Category Archives: Coffee

Coffee top shots

Last time I wrote a blog about my favourite places to grab coffee, there weren’t any of these newer independents on the scene.

My tastes in coffee have changed considerably since, with the quality of local coffee shops rising above the corporate coffee blandness.

Now I will not stand for bland lack lustre coffee. I expect my Americano to make a statement, expect pour overs to be on offer bringing the complexities of marshmallow through to grapefruit, whilst I still want to have the freedom of choice to dabble with syrups for that cheap sugary hit without being frowned upon.

The new crème de la crème in the coffee world offer this.

First up … North Tea Power. I mentioned these back in 2010, they originally opened as a tea specialist and now the cute Indie cafe serves up teas, coffees, food and beers. I recently went to a Has Bean: In My Mug Live event, where we tasted the El Salvador Finca from Argentina. It was a lovely contrast to kick start the event with a can of Brooklyn ale before sampling washed, natural and pulped varieties of the blend moving to the final hit of espresso. My favourite was the washed varietal and surprisingly we didn’t need much of the coffee to give us the kick ass caffeine hit.

Newish to Gatley is Coffee Fix who opened there doors last year, but lay unbeknown to me until two months ago. They are excellent for their pour overs with the Sidamo from Ethiopia being a particular favourite of mine, served both hot cold and on those extremely hung-over days lending itself to being sweetened with a sugar shot. Coffee Fix owners are good friends with the lovelies from North Tea and also with the next coffee mention Trove in Levenshulme.

Trove is a delightful little coffee plus homemade bread and cake spot, situated on the A6 opposite the Antique showroom.  It is run by husband and wife duo Marcus and Kate who specialise in goodness and creativity, making bread and jams and creating their own magazine http://www.trovefoods.co.uk/trovelife/. They often run stalls on local farmers markets, at Northenden earlier this month and Levenshulme on Saturday. They’ve got the style spot on with a lovely stampy stamp of the Trove van. A great place and nice to see good things happening in Levy.

The next two coffee shops are a bit further West of Manchester, in Liverpool… Bold St and sibling coffee bar Duke St. Again, these beauties rack up an impressive array of pour overs and underpriced espresso. The staff a friendly bunch who know what they are doing with coffee, style and presence.

The incestuous nature of these locals, show a real sense of growing community. Sampling the new and vibrant coffee culture goes hand in hand with the trendy real ale trail that’s made its mark on the British landscape over the past few years.

Next up on the radar to try will be Caffeine & Co, Manchester who the friendly chap at Duke St gave a shout out to.


Back to Blog and how the world has changed

By becksie

Here are 10 ways Becksie’s drinking world has changed since June 2nd 2010:

1. Grindsmith is alas no more, it remains but a very short and treacly memory.  I’m sure we’ll see them back in some shape or form; the coffee was too good for a return not to happen.

2.  There’s a new kid in town, namely, North Tea Power on Tib Street, serving loose tea, espresso tea, green tea latte, tea pigs . . .  tea in every essence you can imagine and the coffee selection is expansive too.  On my first visit I was a little shocked when I ordered Americano only to find it was Tea Americano, so do say if you want coffee.  I had to laugh with my dad, who I took there recently, as he was terribly confused by the bits floating in the percolator.  He thought his tea had been infested with flies, we have both learnt from our mistakes.

3.  The world of supermarket beer is evermore expanding with Morrisons now stocking 3 Brewdogs.  I grabbed a few 5am Saints and Trashy Blondes from the local one in Cheadle last week, £1.59 a bottle.  They also stock Punk IPA, but Tesco and Sainsburys are better for this at £1.37 each.

4.  Tesco have their own Double American style IPA brewed by Brewdog, it clocks up 9.2% and is a denser style than their own Hardcore, but it’s good and when I managed to grab them they were on 3 for £4, so excellent value.  Tesco are also doing a ginger beer that’s really good for this time of year, brewed by the William Brothers it’s got a fiery ginger kick, not like with Crabbies, its full hearted wintry and only 3.8%.  Sainsburys have also got an impeccably good ginger beer, though the front cover designs a bit naff. It’s brewed with the Freeminer’s brewery and it is lovely, bizarrely warming when chilled with a slice of lemon.

