter, Caffeine & Co’s Spinningfields location doesn’t detract from its popularity. Indeed, on closer inspection, it has its own thing going on. Convention is followed in the minimalist rustic interior while outside garden-style tables and chairs are novel – even if they take some serious strength to manoeuvre. Behind the bar, micro-roastery North Star is on the roster, alongside Square Mile’s seasonal espresso Red Brick, both of which can be sampled in store, with opportunities to buy the beans for yourself and recreate the experience at home.
The Sponge Sisters Urmston café puts great value on locally sourced food and drink, served in a traditional café setting. Try homemade pies, full English breakfasts, jacket potatoes and lunchtime sarnies as well as the famous house cakes. After work, enjoy a local beer or coffee from Manchester’s own ManCoCo roasters at regular quiz nights and LGBT meet ups.
This café by the cathedral brings to mind a scout hut that’s been lovingly decorated by the WI. Amid shabby chic cabinets and red and white china, the toasted sandwiches, cakes and coffees are a draw, as are celebrity owners Yvette Fielding (star of ‘Blue Peter’ and ‘Most Haunted’) and DJ Mr Scruff.
Established by Manchester's very own Mr Scruff, whose love of tea is as strong as his love of music (if not stronger), Teacup is a place where you’ll not only find all manner of tea varieties, but an extensive, expensive cake menu, cocktails, wines and beers, plus a lunch and early evening food, too. There’s more of the same on offer. The team also run cafés at Manchester Museum and Old Granada Studios.
This artsy teahouse is local to the last, drawing on the finest produce in Manchester, some of it conveniently sourced from Didsbury’s wealth of independent suppliers. There’s fine coffee on offer from the likes of Has Bean and the good vibes extend late into the night too.
Had Alice emerged from the rabbit hole in modern day Manchester and found herself pining for a spot of tea, she may well have ended up at Richmond Tea Rooms. Situated on a side street in the Gay Village, the tearoom is possibly more ornate than Buckingham Palace. Options include light meals and breakfasts, ice creams and afternoon teas. Prices are remarkably reasonable too – from £6.95 for tea, scone, cream and jam.
This Northern Quarter institution has moved round the corner from its original Stevenson Square spot - yet Koffee Pot remains the area’s destination of choice for hangover banishing breakfasts. This is no ordinary greasy spoon – its interior features vibrant street art (credit is due to Manchester-based artist Hammo) and spacious red booths, while the full English includes spam, potato cake and black pudding (on the house). The shakshouka and smoked haddock rarebit are reliably good, while tea, filter coffee and hot Vimto are joined by craft beers and Bloody Mary’s behind the bar.
Recently shortlisted as Best Coffee Shop at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards, Tea Hive ticks all the boxes for a mid-morning coffee, hearty lunch or indulgent dose of tea and cake. Both Chorlton and Alexandra Park branches channel the comforting aura of bygone eras with vintage furniture and crockery. Customers include local families tucking into home made beans on toast, doorstop cheddar sandwiches and various takes on eggs; if its value you’re after, The Park menu is little cheaper, with veggie sausage toasties for £3.50.
A neglected suburban high street might not seem the most obvious location for a family-run bakery and café, but it’s Levenshulme where Trove has made its home. Like everything Trove touches, coffee isn’t an afterthought and they favour local brand, Heart and Graft. The setting and crockery are so perfect and well thought out, they could be lifted from a lifestyle blog.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign back in 2013 by mobile coffee heavyweights Peter Gibson and Luke Tomlinson, Grindsmith uses regionally roasted coffee to produce interesting results. Their Deansgate store actively welcomes freelance workers – so grab one of the best coffees in town and get busy.