Detail from the TAKK sign which hangs outside on Tariff Street: the TAKK logo, a cut-out T over the words "TAKK Coffee House", etched in wood in black .In Manchester’s Northern Quarter, five minutes’ walk from Piccadilly Station, there is an unprepossessing street on which, about half way down, is an unprepossessing store front, part of a tall (four storey) terrace of solid, brick-built buildings. This in turn proclaims itself to be the home of TAKK, a relative newcomer to the Manchester coffee scene. Perhaps this is down to innate modesty (although given the A-boards, I doubt that) or maybe it’s a cunning ploy to lull you into a false sense of security, but the exterior really gives no clues as to the delights that await you when you step inside.

TAKK, which is “Thanks” or “Cheers” in Icelandic, is a friendly, welcoming place, its size concealed by what appears to be a relatively small store front (it’s got roughly the same floor area as Manchester’s North Tea Power). The coffee is excellent, with a bespoke house-blend from Bristol’s Clifton Coffee Roasters (NorthernProjekt) and regularly-rotating single-origins from various guests on filter, with Berlin legends The Barn as a mainstay. Add to that an increasing focus on food, with locally-sourced ingredients, regular specials and simple menus, part of TAKK’s push to be the place for breakfast, lunch and coffee.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • TAKK on Manchester's Tariff St. A very unassuming building on a very unassuming street.
  • Even the sign doesn't give much away...
  • ... although the coffee sacks on the benches outside are the first clue.
  • As unassuming as the building is, no-one could accuse TAKK's A-boards of modesty.
  • Even JOCO Cup couldn't resist getting in on the act!
  • Things start to become more obvious when you read the windows...
  • Cold Brew: it was all the rage last summer (when I was at TAKK).
  • The view through the open door looks tempting...
  • Wow! I had no idea it was that big inside!
  • A panorama from just inside the door.
  • Another panoramic view from the corner.
  • There's lots of seating options, such as this row of tables against the left-hand wall...
  • ... while there's this little nook in the opposite corner.
  • Communal tables are all the rage at TAKK, such as this beauty in the centre of the room.
  • The communal table as seen from the other side.
  • And a panoramic view from that end of the room.
  • If all those tables aren't to your liking, you can always try one of the two window bars.
  • TAKK is full of quirky little details, such as the water station. What's that at the back?
  • It's Godzilla, of course. Doesn't every cafe have one?
  • There's also a library in the far corner...
  • ... and lots of lovely light bulbs.
  • Plus interesting light shades.
  • I particularly liked these hanging over the counter.
  • I was also enamoured with the row of lights by the pictures on the left-hand wall...
  • ... and by the pictures themselves.
  • So, to business. The counter between the door and the stairs down to the kitchen.
  • The counter in more detail.
  • The all-important espresso machine is in the corner by the window...
  • ... along with multiple grinders...
  • ... and, while I was there, the V60s and Aeropresses.
  • It being the summer, there was also Cold Brew.
  • The coffee menu.
  • There's also an iced coffee menu (plus breakfast) by the retail counter.
  • TAKK's very own seasonal espresso blend, North Projekt.
  • Seen here in detail and roasted by Clifton Coffee Roasters.
  • There's also plenty on offer from Berlin legends, The Barn.
  • See what I mean?
  • The tea's kept in this little brick nook at the back.
  • There's also a wide selection of food: here's the breakfast menu for example.
  • Plus there's an awful lot of cake.
  • Just some of the cake selection...
  • More of the cake selection...
  • Yet more cake...
  • Did I mention that there was a lot of cake?
  • There are sandwiches too!
  • My lovely flat white.
  • And equally lovely (and not too sticky) Cinnamon Danish bun.
  • And finally, my awesome sandwich to go!
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The narrow storefront on Tariff Street really doesn’t prepare you for what lies inside. There’s just the door, which is up three stone steps, and a pair of windows to its left with another to the right. It could be any building on any number of streets in Manchester, or many other northern cities for that matter.

However, there are clues if you look for them. First off are the wooden benches beneath the two left-most windows, bedecked with coffee sacks. Then there’s the coffee menu in the window to the right, listing the likes of piccolos, Aeropresses and V60s. And then there’s the A-board, modestly proclaiming “Single origin coffees from around the world”. Despite all this, I still did a double-take when I stepped inside.

TAKK’s a long store, but surprisingly wide, with a low ceiling adding to the sense of depth. The counter is immediately to your right as you come in, cakes to the fore. The espresso machine, grinders, V60s and Aeropresses are by the window, proudly proclaiming TAKK’s coffee credentials (although there are plans to set up a dedicated brew-bar), while a neat brick-arched niche in the wall holds jars of loose-leaf tea.

Next there’s a flight of stairs disappearing down into the kitchen. A small counter at the top holds retail bags from Berlin’s The Barn as well as various other roasters, with a selection of coffee equipment for sale. Finally, beyond the stairs, separated from the rest of the store by a pillar supporting the ceiling, is a 10-person communal table, and, against the back wall, a large bookshelf which acts as a library.

The rest of the seating is to your left as you come in. There’s a round, four-person table in front of the counter, and, beyond that, another communal table, this time for eight people. Against the left-hand wall is a long, hard wooden bench with seven recycled school desks, each with its own chair. Finally, the two windows behind you on your left each hold a two-person bar, ideal for perching and watching the world go by.

There’s not much natural light from the windows at the front, but a liberal sprinkling of light bulbs give it a cosy feel, which goes well with the wooden floor and bare brick walls to the left and right. There’s a laid back atmosphere, quiet rock and blues mingling with the gentle hum of conversation on the Monday morning I was there.

I tried NorthernProjekt, TAKK’s bespoke, seasonal espresso blend, as a flat white. This came in a glass and was one of the smaller flat whites I’ve had (a good thing in my book). NorthernProjekt goes well with milk: it’s not as sweet as some, with quite a dark undercurrent which I like. I paired this with a cinnamon Danish bun, which was spot on; not too sweet or sticky (as much as I love a sticky cinnamon bun, it makes a real mess of the keyboard when typing!). I also snuck away with an awesome mozzarella sandwich which was bursting with flavour.

I had hoped to try out the weekend brunch menu when I was back in November for Cup North, but various timing constraints meant I had to miss out on that pleasure. Oh well, there’s always next time!

Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roasters Clifton Coffee Roasters (espresso) + Guests (filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwiches, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Payment Cash + Cards
Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 11:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 11th August, 2nd 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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