When visiting Manchester for the Manchester Coffee Festival, it’s traditional that I start one of my days at Grindsmith. Two years ago, it was the original, the Pod on Greengate Square, while last year I called in on the second branch on Deansgate. This year it’s the turn of the latest branch, on Cross Street. Bizarrely, this means that I’ve done all four Grindsmith branches in the order that they opened, having previously visited Media City, Grindsmith’s other opening this year.
Grindsmith’s always has interesting spaces. The Pod is just that, a pod/container with a coffee shop inside. Deansgate is at front of an amazing old warehouse, effectively the house-café for the Central Working/Rise co-working space. Meanwhile Media City is a bright, light-filled spot with a cosy mezzanine above the counter/kitchen.
The latest Grindsmith is a joint-venture with Chop’d, the London-based salad-bar chain, now rapidly expanding with this, its first branch outside London. The two share the space upstairs on Cross Street: if it’s food you want, the Chop’d counter is to the left, while if it’s coffee, the smaller Grindsmith counter is tucked away to the right, by the stairs down to the basement, where you’ll find additional seating.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Unless you spot the Grindsmith counter from the street (which is more striking than it appears in my photos) at first sight this does not look much like a coffee shop. Indeed, it looks very much like a salad-bar, which, in fairness, it is. Stepping inside does nothing to dispel this impression, the bright and spacious upstairs being dominated by the large Chop’d counter at the back on the left, while to the right there’s an equally large and dominant chiller cabinet with salad/soups. However, if you persevere, you’ll find Grindsmith’s counter, tucked away in the corner diametrically opposite the door, partially concealed by a pillar.
You can, if you like, sit upstairs with your coffee. There’s a large, floor-to-ceiling window to the left of door and two more to the right, occupying the front of the store. Each of these has its own window-bar. The one on the left, facing onto South King Street, is slightly narrower, so it seats three, while the other two seat four. The remaining seating upstairs is provided by a cluster of four high tables in the centre of the room, leaving plenty of space for people to move around.
There is more seating in the basement, which has the same foot-print as the upstairs, the stairs to the right of the coffee counter doubling-back on themselves and depositing you near the right-hand wall (which is now, of course, to your left). There are a pair of two-person tables here against the wall with another two in a nook ahead of you. Meanwhile, a six-person communal table commands the centre of the room, a cosy armchair in another nook in the corner diametrically opposite the stairs, pretty much under the door upstairs.
Like Deansgate, the basement is positioned as a co-working space, with fast Wifi, numerous power outlets and a quiet, studious air. You can order your coffee from the counter upstairs and the barista will bring it down for you, leading to plenty of exercise for the staff!
Grindsmith is the company which brought us outstanding coffee from a pod of all things, so unsurprisingly, the coffee output is excellent, despite the small space that the barista has to work in. There’s a single-origin and decaf on espresso, both from the wonderful Heart & Graft. During my visit, the espresso was from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but since it changes every month or so, something else will be on by now.
There’s also a choice of single-origins through the Kalita Wave, from either Heart & Graft or a guest roaster. While I was there, Heart & Graft had a Nicaraguan, while Caravan has three choices: Ethiopian, Guatemalan or Kenyan.
I went for the espresso which was really bright and (literally) sent a shiver down my spine with each sip. However, rather than attacking the sides of my mouth, which I dislike, it was very much a centre-of-the-mouth experience. While not at all what I’m used to, I enjoyed it. Pulled commendably short, it was beautifully made and presented in a classic white cup.
I paired this with an excellent white chocolate and raspberry muffin. This had enough white chocolate and raspberry to give me the flavours, but without being too sweet or overwhelming my taste buds. A fine accompaniment to my coffee.
December 2016: Grindsmith Cross Street was a runner-up for the 2016 Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award.
|68 CROSS STREET • MANCHESTER • M2 4JQ|
|http://grindsmith.com||+44 (0) 161 839 3646|
|Monday||07:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Heart & Graft (espresso), Heart & Graft + Guests (filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bars (upstairs), Tables (Basement)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 18:00||Food||Cake, Breakfast & Lunch (Chop’d)|
|Thursday||07:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:00 – 15:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 16:00||Wifi||Free|
|Chain||Local||Visits||4th 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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