A relatively recent addition to Manchester’s coffee scene, Grindsmith opened in February 2014. Just across the river in (say it quietly) Salford, it’s a pioneer, funding itself via Kickstarter. I should confess that I have a vested interest, having funded Grindsmith sufficiently to get the Coffee Spot a prime spot on the counter-front, just below the espresso machine.
Grindsmith isn’t big, on the scale of Manchester’s very own Caffeine Cube, aka the original Caffeine & Co on St James’ Square (now Pavé Coffee). However, it’s surprisingly spacious and comfortable, dispelling my original misconception that it was little more than a glorified container. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Grindsmith’s lovely, bright and gloriously-appointed shop would grace any open space in Manchester and beyond. Frankly, if it weren’t for the fact that someone would be bound to notice its absence, I’d be tempted to relocate it to my back garden…
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
There’s not much to Grindsmith, which looks like an upmarket summer house, made of wood and glass. Set in a large, open square across the river from Manchester Cathedral, it’s a welcome addition in a space otherwise bereft of features. There are a pair of wooden bench seats on the outside wall to the left of the sliding door and, in a fit of Manchester optimism, a pair of picnic tables out front on the stone flagging. I say optimistic since during my first visit, in August, it rained the sort of rain that would have had Noah rushing for his hammer and saw. Ironically, when I was back in November, it was bright and sunny, with the guys from Ominjar coffee sitting outside like it was a warm, summer’s day. Which, for Manchester, it was.
Stepping inside, Grindsmith is pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get. The door is in the middle and the entire left-hand half is taken up with the counter, a lovely wooden affair. Carved into the front, for all to see, are the names of Grindsmith’s principal backers. To your right is the seating, two two-person padded, wooden benches with cushions against the right-hand wall and one two-person bench against the back wall. There are two glass coffee tables and a seventh person could squeeze in on an old textile reel converted into a stool.
Despite the small size, it’s bright inside, with half the front given over to floor-to-ceiling windows and the (glass) sliding door, also floor-to-ceiling. There’s also a generous window in the right-hand wall. It’s beautifully appointed, the cosy interior putting many coffee shops to shame.
You might think, given the limited size, that there would be a limited coffee offering at Grindsmith, but far from it. With the Barnraiser blend from local roasters Heart & Graft as the house espresso on the single-group La Marzocco and regularly rotating guests (such as Manchester’s Passion Fruit and Leeds’ North Star) on filter through Kalita-wave and Syphon, Grindsmith outdoes many larger establishments for range and quality of its coffee. There’s also a selection of bite-sized cakes, the perfect accompaniment to your coffee, all from “Time for Cake”, aka Stephanie of Gatley’s Coffee Fix.
Barnraiser is one of my favourite espresso blends, so on my first visit, I had it as an espresso and, on my return, as a flat white (for breakfast). Both times, my coffee came beautifully-presented on Grindsmith-branded wooden tray with a glass of water (with a choice of still or sparkling). On its own, the Barnraiser was lovely: dark and strong, but very smooth, pretty much perfect for me. In milk, it also excelled, once again smooth, but surprisingly sweet.
November 2015: Grindsmith now only use single-origins (from Heart & Graft) for the house-espresso. You can also see what I made of Grindsmith’s other branches on Deansgate, at Media City and on Cross Street.
December 2015: Grindsmith was a runner-up for the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Smallest Coffee Spot.
|GREENGATE SQUARE • VICTORIA BRIDGE STREET • MANCHESTER • M3 5AS|
|Monday||07:30 – 19:00||Roaster||Heart & Graft (espresso) + Guests (filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 19:00||Seating||Padded benches, benches & picnic tables outside|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 19:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:30 – 19:00||Service||Order at counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 19:00||Cards||Paypal|
|Saturday||07:30 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||09:00 – 17:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||11th August, 1st 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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