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The 12 best coffee shops and cafés in Manchester

Need a caffeine fix? These are the best coffee shops and cafés in Manchester

Rob Martin
Lucy Lovell
Written by
Rob Martin
Contributor
Lucy Lovell
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The art of a good coffee is something we can all appreciate. And we’re not just talking about the fancy shapes adorning the frothy top.

Café culture in 
Manchester is booming and that includes the ever-increasing desire for a decent coffee. Fortunately, we have as much choice as the types of coffee and, indeed, the kinds of milk you can have, from soya to oat to cow. Manchester has everything from greasy spoons with mugs of jet-black filter to quirky brunch spots with fabulous flat whites to brilliant bars serving killer cortados.

In fact, some neighbourhoods, like the Northern Quarter and Ancoats, have thrived in part because of the demand for places to sit back, sip, nibble and relax. Here’s our guide to the best coffee shops and cafés in Manchester.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Manchester

Best coffee shops and cafés in Manchester

Two floors of Grade II-listed Victorian finery – including a stunning glass ceiling – make up Mackie Mayor (named after Ivie Mackie, a local alderman who opened the venue in 1858 as a meat market). It’s a vibrant food and drink market in the Northern Quarter. And many come for the great food and drink offering but Wolfhouse Coffee offers some of the best java around. Dive into a range of espresso-based bevs and fancy pour-overs.

This dream of a café in the Northern Quarter is perfect for anyone who has ever freelanced or needed a place to plug in and crack on. It’s open all day, so if you want a light pastry and a strong coffee early on or if you’re looking for a vegan lunch or a pasta bowl, you’re covered. There’s a menu for kids too and it’s an easy venue to spend far too much time in.

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Sure, Prestwich may not rival Ancoats when it comes to food and drink, but there’s a lovely bunch of indie joints that are well worth the 20-minute tram from the city centre. Our favourite is All The Shapes, a casual bar-restaurant-café serving up fun, family-friendly vibes. Its speciality coffee is best enjoyed with a wedge of cake on the pretty, sun-soaked terrace.

A Northern Quarter independent coffee shop, Fig and Sparrow not only does a great beverage and delicious food, you can also shop for lovely things while you’re there, from small gift items to glassware to art. It’s dog-friendly too – just make sure they don’t knock anything over (it’s not exactly a big place).

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Lupo sits on an industrial estate in Prestwich – not the most obvious or beautiful opf places – could easily be mistaken for a garage lock-up if it weren’t for the outside seating. Inside, it’s a different world, with the superb quality of the food on offer as surprising as the interior. 

Grindsmith
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  • Coffeeshops

While Salford’s Grindsmith is an easy one to miss, excellent coffee and chilled-out surroundings ensure that many who do find it make a note to come back. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign back in 2013 by mobile coffee heavyweights Peter Gibson and Luke Tomlinson, the eco-friendly wood-clad pod does at first look like a laboratory, with multiple coffee syphons emitting wonderful aromas.

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When family-run café-bakery Trove opened in the small suburb of Levenshulme, it changed the Manchester coffee game. Now it’s expanded to not one but three sites, adding Ancoats and Marble Street venues. But expansion hasn’t meant any loss in quality and Trove continues to be one of the very best places for coffee in the city. Or is that three of the best?

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  • Coffeeshops

Takk is a love letter to Scandi coffee houses, and it’s been serving up hygge vibes to savvy Mancunians for years. It now has three outlets across the city, but we still love its Northern Quarter branch the most. It serves guest coffees from Europe and beyond: the house brew is a single origin from Finca Miravalle in El Salvador.

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Bright, friendly and with stacks upon stacks of homemade doughnuts: there aren’t many places we’d rather spend an afternoon than Siop Shop. If you can drag your gaze away from the perfectly plump sweet treats – the dreamy flavours include millionaire shortbread and chai topped with pecan nuts – then there’s a stonking coffee selection to explore, too.

This laid-back Northern Quarter café has a loyal following – not least for its incredibly moreish cream pies. Idle Hands is also loopy about coffee, offering a selection of rare filters from guest roasters. Nordic-style beans are your best shout; regular names include Munich-based Man Versus Machine and London’s Dark Arts Coffee.

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Somewhere between trad greasy spoon and trendy bar, Koffee Pot is a Manchester institution. It’s moved a few times in the city centre, but has now settled on Oldham Street. The vibe is about as Northern Quarter as it gets here: street art on the walls, hot Vimto by the mug and huge, no-nonsense fry-ups. There’s a pleasingly no-frills brew, too, locally roasted by Ancoats Coffee. Filter coffee is just £1.60 and comes served in a proper mug.

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This great gaff opened in 2010, making it one of the OG craft coffee houses in Manchester. Its uber-cool site is often lined with freelancers on laptops, but it’s a brilliant shout for a coffee break if you’re in the city centre. A huge selection of loose leaf will keep tea fans happy, while espresso-based cups – from the punchy piccolo to the silky long black – are always exquisite. Long live NTP.

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