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If the last 18 months have made anything apparent, it’s that we need to support local businesses. It’s been a trying time for the Manchester cafes, as well as the whole hospitality industry, and there’s simply no excuse to visit Starbucks ever again.
Manchester is such a fantastic city for independent businesses from boutiques to bars and restaurants to record shops. Whether you’re spending a weekend in Manchester or living here, do I have some Manchester coffee shops for you!
Where to drink the best coffee in Manchester
Like most things independent in Manchester, it’s all about the Northern Quarter. This area close to the city centre is known for street art, record shops, live music venues and speakeasy-style bars.
If you’re looking for quirky coffee shops in Manchester with excellent coffee, head straight to the NQ!
Read next: Where to find street art in NQ, Manchester
In this Manchester coffee guide, I’ll share the best cafes in the Northern Quarter, up-and-coming Ancoats and other parts of town…
1. Foundation – widest variety of speciality coffee in Manchester
The first coffee shop in Manchester I visited remains a favourite. The member of staff didn’t flinch when I quizzed him on the various coffee types and, as a result, I know the difference between a red eye and a black eye, along with other coffee-related trivia.
Coffee: If you’re looking for a huge range of speciality coffees, this is the Manchester cafe for you. Joining the usual lineup are speciality drinks like Vietnamese coffee, matcha lattes, red eyes (drip coffee with espresso), black eyes (drip coffee with double espresso) and bulletproof coffee (laced with butter to caffeinate you faster). Told you I learnt all the types 😉
Food: Foundation serve all the avo brunches you’d expect from a cool Northern Quarter cafe, as well as a few inventive creations. At the time of my visit, they were serving pumpkin spiced French toast crumpets with apple butter and white chocolate sauce. Boujee!
Veggie and vegan-friendly? The brunches are quite egg-focussed so there’s not a lot for vegans.
Co-working potential: I can vouch for the Portland Street cafe as an excellent co-working spot. In the morning and even during lunch, it was quiet with lots of people using laptops.
Address: There are three cafes, Whitworth Street, Portland Street and Lever Street.
Opening hours: Check the cafes’ opening times on the website.
2. Another Heart to Feed – stylish venue
The minute I stepped into Another Heart to Feed, I was sold. This ambient cafe has exposed brick walls, a well-stocked wine rack, wooden floors, marble tables and a sofa running the width of the cafe.
Coffee: This is another Manchester cafe with a huge range of drinks. Choose from batch brew coffee, macchiatos, cortados, flat whites, cappuccinos, lattes and mochas, or non-caffeine options like Moroccan mint tea, vanilla rooibos and lemongrass and ginger.
Specials include beetroot, turmeric and matcha lattes, chai, Vietnamese coffee and kombucha.
Food: AHTF have a great range of brunch dishes like shakshuka, eggs on sourdough, croissant French toast, sweet apple tacos with raspberry and pistachio, bibimbap, Turkish eggs… the list goes on! For a tasty homemade bake, try the cherry Bakewell blondie!
Veggie and vegan-friendly? There’s more for veggies than vegans but a few of the dishes can be made vegan.
Co-working potential: The Wi-Fi was strong but since you’re sharing a sofa with the next table and the music is quite loud, it was slightly distracting. I think this is a better Manchester cafe for socialising than working.
Address: 10 Hilton Street. There’s also a second cafe at 220 Burton Road in Didsbury.
Opening hours: 8am-midnight, Mon-Fri; 9am-midnight, Sat & Sun.
3. Takk – cool Northern Quarter cafe
Takk is one of the most popular Manchester coffee shops for good reason. This Scandinavian-style coffee shop in the Northern Quarter is an independent roastery with moody lighting and quirky wall art.
Currently, you scan the barcode on your table to order via your phone.
Coffee: Takk has an ethical approach to coffee, sourcing its espresso from El Salvador. Try the ever-changing guest blends, espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites. They don’t have quite the volume of coffee options as Foundation or Another Heart to Feed but who REALLY needs a beetroot latte, anyway?
Food: They use specialist meat, dairy and vegetable producers to make a brunch of tasty brunch dishes like brioche French toast, lemon ricotta pancakes, huevos rancheros and njuda & eggs.
Veggie and vegan friendly? There are a few vegan options like veggie njuda and avo/mushroom toast.
Co-work potential: Superb. I like that Takk has a section of sharing tables as well as a cosy corner of smaller ones and desk seating for those with laptops. I worked there during the morning but left at lunchtime as it was getting busy and I’m a mindful cafe worker 😉
Address: 6 Tariff Street. You can also find a Takk Espresso Bar at Hatch market (one of the coolest places to eat in Manchester) and a new branch at Takk University Green, 138 Oxford Road.
Opening times: the main NQ cafe is open from 9am-4pm on weekdays and from 10am on weekends.
4. Trove – cool Ancoats cafe
This light and bright cafe in cool Ancoats specialises in seasonal brunch dishes and sourdough pastries. Oh, and coffee, of course!