5.  My favourite beer for this time of year has to be Dark Star Espresso beer, combining my 2 adorations beer and coffee, it’s the perfect combination.  I picked up a bottle from the newly expanded microbar in the Arndale, their beer selection is really good and keeps growing.  I also picked up 312, goose islands urban take on a wheat beer, and looked longingly at Brewdogs AB04.

6.  Weatherspoons Real Ale festival is running till 14th Nov, and they’ve done a really good job.  You can get three 1/3 glasses for £1.69 and the selection is impressive.  Last week in our local Didsbury branch, we had the Brewdog Edge, woo hoo such a plumy mild 3.2%, a biscuity White Horse Sniveller’s Corner 4.7%, and American Rye Humour beer 4.5%.  Look at the revolving selection they have on here: http://www.jdwrealale.co.uk/

7.  I’ve discovered a new coconut water, I think it’s called cocofino, £1.49 from Holland and Barrett. I’ve been getting 2 as its buy one get one half price at the moment.  It’s really nice and comes in a can: toasted coconut you are what my taste buds like.

8.  I dropped off the bus the other week in Rushholme and with a chill in the air I wondered what on earth to drink.  I bobbed into an over enthused sweet delight emporium, although the board sent me dizzy and the array of sick colouring made my hangover swell, I ended up walking out a happy bunny with a tea massala with soy milk in.  Lovely and spicy, but in a soothing way, I went on my merry way to moomin land. (I actually did. I love discovering new drinks.)

9.  Mulled wine season is upon us, and by God does this make me happy.  I stretch it out more than anyone I know, from now until February.  As I’m going to Berlin in December it will be my on call drink to warm up my hands and my cheeks.

10. Coffee Frescato – had a bad experience in Costa recently and so wrote a dedicated email of complaint, demonstrating my dismay at being given a Frescato of watery consistency with globs of powder and no friggin coffee beans.  If you’ve ever had one you’ll know the new recipe requires grinding the beans, and then you get a little nibble as well as a drink.  They are a slight nuisance when they get in your teeth, as you can’t shift them, but yummy they are.  Anyway they responded and gave me a £10 voucher for their coffee.  As I’d be crazy to go down the ice route at this time of year, though I had one last Saturday, I’m now resigned to sticking with the newish flat white, drink of the season for the time being.


Back to Blog and how the world has changed

Last post Nov 8th 2009, Ten Americanos later.  Here are 10 ways Becksie’s world have changed since then :

  1. I have discovered the Contact theatre’s amazingly thick coffee that actually makes me shake and grindsmith for coffee brewed in a siphon, which is awesomely refreshing
  2. I live in Northenden
  3. I haven’t been to any more gigs at the cathedral since Grizzly Bear, but I have seen the Tim and Sam band and The Antlers at St Phillips church.  I am going to St Trinity tonight for Ben Frost, so the culture for church gigging is expanding
  4. Future Everything happened, needless to say I was the only one with a nokia 3210
  5. Still reading Raymond Carver, his book of shorts Elephant, I am on to Elephant now
  6. I am back on Facebook, I missed out on parties and being nosey
  7. I’ve discovered a new Crabbies, namely Franks ginger beer ashamedly made by kopperberg
  8. I sold the Victorian breast pump and acquired 317 issues of Punch magazine
  9. The world now has a Maximillion, a Herbert and an Elliot in it
  10. Coconut water was £1.29 Aug 1st 2009, now it’s up to £1.79, thanks Madonna!  bizarrely Grace coconut water with pulp and sugar in is down to 27p in Tesco Baguley

Ten Americanos later

My coffee project I’ll round to an even 10, I will still drink coffee both good and bad, and I have learnt how to deal with a substandard cup to make bad battery acid drinkably nicer.

imagesIn at number 10 Starbucks.  The image is bland and pre-soaked in what has become all too popular coffee shop art.  A nippleless mermaid and big goblet mugs does nothing for the palate and neither does the coffee. 

It’s so weak I could afford to have five shots in my Americano, but even then the risk of crema is still zero.  How do all the teenagers afford to buy Strawberry Cream Frappucinos and double choc chip muffins? Get back to MacDonald’s! 

