Idle Hands Pop-up

The Idle Hands logo, taken from the A-board outside the pop-up on Dale Street.Idle Hands started as a long-term pop-up by Manchester’s Piccadilly Station. I had a hit-and-miss relationship with Idle Hands, constantly turning up when it was closed before finally visiting during last year’s Cup North. Idle Hands moved out earlier this year, finding a temporary home with barbers Mr Beardmore in the building on Dale Street that will become its permanent home. Eventually.

The building’s being redeveloped, and, in a tale of woe which you can read on Idle Hands’ website, the opening date has been pushed back and back. Originally scheduled to move in permanently by the end of October, this now looks like early next year. In the meantime, the developer has allowed Idle Hands to move into 32 Dale Street, in the space next door to its future permanent home of 34 Dale Street. It’s a bit makeshift, but at least Idle Hands is back and serving coffee!

July 2017: By now, Idle Hands should have been in its new, permanent home, but at the last moment, the landlord pulled the plug on the deal. It’s not clear what the long-term future is for Idle Hands, but the good news is that Dave and Lucy have picked themselves up and are now back serving coffee and pie every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Grub in Manchester. You can see what I found when I visited in August.

You can see what I found after the gallery.

  • What? Is it possible? Is the new Idle Hands Pop-up actually open?
  • Well, it doesn't look very open. Then again, this will be Idle Hands' future home...
  • ... while the pop-up is one door down on Dale Street, with the door on the right.
  • This is the view coming the other way down Dale Street.
  • The A-board says it all...
  • ... as does the sign above the retail shelves. What's on sale is also on espresso/brew-bar.
  • The view from inside the door, looking to the left.
  • There's a window-bar next to the door...
  • ... seen here from the other side.
  • Four two-person tables run in a row down the middle...
  • ... while the counter is off to the right at the back of Idle Hands.
  • There's also a little bar with a couple of stools back here.
  • Down to business: there's cake, but there will be more food in the next few days.
  • For now, there's just porridge. And very fine porridge it is too.
  • The two main espresso choices are both blends. One's from Copenhagen's Coffee Collective...
  • ... the other is from Nude, in London, the closest thing Idle Hands has to a house roaster.
  • These are on display on top of the twin Mythos 1 grinders next to the espresso machine...
  • ... while there is a third espresso option on the right-hand side of the double-headed EK43.
  • The left-hand head of the EK43 is for filter, seen here with all the filter options.
  • Lucy gets to work on the La Marzocco GB5, which Idle Hands has modified itself with a paddle.
  • Looking good.
  • The result: a lovely cortado.
  • Meanwhile, over on the brew bar, Dave gets ready to go with a V60.
  • The finger hovers over the timer button as Dave prepares to pour.
  • And we're off!
  • Dave is using a continuous pour technique, topping up the V60 on a regular basis.
  • Almost done...
  • And there we are: a carafe of coffee, plus a slice of cake. Sadly, not for me.
  • Some of the filter options from the retail shelf: Man vs Machine (Munich) & Coffee Collective.
  • There are also two options from Finland's Good Life Coffee, both Guatemalans.
  • I had the El Potrero, which Idle Hands recommends through the Aeropress.
  • My coffee, which was divine.
  • I particularly liked the cork in the carafe, which helps keep the coffee warm.
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I arrived on Idle Hands’ very first day, Monday, 7th November, the day after the Manchester Coffee Festival, although, Dave and Lucy, the dynamic duo behind Idle Hands, had been told that they could open on the Friday before the festival. In typical Idle Hands fashion, this did not come to pass, once again due to circumstances beyond their control…

However, Idle Hands is now open, occupying a bare, but functional spot on Dale Street. The door is on the right and needs a bit of a push, opening into a short corridor with Idle Hands on the left. The simple layout has the counter at the back, a three-person window-bar in the front, and a row of four two-tables down the middle. The L-shaped counter has the espresso machine to the fore, with a small, narrow bar opposite it against the right-hand wall.

Idle Hands has always been about the coffee, using roasters from around the UK and across Europe, buying in a few bags at a time before moving on. These are also available to buy, but be quick: once they’re gone, they’re gone. There’s also food, although when I was there, it was just a selection of cake and some porridge. By the time you read this, there should be toasted sandwiches, with possible additions of home-made baked beans and avocado on toast.

Returning to the coffee, there are two main options on espresso, Idle Hands’ custom-modified La Marzocco GB5 making a welcome return. Currently there’s Nude Espresso’s East Blend and another from Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective, each on its own Mythos One grinder. A third option, from Munich’s Man vs Machine, is ground on one head (the right-hand one) on the two-headed EK43 grinder at the back.

The EK43’s left-hand head is dedicated to the filter side of the operation, with five options. Two are Guatemalans from Finland’s Good Life Coffee, one V60 and one Aeropress. There is also a Kenyan (V60) and a Yirgacheffe (which hasn’t been dialled in yet) from Coffee Collective and another Ethiopian from Man vs Machine. Finally, one of these will (hopefully by the end of the week) be available from the Fetco bulk-brewer for those who are in a hurry.

I started with porridge (it’s traditional) which was excellent: thick, creamy and extremely tasty. I followed this with Good Life’s El Potrero through the Aeropress. Served in a carafe with a wooden stopper and a cup on the side, it was superb: smooth, sweet and with great body. Only problem? There’s about 200g of it left: get in now while you can!

Idle Hands should be open until mid-January before moving next door, although past events suggest the date might slip…

December 2016: Idle Hands Pop-up has won the 2016 Most Passionate About Coffee Award.

Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Window-Bar, Bar
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 7th November 2016

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

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3 thoughts on “Idle Hands Pop-up

  1. Pingback: Idle Hands @ Grub | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: 2017 Awards – Most Passionate About Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Pingback: Idle Hands, Dale Street | Brian's Coffee Spot

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