Three years ago, there were just a few general stores in the otherwise residential area of Ancoats and, almost overnight, it’s transformed into one of the city’s coolest areas. Set along the canal, Ancoats feels more upmarket than the Northern Quarter with several fine dining restaurants. Luckily, it’s still Manchester which means there’s coffee on every corner.
Coffee: Just excellent batch brews, espressos, Americanos, flat whites, mochas and lattes.
Food: Porridge, granola, kimchi toasties, bacon sandwiches and a couple of poached egg dishes.
Vegan friendly? Yes, there’s a full vegan fry up. Oat milk costs an extra 40p, though, which seems a little tight.
Co-working potential: There aren’t many tables and it gets busy, especially on weekends. Best to work elsewhere.
Address: Cotton Field Wharf, 8 New Union Street.
Opening times: Weds-Fri, 8am-4pm; Sat & Sun, 9am-4pm.
5. Fig + Sparrow – classic NQ coffee shop
If there’s a cafe in Manchester that epitomises the Northern Quarter spirit, it’s Fig + Sparrow. Speciality coffee, abundant baked goods, millennial-dream brunches, what else is needed? If it’s a minimalist feel with shabby-chic wooden tables, it ticks all the hipster boxes.
Fig + Sparrow is run by two sisters, Laura and Hannah, who serve fantastic coffee and food, plus a variety of homeware items and craft goods produced by local creatives. You can even pick up takeaway cups made from recycled coffee husks leftover from production.
Coffee: They serve all your classic coffees which look as good as they taste. For non-coffee drinkers, there’s a range of loose leaf teas.
Food: Eggs, avocado, sourdough, French toast… Are we in the Northern Quarter or are we in the Northern Quarter?! For lunch, there are sandwiches, salads and soups. Finally, why not take home chocolate stocked by Cocco Chocolatier? Flavours include salted caramel, passionfruit dark chocolate and lavender milk chocolate.
Veggie and vegan friendly? A bunch of the sandwiches and salads are vegan.
Co-working potential: It’s more of a social cafe but you may get lucky if you grab a seat at the window bar. This doubles up as the perfect spot for people-watching.
6. Federal – best brunch cafe in Manchester
This Antipodean-style cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter was opened by a British-Portuguese couple. The origin of the Aussie vibes remains unknown but one thing’s for sure: they can rival any brunch cafe in Sydney or Melbourne.
Coffee: Although it was brunch that originally drew me to Federal a few years back, they also serve some of the best coffee in Manchester. From flat whites to matcha lattes, they know the drill.
Food: For brunch, this is one of my favourite cafes in Manchester. The halloumi & shrooms dish is ideal for cheese lovers like myself, then there are Turkish eggs and, for those with a sweet tooth, French toast with mascarpone and salted caramel.
If you’re reading this on a Sunday morning, RUN like the wind to Federal as the queues reach around the corner. Don’t let this be the brunch that got away!
Veggie and vegan friendly? Not overly. You’ll have to go healthy with the granola, cherry porridge or an acai bowl.
Co-working potential: It’s more of a social cafe, especially at weekends.
Address: 9 Nicholas Croft. There’s now also a second cafe serving coffee in Deansgate.
7. Chapter One Books – best co-working cafe in Manchester
Chapter One Books is an independent cafe and bookstore on Lever Street beside Mala Secret Garden food court. What started as a family business based on a love of books has become of the coolest cafes in the Northern Quarter – but not in a pretentious way.
Chapter One has lots of quirks including a fountain in the entrance. There are comfy sofas, communal tables and proper desks (highly superior to a window bar). It was approaching Halloween when I visited and the whole place was decked out with spooky details. I get the feeling they have a lot of fun with the decor.
As it was busy during my visit, I didn’t get many photos so you’ll have to head there and check it out for yourself.
Coffee: As well as all your usual offerings, they have a huge range of teas from chai to berry, rooibos, cherry, vanilla and mint. The speciality drinks include matcha, hot chocolate and Manchester fog (Earl grey, vanilla and coconut milk topped with chocolate).
Food: there’s a great selection of cakes including red velvet, salted caramel and banoffee pie.
Veggie and vegan friendly? They have some unusual options like avocado and courgette cake, plus gluten-free choices, too.
Address: 19 Lever Street.
Opening times: 10am-9pm, daily.
8. Pot Kettle Black – prettiest cafe in Manchester
What’s this, a Manchester coffee shop NOT in the Northern Quarter? They do exist.
Although there’s also a branch in Angel Gardens just north of the NQ, the Pot Kettle Black cafe inside Barton Arcade steals the show in terms of aesthetics. This Victorian shopping arcade just off St Anne’s Square is a Grade II listed building retaining its original tiled floors and glass ceilings.
This photo-worthy place is worth a visit whether you’re hunting for coffee in Manchester or not. If you are, kill two birds with one stone by sipping the perfect flat white at PKB and maybe tucking into some baked goods, too.
Coffee: Antipodean coffee is the name of the game. Rather than coffee based on convenience, they make delivering on quality their main mission. Paying homage to the birthplace of the Flat White and Long Black, they serve all your speciality Aussie coffees as well as your typical Italian ones.
Food: The menu comprises brunch dishes, salads and baked goods.