The coffee is not far off dishwater and leaves me feeling jittery,  with no caffeine boost .  The watery Americanos could be associated with the fact that they tried to create a brand name based on a character from Moby Dick, but I think this is a cover up job just listen to it Star Bucks – yeah we know you are raking it in.

I will continue to go here for a desperate remedy of Espresso Frappucino light with 2 extra shots, but I will never venture to the dark side again, unless it’s a freebie from the Guardian on a Friday. 

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: ESPRESSO FRAPPUCINO LIGHT WITH 4 SHOTS

Simon%20Dunn%20Chocolates

imagesIn at number 9 Ferraris coffee.  Simon Dunn chocolatiers, is a world where most things are made out of chocolate.  They have infused Robinson’s Old Tom with their chocolate to create, would you believe, Old Tom Chocolate.  I have previously purchased chocolate lollipops from here saying happy birthday and smiley faces instead of a birthday card, it seems a more logical solution than Hallmark.  They do a whole variety of things from chocolate tool kits costing £2, to a giant chess set that probably would be responsible for obesity if it didn’t check in at £75. 

Their stuff is beautiful, but that’s what they are good at, and my black Americano was not to their usual standards.  There was no crema and the coffee smelt instant and started to get a greasy rim.  The coffee tasted not too dissimilar from work coffee and although the cute little chocolate frog on the side was a quirky little treat, I melted it and got it all over my cheek. 

However, my sister had the hot chocolate and that was pure Willy Wonka magic brought into Wilmslow on a rainy afternoon.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: REAL HOT CHOCOLATE OR OLD TOM CHOCOLATE

8: my old local coffee shop Funky Monkey.  A bit embarrassing when arranging to meet here with people, but it is a really down to earth localfunkymonkey business that serves all manner of wonderful drinks. 

The smoothies are the sweet bird variety, but they taste really good, and they do full and half-size, which is good, though I never have halves.  They do my favourite drink here which is Americano with soya milk and butterscotch syrup.  It’s sweet, it gives me a boost of caffeine and a shot of sugar and I weirdly love it. 

However, the black coffee isn’t good, it tastes and looks see through,  it’s a good temperature although it maybe a  little too hot.  I must say that this shop is great and anywhere that sells Bunderburg ginger beer at under £1.50 is 10 points with me.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE AMERICANO, MILK HOT AND SYRUP

AYKXEKZCAATWI24CAUXIBYJCA7VWMANCAK5GACOCAQDUCSNCADYD4UNCAXJE9CXCAE7V0WICA90BND3CA7J85T1CAWYKFF7CAASYGV2CAFC1CD9CAJDE06JCAI7MXWRCAK2OYO0CAOX0MB1CAJ1IFQL7: Thyme Out Deli off Burton Road, an excellent place for breakfast before 11 a sausage barm and a latte at £2.95.  The coffee is Segafredo, but the machine is slightly nuts and hisses at you when the staff move away.  The coffee in here is not the best, but you can disguise it by making it milky or better still get one of their amazing smoothies instead.

Thyme out Deli is a wonderful little treat set on the backdrop of Burton Road, it’s friendly and opens early even on a Sunday, when most businesses in West Didsbury haven’t even got their pre-programmed lights to work.  The coffee is passable, but my hopes were high as I had Segafredo for the first time in Paris.  The Meze-Meze there was, to quote an old but true cliché, to die for.  Rich hot chocolate with creamy espresso, I was swinging around La Louvre for hours.

The black coffee in here is passable, but they have so much more on offer, I’d go for more.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: RASPBERRY BERET SMOOTHIE

6 in the Americano stakes is Common.   Stick to the beer if you can, especially because they have Sierra Nevada porter, Brooklyn brown ale and for the sweeter days Fruli on tap at what’s looking an acceptable price of £3.80 a pint.  AX06JLUCAV7QR8PCA791BM1CAL2FI56CAJ69MZJCAB92SX5CAMZ1A4RCAI8CFP1CAMP3UWSCAQNNCWSCASTS5NWCA9URITMCA3AXJ2HCA9X6572CAGHA6NGCA2JXGZECAC18H10CAHZAIC0CA2XDH8WI really like Common as a bar, but their coffee was really only to facilitate a drive home.  It was fine, surprisingly refreshing and very reasonably priced.  There wasn’t much body, but it did the trick.

