The best coffee shops have a little bit for everyone and aren’t solely judged on the quality of coffee, although this is an important factor in any coffee shop’s armoury. A good coffee shop has nice food, nice staff, reasonable prices, a good range of hot and cold drinks and most importantly a good atmosphere.
There are 19 Starbucks within the ring road surrounding Manchester! Although nothing especially wrong with Starbucks coffee, any Starbucks shop just has an aura of blandness, they have no character, no defining feature that makes them different or intriguing.
This is where these top 8 coffee shops will stand out! Anyone can make nice coffee but it takes real skill to create a great and exciting atmosphere. They are in no particular order because as everyone knows, choosing a coffee shop is highly subjective and sometimes controversial, but all eight of these coffee shops must be visited if you get a chance!
Takk is the epitome of simplicity. The coffee is strong and is usually served with a glass of water to cool down the bitterness of the taste. Based on a Scandanavian theme, Takk is very relaxed and although often busy, it’s a fantastic place to chill out on a night time. The food is very varied but their open sandwiches are somewhat of a speciality and are usually served on classic wooden slabs (perfect for that edgy Insta post). Because it’s in the Northern quarter, it’s quite a way from where the majority of students live but don’t let that put you off, it’s only a Magic Bus away and is very much worth the trip.
If you’re a fast drinker and eater, then Ziferblat is the place for you. Manchester’s only ‘pay as you stay’ coffee house is set out with board games dotted around on tables and often has live entertainment during evenings. The décor is old fashioned and bordering on antique but the atmosphere is still vibrant and warm. The only thing it can be compared to is when you used to go to your grandparents' house after school and just sink into the ridiculously comfortable sagging sofa. Literally the only thing you pay for is your time, which is probably why the sofas are so comfortable. Different hot drinks and some scrumptious cakes, much better than any you’d find in a chain, are readily available and the coffee menu is entensive. Ziferblat has many fantastic coffee shops in close proximity as it’s located in the Northern quarter but its inventive way of paying makes it one not to be missed.
Now this is a controversial addition to the list. Is it a coffee house? Or is it a tea shop? People who have never been to Richmond would say ‘The clue is in the name, it’s obviously a Tea shop’. However, Richmond also boasts an impressive array of coffees and allows the slightly upper class members of the coffee shop loving community to enjoy a cup of great coffee in plush, ornate surroundings. The classic thing to order at RTR is of course scones for afternoon tea but the club sandwiches are also incredibly tasty. It is a little bit on the expensive side but that is to be expected and if scones and afternoon tea are your thing, the chances are the price isn’t going to put you off too much anyway.
Of all the coffee shops in Manchester, Eighth Day is the best situated. It’s located opposite All Saints Park on Oxford Road. But that’s not the only thing that sets it apart from the rest. You won’t see a single piece of meat in on the premises as it’s strictly a vegetarian/vegan café. This obviously makes it a very popular haunt with vegetarians during busy weekdays. But non-veggie’s should not completely write it off! The food is surprisingly nice and extremely flavoursome and the desserts in particular are divine. The atmosphere in Eighth Day is one of the best in Manchester as it’s usually absolutely rammed with students, which makes it a great place to socialise.
Unlike the rest of this list, it’s actually its food that forces Home Sweet Home into this top 8. It’s an absolute classic for people going on first dates so please try to avoid if you’re feeling very sick or you may be puking into your drink. Home Sweet Home is maybe a little mainstream for the most hipster among us, but has to be visited just for the humungous slices of cake and good authentic coffees as well as edgy world beers. Although the main meals are incredibly good, they’re a bit pricey but the atmosphere is more than worth the price. It also has the added bonus of staying open until midnight meaning it’s a spot that is truly buzzing in the late evenings.
If this was based just on quality of coffee alone the Fig and Sparrow would most definitely be right up there. But it has so much more to offer than just top coffee! It boasts one of the best atmospheres anywhere in Manchester and is constantly absolutely teaming with people. The menu is also very allergy friendly, with lots of gluten free and vegetarian options. The small, intimate space is utilised spectacularly and contributes to the vibrant atmosphere. It’s an absolute classic place to stop off for breakfast as the breakfast menu is fantastic so be sure to get their early-ish if you plan to get a decent seat.
As you might expect from the name, it is the cakes from Sugar Junction that really sets it apart from the rest! The authentic music adds to the relaxed atmosphere and the prosecco and cocktail bar which open later in the day are a fantastic little addition. The afternoon tea is second to none and the cakes are just out of this world. In addition to this, their coffee is well above average and the classic Chinese crockery offers an elegance that most other cafés don’t have. The great breakfast menu includes one of the finest full English’s in the north of England and if you can justify finishing that off with a slice of cake then you have tasted absolute perfection.
Located at the university end of the Curry Mile, The Anchor is a very convenient place to stop off. The coffee will not be beaten anywhere and the fantastic bagels are super! The garden round the back offers a nice space to hang out in the summer when facing long evenings of revision. The community feel at The Anchor can’t be understated; it’s a fantastic place to sit and socialise. Run by a local church, the staff are mostly volunteers, are impressively friendly and approachable and are always up for a good chat! The big spacious areas inside mean it never feels like you’re sat almost on top of other people and the incredibly cheap prices for both food and drink mean students must flock to The Anchor as soon as they get the opportunity.