Veggie and vegan friendly? This is one of the best brunch cafes in Manchester for vegans serving bircher muesli, coconut porridge, Asian scrambled tofu on sourdough and plenty of vegan brownies and other bakes. For coffee, choose between soya and almond milk.
Co-work potential: Not too bad if you grab a window seat, but not the best.
Address: Barton Arcade, 48 Barton Square.
Opening times: 9am-4pm daily.
9. Idle Hands – best baked goods!
I have to say this might be my favourite Manchester coffee shop after Foundation. Idle Hands is a sunny, quiet cafe in the Northern Quarter ideal for catch-ups and co-working. The other reason to visit is their spectacular range of sweet and savoury pies.
Coffee: Idle Hands use ethical, sustainably-sourced Elsewhere Coffee from Ethiopia, Brazil and Uganda. All the drinks on the menu look good but I can personally vouch for the iced latte.
Food: Although they serve a decent selection of brunch dishes, the desserts and pies are the highlight. They change all the time so check out their Instagram. Past bakes have included cherry Bakewell pie, cookie dough pie, pecan pie and salted chocolate pie.
Co-working potential: Excellent! Like Takk, this is another Manchester coffee shop that separates shared tables and desk seats. I perched at the window bar, got some work done and tucked into vegan cherry Bakewell pie. Another day in Manchester well spent!
Veggie and vegan friendly? There’s a huge range of vegan pies which I can confirm are delicious.
10. Just Between Friends Coffee
What this tiny cafe on Tib Street lacks in size, it makes up for with coffee that packs a punch. With red brick walls, potted cacti and a wooden window bar, JBFC is suited and booted in hipster cafe uniform.
Coffee: they source everything from Assembly Coffee who use high-quality coffee and precise roasting methods to achieve the perfect taste. Sip coffee at the cafe or buy bags of roasted beans and coffee-brewing equipment to take home.
Food: Baked goods include chocolate banana bread and cinnamon swirls. Yum.
Vegan friendly? All the coffees can be made with oat milk.
Co-working potential: It’s a bit small. You’ll feel like you’re taking up space if more than a few guests arrive.
Address: 56 Tib Street. There’s also a new Ancoats coffee shop in Beehive Mill, Jersey Street.
Opening times: 8am-4pm, weekdays, from 8.30am on weekends.
11. Ezra & Gil – busy Manchester cafe
I’ll give Ezra & Gil a quick mention as it’s more of a restaurant than a cosy Manchester coffee shop. Although they serve decent coffee and baked goods, as well as a huge range of decadent brunch dishes, I don’t rate them highly after they told me they needed the table back after 1.5 hours.
Hey, I get it, not everyone wants to be a co-working spot. But if I’d ordered a pricey brunch or been catching up with a friend, I’d have been pretty annoyed to be booted out after 90 minutes!
Visit to socialise rather than work and check out the brunch menu which includes everything from smashed pumpkin on toast to lemon cheesecake French toast and chorizo & sweet potato hash.
Veggie and vegan friendly? They have a few vegan pasta and brunch dishes but not many.
Co-working potential: Never again.
Address: 20 Hilton Street and 49 Peter Street.
Opening times: 8am-6pm (Peter Street) and 8am-8pm weekdays and ’til 7pm weekends (Hilton Street).
12. Ancoats Coffee Co – hidden coffee shop in Manchester
Saving the best ’til last, Ancoats Coffee Co is one of my favourite coffee shops in Manchester. It’s hidden away inside the old Royal Mills, an early-twentieth-century cotton mill in Ancoats.
Coffee: The beans are roasted onsite courtesy of a 6kg Giesen roaster. They source their coffee with sustainability in mind, connecting directly with farmers and producers to ensure their product is Rainforest Alliance Certified™ or Organic Certified.
Sustainability continues to the roasting stage when they compost used husks and donate imperfect batches to local charities.
Food: It’s a simple, sustainable menu of sandwiches, soups and baked goods.
Veggie and vegan friendly? Try the hummus and falafel sandwich or the vegan brownie.
Co-working potential: One of the best. I was left to my own devices and didn’t feel rushed to leave.
Address: 9 Royal Mill, 17 Redhill Street. They’ve also just opened a new branch at 111 Piccadilly.
Opening times: 9am-5pm, daily.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you’re feeling clued up on Manchester coffee and have a ball drinking it!
More Northern England blogs:
- Where to find street art in Manchester
- 19 best day trips from Manchester
- How to spend a perfect weekend in Manchester
- 11 cheap eats in Manchester
- Cool restaurants in Manchester for 2021
- How to take a Liverpool day trip
- What to do in Liverpool during winter
- How to spend a weekend in the Lake District
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TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING THE UK
Guide books – LP always get my seal of approval. Use the latest copy of Lonely Planet England.
Getting there & around by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Car hire – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals and campers in the UK (and all around the world).
For UK trains, I use Trainline. The search feature allows you to compare prices with other modes of transport.
For buses, I use busbud. It’s the only site that compares UK coaches and buses. Find London to Manchester journeys for £1!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
Browse UK tours and activities on GetYourGuide.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
See all my suggestions on my resources page.