Grindsmith

Grindsmith, on a rainy day in Manchester. A rainy day? Well, I never!A relatively recent addition to Manchester’s coffee scene, Grindsmith opened in February 2014. Just across the river in (say it quietly) Salford, it’s a pioneer, funding itself via Kickstarter. I should confess that I have a vested interest, having funded Grindsmith sufficiently to get the Coffee Spot a prime spot on the counter-front, just below the espresso machine.

Grindsmith isn’t big, on the scale of Manchester’s very own Caffeine Cube, aka the original Caffeine & Co on St James’ Square (now Pavé Coffee). However, it’s surprisingly spacious and comfortable, dispelling my original misconception that it was little more than a glorified container. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Grindsmith’s lovely, bright and gloriously-appointed shop would grace any open space in Manchester and beyond. Frankly, if it weren’t for the fact that someone would be bound to notice its absence, I’d be tempted to relocate it to my back garden…

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Visiting Grindsmith for the first time, I was faced with a quick dash (swim?) to get there!
  • Alternatively, this is the approach from the Manchester side of the river.
  • A view of Grindsmith from the Manchester side of the river during a brief lull in the rain.
  • From my return in November: that's the Omnijar boys, sitting in the sun like it's the summer.
  • Still from November: is it me, or does Grindsmith look like it's UNDER the Cathedral?
  • Back in August, during the gap in the showers, the sun came out!
  • I still wasn't sitting outside though!
  • It's a shame though. The picnic tables look quite nice. If a little wet!
  • Grindsmith looking good in the sunshine.
  • While I was there in November, I ran into this fellow: the Grindsmith trike.
  • This handsome beast used to be at Deansgate, until Grindsmith got a permanent spot there.
  • I'm particularly fond of the lever machine.
  • That morning the trike was off to Cup North. C'mon man, peddle faster!
  • No, faster I said! Don't stop!
  • That's better. Who knew being a barista would keep you so fit?
  • Talking of bike/trikes, I have no idea what this is doing on the side of Grindsmith, but I like it.
  • Anyway, time to go inside before it starts raining again.
  • That said, these two seats have a measure of protection from the rain...
  • Stepping inside, the counter is to your left...
  • ... while the seating is to your right.
  • A panoramic view from opposite the door.
  • The seating in more detail. It really is very comfortable and cosy.
  • I'm particularly fond of the glass-topped tables.
  • Even better was this old textile reel converted into a padded seat.
  • Arty lightbulb shot. Every Coffee Spot has to have one.
  • Second arty lightbulb shot. I'm just showing off now.
  • The famous Grindsmith tote bag.
  • According to Grindsmith, outside is open. Looking at the rain, I think not.
  • Seriously, I'm not going out in that! I was afraid Grindsmith would float off down the river!
  • Down to business. Here's the counter.
  • Names of the Kickstarter backers... They'll let anyone fund a Kickstarter these days...
  • The coffee menu...
  • ... with the espresso part...
  • ... and the retail bags.
  • Talking of retail, that's a well-stocked (and nicely constructed) set of shelves.
  • For such a small shop, there's a lot going on. There's the one-group La Marzocco...
  • There's also this pair of syphons...
  • ... and a pair of Kalita-wave filters.
  • There's even an EK-43 in the corner. Note the pre-weighed beans in the glass jars.
  • There's syrup if that's your kind of thing. Only the best for Grindsmith though!
  • So, to business. It had to be the Barnraiser espresso in the end.
  • Here it is. Yes, I know it looks like a mug with a large glass of water, but that's a teaspoon!
  • My espresso in detail.
  • There's also an interesting range of cake which Daniel Ford seems to have laid claim to...
  • More cake from my return in November.
  • I had this mini-bakewell slice to accompany my espresso.
  • On my return, I had the Barnraiser as a flat white. I love the trays by the way.
  • I leave you with a lesson in making a Kalita-wave filter.
  • First, rinse the filter paper.
  • Next, grind your beans.
  • Here comes the first pour.
  • Just leave it to bloom...
  • Now top it up with the main pour...
  • ... and leave to filter.
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There’s not much to Grindsmith, which looks like an upmarket summer house, made of wood and glass. Set in a large, open square across the river from Manchester Cathedral, it’s a welcome addition in a space otherwise bereft of features. There are a pair of wooden bench seats on the outside wall to the left of the sliding door and, in a fit of Manchester optimism, a pair of picnic tables out front on the stone flagging. I say optimistic since during my first visit, in August, it rained the sort of rain that would have had Noah rushing for his hammer and saw. Ironically, when I was back in November, it was bright and sunny, with the guys from Ominjar coffee sitting outside like it was a warm, summer’s day. Which, for Manchester, it was.

Stepping inside, Grindsmith is pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get. The door is in the middle and the entire left-hand half is taken up with the counter, a lovely wooden affair. Carved into the front, for all to see, are the names of Grindsmith’s principal backers. To your right is the seating, two two-person padded, wooden benches with cushions against the right-hand wall and one two-person bench against the back wall. There are two glass coffee tables and a seventh person could squeeze in on an old textile reel converted into a stool.

Despite the small size, it’s bright inside, with half the front given over to floor-to-ceiling windows and the (glass) sliding door, also floor-to-ceiling. There’s also a generous window in the right-hand wall. It’s beautifully appointed, the cosy interior putting many coffee shops to shame.

You might think, given the limited size, that there would be a limited coffee offering at Grindsmith, but far from it. With the Barnraiser blend from local roasters Heart & Graft as the house espresso on the single-group La Marzocco and regularly rotating guests (such as Manchester’s Passion Fruit and LeedsNorth Star) on filter through Kalita-wave and Syphon, Grindsmith outdoes many larger establishments for range and quality of its coffee. There’s also a selection of bite-sized cakes, the perfect accompaniment to your coffee, all from “Time for Cake”, aka Stephanie of Gatley’s Coffee Fix.

Barnraiser is one of my favourite espresso blends, so on my first visit, I had it as an espresso and, on my return, as a flat white (for breakfast). Both times, my coffee came beautifully-presented on Grindsmith-branded wooden tray with a glass of water (with a choice of still or sparkling). On its own, the Barnraiser was lovely: dark and strong, but very smooth, pretty much perfect for me.  In milk, it also excelled, once again smooth, but surprisingly sweet.

November 2015: Grindsmith now only use single-origins (from Heart & Graft) for the house-espresso. You can also see what I made of Grindsmith’s other branches on Deansgate, at Media City and on Cross Street.

December 2015: Grindsmith was a runner-up for the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Smallest Coffee Spot.

GREENGATE SQUARE • VICTORIA BRIDGE STREET • MANCHESTER • M3 5AS
www.grindsmith.com
Monday 07:30 – 19:00 Roaster Heart & Graft (espresso) + Guests (filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 19:00 Seating Padded benches, benches & picnic tables outside
Wednesday 07:30 – 19:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 19:00 Service Order at counter
Friday 07:30 – 19:00 Cards Paypal
Saturday 07:30 – 19:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power Limited
Chain Local Visits 11th August, 1st November, 2014

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Manchester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Manchester.


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