A great thing about those cold days? A steaming hot cup of coffee at some of the best cafes in Manchester this city has to offer.
New York has Williamsburg, Los Angeles has Silverlake and Manchester has the Northern Quarter. There are a number of cafes in Manchester, restaurants and bars throughout the city’s artistic centre, as well as the largest concentration of independent cafés and coffee shops in the city. If you’re a vegan or a coffee lover, our list of cafés has plenty to give.
Fig + Sparrow
The front section of Fig + Sparrow sells different kinds of goods such as bags, candles, cards and prints. From the street, all you can really see of a seating area in the window and outdoor seating, which is a good vantage point to look out onto on busy Oldham Street. On entering, it comes as quite a surprise how far the cafe goes back. The furniture is mostly all wooden, including a wooden deer’s head, giving the atmosphere an interesting interplay between rustic and modern. There is a wide selection of teas and coffees, and they stock Trove’s bread which makes for delicious sandwiches.
Oklahoma is one of the Northern Quarter’s most lively cafes and has a gift shop alongside its food and beverages. Established in 1998, Oklahoma has just undergone a makeover, so even if you’ve been there previously, another tour is worth it. Oklahoma is enormous in its entirety, spanning about 2000 square feet of floor area. A large array of coffees, teas, desserts, breakfasts, soups, salads and sandwiches are on sale at the vegetarian café. In the café, in their art-house DVD rental collection, you can search through over 500 titles and take in the diverse items that are for sale in the gift shop. This is what the Northern Quarter is all about.
North Tea Power
With its bold wood and artwork, the interior of North Tea Power represents the food and drink that are on offer: simple and high quality. It provides a broad variety of loose leaf teas and an equally impressive coffee menu, making North Tea Power a must-visit for lovers of both tea and coffee. The employees serve handmade coffee skillfully and during the year they also introduce fresh, experimental creations. Although the beverages are the star of the show, as an accompaniment to your speciality beer, there is also a decent range of food available. The specials vary every day, but on the menu, you should expect to see grilled cheese, salads and broth.
Nordic doesn’t seem the most obvious, with all the styles that might be selected while opening a coffee shop. In the Scandinavian languages, Takk, meaning ‘thank you’, serves as an artistic centre and artisan coffee house, offering Iceland’s hand-roasted and dripped coffee. Takk according to owner Philip Hannaway, not technology is a themed coffee shop but aims to ‘build something that feels Icelandic-a room that feels warm and welcoming; cosy and comfortable that recreates the spirit of downtown Reykjavik.’ The wide wooden tables, free Wi-Fi, and Scandinavian craft, architecture and travel book range have ensured that Takk has become one of the most popular cafes in Manchester and café of choice for creatives. In Manchester, the artwork, intimate gigs and handmade coffees and sandwiches come together to deliver a little slice of Iceland.
In Altrincham, So Marrakech, modern lifestyle and concept shops offer you the chance to ‘test before you purchase’. Before shopping at the lifestyle shop, you not only get to tuck into authentic Moroccan food and drink, you also get to sample the glassware, dishes, bowls and everything else you could use in the cafe. You can go for the regular coffee order or try ‘Nous Nous’ for the real authentic experience, which is half espresso and half foamed milk.
Federal Cafe & Bar has an assortment of coffees on sale for both drink-in or takeaway, a commonplace among Mancs for both coffee and brunch. But the much-loved cafe often offers Australian favourite Hot Milo, as well as hot beverages such as beetroot latte, turmeric latte and matcha green tea, in addition to their high-quality coffees. It’s a haven for hot beverages, essentially. Federal has two sites across the city.
Pot Kettle Black
Pot Kettle Black, a coffee shop that has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2014, has two Manchester sites, namely Barton Arcade and Spinningfields. Inspired by their friends in Australia and New Zealand, the coffee shop takes pride in the tradition of coffee and plays with just the best beans in the game. The chilled coffee shops offer the city a warm summer feel, and we strongly suggest that you try their bakes, too, if you’re stopping by.
Bright, welcoming, and with stacks upon stacks of baked doughnuts: there are not many places that we would rather spend an afternoon than the Siop Shop. If you can pull your eyes away from the perfectly plump sweet treats, like millionaire shortbread and chai topped with pecan nuts are the dreamy flavours, then there is even a stonking range of coffee to try.
Koffee Pot is a Manchester institution, in between the typical greasy spoon and the trendy bar. It has relocated to the city centre a couple of times but has now focused on Oldham Street. As it gets here, the vibe is around the Northern Quarter: street art on the doors, hot Vimto by the mug, and huge, no-nonsense fry-ups. There’s a pleasingly no-frills brew, roasted by Ancoats Coffee locally. The filter coffee is just £ 1.60 and comes served in a proper mug.
Many cafes in Manchester deliver vegan and vegetarian alternatives, but for tasty food, Earth Café takes the crown. Given the brand, it would come an as little surprise that Earth Café offers 100% gluten-free and vegan products, and for those who don’t want soy milk, the only dairy they offer is hot beverages. Their food is free from preservatives and chemical additives and all items are ethically sourced and predominantly sustainable. Since there is a different street entry for those who do not wish to travel via the centre itself, the café is located inside the Manchester Buddhist Centre.
Expect to wait if you plan to come to Teacup at lunchtime, right after work or at the weekend. This enduringly famous cafe is operated by Mr Scruff, an electronic music maker, DJ and tea lover. The cafe has received a variety of prizes at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards, including the best casual dining experience. A broad variety of loose leaf teas are eligible to sip in or carry home as bagged blends. The hand-roasted coffee comes from Atkinson’s Lancashire Roasters. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available, as well as cakes and other desserts and where possible, all ingredients are Fairtrade or organic.
Nexus Art Café
Nexus Art Café is the only cafe that also serves as a group art venue in the city centre. As it highlights local talent and innovation in a collection of evolving shows, the artwork alone makes the cafe worth the visit. The cafe is part of the Central Methodist Church, the birthplace of Wesleyan Methodism, and the Christian ideals of imagination, fellowship and faith are surrounded by its core ethos, functioning as both a cafe and a community space. The meal consists mostly of salads, jacket potatoes and soup. They are all locally sourced ingredients and include a selection of homemade specials that are made to order.
All of these are our favourite cafes in Manchester and are definitely worth a visit.