English 5 o’clock tea? No, that’s so passé. Especially in Manchester!
Manchester is every coffee lover’s dream! Ever since the third-wave coffee movement became more popular, cafés in Manchester have been growing like mushrooms after the rain and now the city serves the best cups around.
From big mugs of deep dark filter coffee and strong espressos to creamy lattes and oat milk flat whites with perfect microbubbles.
There are so many cafés in Manchester where you can feed your coffee hunger, that the choice can be quite overwhelming.
Luckily there’s one area of the city, where, without walking miles, you can even visit most of the coffee shops in one day. If you can handle coffee jitters.
The Northern Quarter – this creative hub is home to quirky stores, cool bars, restaurants, independent cafés and coffee shops.
It’s not big, as the whole of Manchester really, but I’d say you can find everything you need to feed your heart and soul…and your belly.
The cafés I picked for you are all located in the Northern Quarter. Well, most of them.
I decided on x cafés, that I would give my life for. Ok, let’s not be so dramatic, but those are the ones I visit the most often and I vouch for the quality of their food and coffee.
They all have this minimalistic, hipster vibe, but it doesn’t mean they’re not cosy, prices won’t break the bank and the best thing is, that they are all independent (I think). No chains allowed!
So here are the top 6 must-visit cafes in Manchester, England.
Foundation Coffee House
Red Eye, Black Eye, Dead Eye…no, those are not nicknames of spies. Those are types of coffee available in Foundation. Hope you’re intrigued.
Foundation is a place where I’ve spent the most hours. Apart from the great variety of delicious, speciality coffee and tasty food, you can also find in Foundation a great space to work.
And I should really say: “Foundations”, because there are 3 locations in Manchester. FDN is one of Manchester’s largest independent coffee shops, as a company and in size.
You can literally spend the whole day there, enjoying minimalistic yet cosy interiors, sipping their luxurious flat whites or flavourful tea, nibbling on avo toast or one of the tasty cakes, while getting this work done. Good workflow and free WiFi guaranteed.
Just between friends
The name of this café couldn’t be more accurate. When you go there, you know that this is exactly where you’ll end up: just between friends.
Apart from delicious coffee (the best oat milk flat white in town) and tasty sweet and savoury snacks, the lovely owner and chatty baristas will make you feel like you’re at home.
For me, Just between friends offers the best atmosphere from all the mentioned coffee shops. I really liked going there on a typical rainy
Manchester Saturday or Sunday, squeezing into a cosy space and watching the baristas create coffees.
If you were lucky, you could even meet the “café dog”, a cute sausage dog
called Wolfie. And in the summer, you just have to try their Affogato made with homemade ice cream.
Unfortunately, now, because of Coronavirus, Just between friends in the Northern Quarter is more of a takeaway, with some secret outdoor seating behind the cafe.
Or in other words, donut heaven. If you like donuts, you can’t miss this place!
Previously working from a basement of a bar as a bakery called: “Blawd”, the wonderful Welsh bakers made a name for themselves making some of the bests cakes and donuts in Manchester.
Now in their first café you can try their artisanal, incredibly delicious donuts,
cakes and sandwiches. And let’s not forget about freshly brewed aromatic coffee.
Siop Shop offers as well a great selection of vegetarian food and vegan donuts! But if you’re a vegan, you have to be quick. Vegan donuts sell out super fast.
The donuts are quite pricey (around £3,20 for one), especially compared to back home in Poland, but if you want to treat yourself, this is the place to go.
That was the first coffee shop I ever visited in Manchester and after trying their insanely delicious brownie, I knew I’d be coming back.
Nordic-inspired Takk was a result of travels through Scandinavia and Iceland and a tribute to the Icelandic people and their love for coffee.
The owners wanted to create a welcoming space to work, meet and talk. And they did a great job. Takk offers a great selection of tea, coffee, pastries and a brunch/lunch menu.
And as a result of being inspired by Scandinavia, I’d say that Takk in the Northern Quarter provides the cosiest atmosphere from all the places mentioned. But there are 2 other Takk locations/outlets you can visit.
It’s technically not in Northern Quarter, where I promised all the cafés in Manchester will be, but it’s close enough.
Ancoats is a new up and coming neighbourhood in Manchester, separated from the Northern Quarter with a street. But Trove, yes… Trove is my “go to” brunch place!
This family-run café-bakery and super polite staff and an interior that you could describe as minimal meets rustic obviously had to make this list.
Their thoughtfully curated seasonal menu, freshly baked sourdough, homemade chutneys, cakes and pastries will blow your taste buds away.
Add to this flavourful Earl Grey tea or one of their delicious coffees and you have a perfect Sunday brunch experience.
This is technically not a coffee shop. And it’s also not in the Northern Quarter.
Pollen is a “Sourdough & Viennoiserie” bakery. That’s what they call themselves, and if you have a problem with understanding what that means as I did, it’s an artisan bakery and patisserie.
If that is still too much – it’s a place where they bake delicious sourdough bread, make the best cake in Manchester, pastries and brew aromatic coffee.
Pollen was born from a love of great food and started out as a takeaway, located in a railway arch underneath Manchester’s main station.
Now it’s a big, yet minimalistic, fully functioning bakery and café, located on the canal in Ancoats, that attracts people from Manchester and even from all over the country.
Despite not being the cheapest place (I’d even say it’s quite expensive) I’ve never seen Pollen empty and I’m there almost every Friday to buy bread for the weekend.
But the delicious bread and pastries, incredibly looking sandwiches, thoughtfully put together brunches and lunches and aromatic, freshly brewed coffee are all worth it.
As a special treat, you sometimes get to see the extremely fluffy chow chow, “café dog” Maru, who hangs around the bakery.
Hope you enjoyed my mini guide to, according to me, the top 6 must-visit cafés in Manchester city centre.
Every place I mentioned here offers quality coffee and delicious food, so no matter which place you pick, you won’t be disappointed. So prepare your taste buds for flavour nirvana and enjoy!
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About the author
Hi, I’m Aga. I’m Polish born, but I’ve already lived in Germany and England and I’m planning on adding more places to that list. I run a travel blog where with a little humour I share my travel experiences, as well as tips and tricks with the hope to encourage you to visit beautiful places in this world. And since there’s no Planet B, I’m on the mission to make the world a better place by promoting eco-friendly and sustainable ways of living.