Coffee Columnist Andrew Wells takes a look at the foundations of this sleek upmarket Manchester establishment
On Lever Street, in the Northern Quarter, is the Grade-II listed ‘Sevendale House’. This former Edwardian warehouse is the home of Foundation Coffee House: possibly the largest coffee shop that I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
Everything about Foundation seems to point towards the history of Manchester, or I could just be making over-reaching analyses. The designers have knocked through two units of the building to create a spacious, open plan set up fitted with furnishings that appear to be a tasteful nod to the historic, industrial foundations upon which Manchester is built. This seems to be evident in the naked industrial lighting, metal work, and tiled walls that emulate the public houses of the industrial era. There are organic finishes to soften the starkness in the form of wooden, hexagonal tables that conjure up thoughts of a beehive; bees are also a symbol of the work ethic of the city that has ties back to the industrial past.
The location of the shop is ideal, just a short walk round the corner from Piccadilly Gardens and Market Street whilst also being on a much quieter street itself so that you still get a break from the bustling crowds.
Behind the counter, Foundation serves some excellent coffee and great baked products. Even when my own coffee cooled a little too much, after getting distracted by the copious amounts of reading I had to catch up on, it still tasted pretty good. A simple, classic flavour done well which seems to be Foundation’s raison d’être. The shop as a whole and the produce that it serves is all really straight-forward with very little fuss, but contained within this simplicity is fantastic quality—and all for a reasonable price.
Of course, like all the coffee shops this column has reviewed so far, there is still an array of teas and soft drinks to choose from if coffee has yet to make a positive impression on your palette. Foundation has followed the vegan zeitgeist of alternative dairy products, with almond milk, coconut and cold pressed juices for those looking to feed their bodies with nutrients. The matcha coconut latte is really something special and unrivalled. However, if you’re going to have a coffee anywhere, this is the place to start trying the delightful taste that the coffee bean has to offer as the espresso here has such a mellow aroma. Plus, if you want to ease into it then cucumber-flavoured water (and unflavoured water) is available to smooth off any bitter edge.
With the vast and stark space that Foundation has taken over, you do lose that bit of cosiness which other smaller coffee shops can provide. However, if you want space to do work or somewhere to pause for coffee after a bit of Christmas shopping, then this is an ideal spot for you.