Common is one of my favourite bars in the Northern Quarter, it manages to remain unpretentious whilst being extremely stylised.  The deals they do on beer and a chilli for £7 are great especially as the quality is so good.  I will be sticking to this place for beer and not morning coffee.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: SIERRA NEVADA PORTER

5 is M & S Cafe Revive.   AUA345TCAQGO3XSCA9D0X6RCA5LV4ULCAMVMCL9CA2AHD8DCAQSAFIZCAHUJQ2XCAD3D1N0CA2728LNCACSW1IKCAHCP7Z7CALV2JC0CAHB6JR0CA0GL193CAMCBF3JCA0GP9APCAM0F48MCAA7E2TJThe place is like a glorified cafeteria granted, but they do a reasonable Americano.  It is really too hot to drink though and they had definitely scalded it a bit, which was a real shame as it seemed like it had the potential to be in the top three.  They have pleasing cups and saucers and serve all coffee with an Amoretti biscuit. 

The place is like a safe sex promotion, as screaming spoilt children want mummy’s cake even though they’ve got their own.  Reasonable coffee, bad surrounds and too many things afterwards to spend money on, which is lethal after a caffeine kick.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: BLACK AMERICANO WITH CARAMEL SYRUP AND TAP WATER AS IT COMES WITH FRESH LEMON AND ICE

4. Costa Coffee.  I always thought that the Americano from here came with plenty of crema when I order my take out cup, but this ARV9XTBCASJQOU5CACFO68HCA0N60A0CAXXGDU4CAUUMFOECAO197ZQCAJATCAZCA4X7YUJCAUL2RBACAD0MXV8CAY9J55CCAU8NDRKCA96ZEUMCAKLW8Y8CAJH0FRPCA6HXYU6CAGS2CB2CAYEQR2Nshowed not to be true.  It was dark, slightly thick, but slightly disappointing.  The taste wasn’t as strong as I would have hoped for and it didn’t look as good as I imagined.

Sitting in the Costa in Bramhall I felt I could have been at any of their coffee shops, as there is no unique feel to the place.  They are always crammed with the same people and the same staff circulation, which makes me feel like there’s some sort of teleportation going on.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: ESPRESSO FRESCATO WITHOUT THE ESPRESSO BLENDED IN

 3. is Caffe Nero in a small cup for the intensity.  The coffee smelt fantastic and had Rosarch shapes appearing in the surface.  There was a good level of crema but the taste didn’t live up to how good it looked.  The coffee was aesthetically pleasing, but it was a bit on the scalded side and seemed more like a strong Greek coffee than Italian.

The staff in Nero always struggle to speak English, which I suppose should be a good sign, but I was a tad disappointed with the coffee, however it was a far cry from the murky dishwater Starbucks serve.

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: SOYA CAPPUCINO WITH CARAMEL SYRUP – EXPENSIVE THOUGH

2. Silver Apples, mmmn good coffee, good head, good beer to look at, individual mugs, well worth it.  I still haven’t found out what brand they use, but they are friendly and there is a great selection of literature to peruse whilst you sip in the delights of Orchard Street. 

I like this place by night and I like it by day.  They seem to do it all well, the coffee is good and well worth a non alcoholic visit. 

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: PUMPKIN ALE BY BROOKLYN BREWERY

No 1. Folk, aka The Deli on Burton Rd. 

they live up to their review in Manchester Food and Drink as being the best in the coffee states and they really do know what they are doing.  The wait can tend to be on the long side, but it’s worth it.  The Americano is served as one size, no messing about.  It’s thick crema lingers to the side of the cup so you can scrape your teaspoon at the froth.  It tastes as it smells and is pretty much perfect on every level.   

I started coming to the deli many moon’s ago with Phil, so I have him to thank for my introduction.  It gets my number one vote

BEST DRINK FROM HERE: AMERICANO

p.s. do not be put off by the buisnesses of West Didsbury saying all manner of bad things about each other, they are not neighbourhood friendly.


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