The Mancunion

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A black coffee please, not an ‘Americano’

Coffee has bean the grounds of many a heated and strong discussion – Ben Walker joins the debate


Coffee is drunk with all too little care and attention. For the hungover first year, slightly less hungover second year or the overworked third year, coffee has just become something to perk oneself up with. It should, however, be savoured. Coffee is a delicious yet very accessible luxury; it deserves to be treated with care.

Despite my obviously ominous verbal onslaught of bad coffee practice, I must insert a disclaimer: this is not a savage polemic or silly AA Gill drivel. I have a hug mug and can get a filter coffee from a University of Manchester outlet for 79p. I am a student, so price is of course a major issue – though it does pain me to line the pockets of Food on Campus because the coffee is gritty dirge.

For price and convenience I drink this. For enjoyment and satisfaction I frequent other vendors and leave considerably chirpier. Christie’s Bistro upstairs in the Whitworth Quadranagle (cue the hate mail from postgraduates who keep this gem to themselves) is a haven of tranquility,  neocolonialism reading groups and catch-ups between academics who have just got back from field work in Kathmandu. The coffee served here is very nice: mild, slightly smokey and not at all gritty. The surroundings also make it premium venue, but the coffee stands out as cheap, tasty and all located nearly as conveniently as its Food on Campus competitors.

We all know Caffe Nero is the best high street chain coffee house. Italian beans are roasted hard so the caffeine is largely negated, and the taste is deeper and more complex than the lightly roasted, high caffeine Starbucks swill. Costa is to avoid at all costs.

The Anchor, situated in the old Whitworth Pub opposite the Edinburgh Bike Co-Operative,  serves nice coffee – again, cheaply, and it is independent, which is almost always good. However, if you are hungering for the finest coffee in Manchester, and to date the nicest espresso I have ever had, bee line for North Tea Power in the Northern Quarter. I am aware it’s too far to go on a Tuesday lunch unless you are fanatical, but do try and make a visit.

Couture (the Museum café) is somewhat a misnomer. It looks lovely, the food is good and is full of anoraked middle-class grandparents babysitting Hugo and Florence for the day, who chose to visit the enriching and educational museum. Maybe that’s why the coffee isn’t great, as the clientele are too busy retrieving stray Early Learning Centre toys and mittens.

To be clear, this is about black coffee. If you seek sugar, cinnamon, chocolate, cream and words with ‘chino’ on the end (not the trousers) then I’m sure anywhere will satisfy these cravings. However, when in search of your daily coffee fix, do consider what you are drinking. Coffee deserves your due care and attention.

  • Umar Gul

    Can you recommend any good places for decaf or fruit teas? Places with a thick post-modern atmosphere would be preferable. Thanks

  • Tony Green

    I agree completely Ben, the surroundings are very important as they are part of the coffee drinking experience. I just like to find a place where I can settle in and take my time.