Established in 1996, Java claims to be Manchester’s oldest independent, though this does seem a dubious claim as its independent status is questionable; with four branches dotted around Greater Manchester. There are two small branches at Victoria Station and Rochdale Interchange, one on Station Approach just off of Oxford Road (opposite the rail station) and, contrasting to the polluted station environment, a larger branch in the quaint rural village of Uppermill, Saddleworth (a 30 minute train ride to Greenfield and a 10 minute walk). I realised that purists may not consider this an independent—but the fact that it is local and it is not a multi-national corporation is good enough for me.
Whilst the situation of three of their premises is hardly prepossessing, the interior is inviting and a welcome break from the commuter rat race. The owner spent years travelling around Europe, sampling the finest coffees that the continent had to offer. But upon his return to the UK, he could not find anywhere that rivalled the taste of the freshly ground coffee of France, Italy and even the former Soviet states. This inspired him to create a coffee shop to echo the ambience and quality of coffee found around Europe. The cafés branches are furnished with granite tables, comfortable sofas and walls plastered with mirrors, vintage Italian posters and chalkboards presenting the day’s specials.
The coffee offered was a rich blend of beans that provided the classic coffee aroma but with a fuller flavour and a smoky twist. For those of you who aren’t morning people, the caffeine hit from their coffee is the perfect pick-me-up before any snooze-inducing lecture. This is probably the reason why Java provide one of my favourite coffees in Manchester. The downside is, if you’re looking for a unique coffee with a bit of character, then you probably would be better off looking elsewhere (Takk and Idle Hands come in mind). Essentially, Java does the classic strong coffee to near-perfection.
Alongside the cakes, scones and waffles found in any café at home or on the continent, Java offer a fine range of artisan pies and sandwiches beautifully presented with fresh salad. It’s a great place for lunch or a light bite. Their very own deli counter means that pies can also be taken home if you like the look of what’s on offer but haven’t got the space in your stomach. The price for food and coffee is not going to break the bank either, and what’s better is that the food is locally sourced from bakers, butchers, delicatessens and farmers in Greater Manchester.
Perhaps if you wanted something stronger, or to wash down the pâté and toast with something different, Java have a comprehensive list of good wines—from the ones I’ve tried at least. The better known brands of continental beers—Peroni, Birra Moretti and Stella Artois—are also available.
A while ago, I read an article in The Guardian on the dismal state of catering at train stations. Java break this trend with high standards and a broad range to cater for any traveller’s foodie desires. When you’re making the journey back home, I can only recommend picking up your travel snack or coffee from Java one of their branches in Manchester rather than the usual corporate chain. It’s reasonably priced, great quality and convenient.
1-3 Station Approach / 4 Cigar Alley, Todd St