Grindsmith Deansgate

A diamond light-bulb hanging over the counter in Grindsmith, Deansgate.When I go to Manchester for Cup North, it’s traditional that I start at least one of my days by visiting Grindsmith. Last year it was the original, the Pod on Greengate Square, which I help fund through Grindsmith’s successful Kickstarter campaign. Back then, the staff were talking excitedly about Deansgate, then the home of the Grindsmith Trike and soon to be the second permanent Grindsmith. Disappointingly (for me) it opened shortly after Cup North, so no prizes for guessing where I went on my return this year…

My initial reaction to the Deansgate Grindsmith is its size. A more traditional coffee shop setting than the pod, what it loses in intimacy, it more than makes up for in space, seating, an expanded food offering and gorgeous, brick arches. I know that might not appeal to everyone, but really, brick arches! How cool is that?

The same Grindsmith dedication to quality coffee is still there, though, with a single-origin from Heart & Graft as the house-espresso, plus decaf and a regularly-rotating guest espresso. There’s also a dedicated brew-bar, with Kalita Wave and Syphons on offer, plus bulk-brew filter for those in a hurry, and, of course, loose-leaf tea.

January 2020: Grindsmith has closed its Deansgate location, but there’s a new Grindsmith just up the street and around the corner on Bridge Street.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Grindsmith, in the Great Northern Warehouse on Manchester's Deansgate.
  • It occupies two arches: this one on the left, which you can't get into (despite the doors)...
  • ... and this one on the right, where you do go in.
  • One of the window bars (Grindsmith has four in all, great for people-watching).
  • Just in case you were wondering if you'd come to the right place.
  • Steppping in through the double doors, there is a window-bar to either side.
  • This one, to the right of the door, is the one we saw in detail from the outside.
  • Meanwhile, this one to the left also has this little L-shaped sofa-bench and coffee table.
  • There are stairs at the back: although not technically Grindsmith up there, you can go up.
  • Alternatively there's this cosy little nook to the left of the stairs.
  • A narrow corridor leads to the other half of Grindsmith, where you'll find all this seating.
  • The view back along the corridor to the counter, where Liam is hard at work.
  • Grindsmith, like the pod, has lots of sofa-benches. These are to the right of the corridor.
  • A view of the rest of the seating in the second half of Grindsmith.
  • A closer view: tables to the left & in the centre, window-bars to either side of the door...
  • ... and, on the right-hand side, more sofa-benches...
  • ... with an old spool for a table and the other window-bar.
  • This young lady, on the far wall opposite the corridor, guards the stairs to the basement.
  • Although they look intriguing, I believe that they are staff only.
  • The stairs up also look intriguing. However, these you are allow to use.
  • The view back over the second half of Grindsmith from the top of the stairs.
  • There's seating up here too, such as this table to the right. It's not technically Grindsmith's...
  • ... but, like these high-tables and bar-stools, you can use it.
  • There are more doors up here, but they were locked when I was there.
  • Looks like someone was building a bar while I was there.
  • Another of the seating areas upstairs, part of a co-working space. Again, you can sit here.
  • You can't, however, go upstairs: offices only, I'm afraid.
  • You can, however, go all the way around and come down these stairs, back to the counter.
  • Grindsmith is full of lovely little touches, such as these flowers on the window-bar...
  • ... and angle-poise lamps in otherwise dark corners.
  • This one was my faourite.
  • Light-fitting fans will love Grindsmith.
  • These beauties hang above the counter.
  • Two-for-the-price-of-one: light-bulbs reflected in the front window.
  • There are some stunning individual light-bulbs/covers, such as this one...
  • ... and this, my personal favourite.
  • The soaring, brick arches of Grindsmith.
  • This, behind the counter, rreally gives you a sense of the curvature of the ceiling.
  • Breaking Bad: a free-sprayed painting hangs in the corner, fittingly overlooking the brew-bar.
  • Talking of which, Grindsmith's always been strong on its brew-bar: Kalita & Syphon on offer.
  • The brew-bar also has its own dedicated grinder in the corner...
  • ... and is home for the loose-leaf tea, from Lancaster's J Atkinson & Co.
  • To business: the counter. Liam's in charge.
  • The cake is down the right-hand end, to your right as you come in.
  • Pastries and bagels catch your eye on the top...
  • ... while there are more tempting goodies on the secret cake shelves below.
  • The food (and juice) menus are also down this end.
  • Meanwhile, opposite the counter, is a range of salads in a chiller cabinet.
  • The coffee menu is on the wall behind the counter...
  • ... while the heart of the operation, a brand new White Eagle, plus grinders, is at the far end.
  • If you're looking to buy any of the coffee (or kit) to take away with you, it's here.
  • One wall of the connecting corridor is lined with shelves, stuffed with bags of coffee...
  • ... including Grindsmith's current guests on these shelves near the counter.
  • Finally, my flat white and Apple Danish, both beautifully presented on a Grindsmith tray.
HTML5 Slide Show by v4.6

