Ancoats Coffee Update

Freshly-roasted coffee beans cooling in the pan of Ancoats' Giesen roaster.I never done this before, updating a Meet the Roaster… Technically, this means it’s a Saturday Update, but also a Meet the Roaster… Fortunately, I suspect that I’m the only one who actually cares about these things…

I first visited Ancoats in August 2014, when it occupied the corner of a small unit in the corner of an industrial estate in Manchester’s Ancoats district. Fast forward 18 months, and Ancoats, after only two years, was doing so well that it could move not only into bigger premises, but into an amazing café/roastery in Manchester’s Royal Mills development.

The Coffee Spot covered the café-side of things back in November last year, so today I’m focusing on the roastery. Ancoats has long been a favourite of mine, roasting some fine coffee, including some of my favourite decafs. This is joined by its ubiquitous Warehouse espresso blend and anything up to nine single-origins. You can get the Warehouse blend, decaf and a different single-origin every week on espresso at the café, while three single-origins are on filter at any one time. These change on a daily basis and, if you ask nicely, chances are that you can have any single-origin that’s in stock.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The magnificent setting for Ancoats new cafe/roastery, Royal Mill in Manchester.
  • The cafe part of Ancoats is amazing, while the roastery is on display for all to see...
  • ... right in the middle of the space behind the counter.
  • The green beans are tucked away to the right behind the counter.
  • This is just a selection of the beans that Ancoats was roasting while I was there.
  • A typical sack of green beans. But what does it actually contain?
  • Well, this. Lovely green beans, waiting to be roasted. Talking of which...
  • ... a man & his roaster. Or is that a roaster, and his roaster? Confusing langauge, English.
  • Either way, Jamie (for that is the roaster's name) is just finishing a roast. Looks about done!
  • This is the cue for the Giesen (for that is the roaster's name) to empty its load into the pan...
  • The aim now is to cool the beans down as quickly as possible so that the roasting stops.
  • I love watching beans pouring out of the roaster.
  • And that's it. Now the rotary arms keep the beans moving exposing them to the cool air.
The magnificent setting for Ancoats new cafe/roastery, Royal Mill in Manchester.1 The cafe part of Ancoats is amazing, while the roastery is on display for all to see...2 ... right in the middle of the space behind the counter.3 The green beans are tucked away to the right behind the counter.4 This is just a selection of the beans that Ancoats was roasting while I was there.5 A typical sack of green beans. But what does it actually contain?6 Well, this. Lovely green beans, waiting to be roasted. Talking of which...7 ... a man & his roaster. Or is that a roaster, and his roaster? Confusing langauge, English.8 Either way, Jamie (for that is the roaster's name) is just finishing a roast. Looks about done!9 This is the cue for the Giesen (for that is the roaster's name) to empty its load into the pan...10 The aim now is to cool the beans down as quickly as possible so that the roasting stops.11 I love watching beans pouring out of the roaster.12 And that's it. Now the rotary arms keep the beans moving exposing them to the cool air.13
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The main trick is finding Ancoats in the sprawling Royal Mills complex, five old mill buildings on Ancoats’ western boundary, just north of the Rochdale Canal. Ancoats occupies a ground-floor space just off the massive, covered, interior courtyard. Since it made no sense to split the operation between the old location and the new café, Ancoats shifted the entire operation to Royal Mills, bringing the roaster along and installing it behind the counter, in plain view for all to see.

Other than the change of location, not much has changed on the roasting side, with owner/head-roaster Jamie still at the controls of the 6 kg Giesen. However, Jamie’s brought in Mani as head-barista, along with new recruit, Iga, who joined over the summer, to help run the café.

Ancoats’ range has expanded somewhat since I first visited, when Jamie was roasting just three single-origins, along with the Warehouse blend and the decaf. This had risen to six single-origins by the end of 2014 and a quick look at Ancoats’ website shows that there are currently eight single-origins available, including two exclusive micro-lots, a Finca La Plata from Costa Rica and an El Paraiso from Colombia. There’s also another Colombian (an old favourite, Augustino Forest), a Nicaraguan and a Brazilian (the Fazenda Ouro Verde, the core of the Warehouse blend). Africa is also represented, with two Ethiopians and one from Burundi. The decaf is currently a single-origin Seethargundu Estate from India. You can buy all of these from the website, which also has a wealth of information on each of the beans.

Although having his own café helps Jamie in providing a steady outlet for his beans, Ancoats’ core market hasn’t changed that much over the last two years. Ancoats has had some success with local coffee shops, roasting a bespoke blend for Ziferblat, the café which charges by time rather than by consumption. Ancoats is also supplying Manchester University, but getting into local speciality coffee shops is proving harder. Instead, Jamie focuses on high-end restaurants and other customers who want to up their coffee game.

This means an emphasis on building relationships, providing training, and educating the customer, rather than just shipping bags of coffee out of the door. When you’re small, having your customers on your doorstep makes this a whole lot easier, so Ancoats’ focus is still very local.

If you want to see the Giesen in action, by the way, you’ll have to take your chances, Jamie roasting as and when required rather than keeping to a specific schedule. However, the café is such an amazing location and the coffee is so good, that you’ll be well-rewarded even if there’s no roasting going on during your visit.

Don’t forget to check out the original Meet the Roaster post for Ancoats, where you can find out some of Jamie’s back story and how he came to set up Ancoats.

December 2016: I was served a superb espresso by Ancoats at the Manchester Coffee Festival, which was a runner-up for the 2016 Best Espresso Award.

ROYAL MILLS • 17 REDHILL STREET • MANCHESTER • M4 5BA
www.ancoats-coffee.co.uk +44 (0) 161 288 3211
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Ancoats (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Bars, Armchairs (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Sandwiches, Cake (for now)
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Cards Cash only (for now)
Saturday 08:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 16:00 Power Limited
Chain No 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.


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