Grindsmith shares with the building’s main tenants, Central Working and Rise, a co-working space and start-up incubator respectively. They were so impressed with Grindsmith’s Trike (and who wouldn’t be?) that they invited Grindsmith in on a permanent basis. Grindsmith/Central Working/Rise are in the Great Northern Warehouse, a fantastic example of brick-built Victorian architecture, constructed at the end of the 19th century for the Great Northern Railway.

Grindsmith occupies a pair of huge brick archways, as deep as they are tall and only slightly wider, facing onto Deansgate. At the back, steps lead up from both arches to the shared spaces of Central Working. Although Grindsmith only goes as far as the bottom of the steps, customers are welcome anywhere on the ground floor, while Central Working and Rise occupants are frequently found inhabiting Grindsmith’s many tables (they get a discount… Seriously? A discount, as well as having Grindsmith on the premises? I’d pay a premium just to have Grindsmith in my office!).

Both arches are glass-fronted, making it a bright space, even on a typical, gloomy Manchester day (it was, of course, raining. Did you really need to ask?). Although both arches have doors, only the one on the right is in use, leading into the first of the two spaces, which holds the counter and a limited amount of seating. Window-bars are either side of the door, with an L-shaped sofa-bench to the left (of the sort familiar from The Pod), and, in a cosy nook to the left of the stairs, more sofa-benches.

Opposite the counter, a long, narrow corridor connects to the second arch. There’s more seating here, although it’s still well-spaced. There’s another nook by the stairs immediately to your right, with three two-seater sofa-benches, while the bulk of the seating’s to your left. Looking towards the (non-opening) doors, which are flanked by another pair of window-bars, there’s a pair of four-person tables, one to the left, the other in front of the doors, with an L-shaped sofa-bench to the right. And that’s it, except, of course, if it’s really busy, the rest of the ground floor’s at your disposal.

Grindsmith has recently moved from blends to having a single-origin (from Heart & Graft) as the house espresso, which changes every six weeks or so. It’s also just taken delivery of a new Victoria Arduino (white) Black Eagle espresso machine and a second Mythos One grinder, allowing Grindsmith, in addition to decaf, to start serving a guest espresso. During my visit, the house was a Rwandan, while the guest was the limited-edition Cup North blend.

As if that wasn’t enough, Grindsmith also offers bulk-brew, using a filter blend from Cornwall’s Origin, plus a range of single-origins on the brew bar from Heart & Graft, with guests such as Origin, North Star, Foundry and J Atkinson & Co. (who also do all the tea).

I started by day with a commendably short (5.5oz) flat white, made with the Rwandan. Sweet and smooth, it blended very well with the milk, which hasn’t always been my recent experience when it comes to Rwandan espressos. I paired this with an Apple Danish for breakfast. This was very sticky (tricky when you’re trying to type at the same time!), but with a lovely, rich pastry and a generous, chunky apple filling.

November 2016: Back in Manchester for another Cup North (now the Manchester Coffee Festival), you can see what I made of the new Grindsmith branches at Media City and Cross Street.

Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster Heart & Graft + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Sofas, Bars
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Cake, Sandwiches, Lunch
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 6th November 2015

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Manchester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Manchester. You can also see what fellow coffee blogger Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato made of Grindsmith when she visited in 2016.

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