Once upon a time, in Ancoats, Manchester, a man called Jamie opened Ancoats Coffee Company. Roasting some fine coffee, including some of my favourite decafs, Ancoats went from strength-to-strength, until, on Monday, the Ancoats Coffee Co Coffee Roastery and Café Space (which is a bit of a mouthful, so we’ll stick with Ancoats for short) opened its doors in a magnificent new space in the Royal Mills. We’ll look at the roastery in a future Meet the Roaster; today we’re concentrating on the new café.
Superficially reminiscent of Sheffield’s Tamper Coffee at Sellers Wheel, Ancoats is housed in an old mill building, with a low, brick-arched ceiling and bare brick walls. Potentially a rather dark, unwelcoming space, with only borrowed light from windows at either end, Ancoats is made warm and welcoming by the clever use of lighting. You can also sit outside in the amazing, glass-ceilinged courtyard.
Ancoats, naturally, showcases its own considerable output, with the Warehouse blend, plus a decaf and a different single-origin every week on espresso. There are also three single-origins on filter, which change on a daily basis. If you ask nicely, chances are that you can have any of Ancoats considerable output of single-origins.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Royal Mills is a group of five mill buildings on Ancoats’ western boundary, just north of the Rochdale Canal. Built between 1820 and 1913, they were renovated 10 years ago for use as offices (20%) and flats (80%). Ancoats occupies a ground-floor space just off the massive, covered, interior courtyard, which was always intended as a coffee shop/social space for residents, office workers and the public. As well as opening the new coffee shop, Jamie being Jamie, brought his roaster with him, shifting his entire operation to Royal Mills.
It’s a bit of a rabbit warren, but coming in from the canal, go through the massive, arched doorway (past Ancoats’ A-board) and head for the bit that looks like it’s a coffee shop (but ignoring the furniture which looks like it should be a coffee shop, but isn’t). Ancoats is at the far end, on the right, occupying a rectangular space, consisting of five long, low, brick-ribbed ceiling-vaults. Each rib has an arch at either end and is supported by three cast-iron pillars, giving structure to what could otherwise be a large, open space. The arches of the first rib have doors to the entrance foyer and courtyard respectively, while the others either have windows or are bricked up.
The coffee-shop part of Ancoats occupies the first three ribs, with the roastery occupying the back two. This symmetry is disturbed by the counter, all white tiles in stark contrast to the exposed brick and stone tiles of the rest of the building, which protrudes into the third rib on the left-hand side, nearest the door from the foyer.
Entering by this door, the counter’s to your left, while the seating runs ahead of you in three rows, starting with a bar against the back wall. The next two rows make good use of the pillars, stringing tables between them, while the pillars themselves form small, round tables. The first row of pillars is joined by two low tables, with benches for seating, while the second row only has one table joining the second and third pillars, the first pillar forming the corner of counter. Beyond this is six-person communal table against the courtyard wall, which, coincidentally, is where only power outlet resides.
Talking of the courtyard, this is six storeys high with an amazing sloping glass roof, so you can sit outside even when it’s raining (and since this is Manchester, it’s always raining). Recognising this, the landlord has put some furniture just outside the doors, including two amazing pairs of armchairs and some tables. Alternatively, three coffee tables and chairs are “outside” the foyer-end of Ancoats.
The counter partitions the coffee shop from the roastery. There are cakes front and centre, along with the till, plus plenty of space to make pour-overs. Espresso machine and grinders are to the back on the right, while pride of place, right in the centre, is the roaster itself, Ancoats’ 6kg Giesen. Behind that is an impressive, well-equipped open kitchen that should be put into use next year. For now there’s a limited range of sandwiches and salad. The rest of the space, at the back on the right-hand side, is taken up with the storage space for the green beans, etc.
Coffee-wise, I was spoiled for choice, with all of Ancoats output at my disposal, so I asked head-barista, Mani, to surprise me. For my pains, I had a Nicaraguan natural through the Aeropress, brewed using a low-temperature recipe (65C). It turned out to be a subtle, complex coffee, which was really smooth and the ideal way to christen Ancoats’ new place.
December 2015: Ancoats won the Coffee Spot Best Roaster/Retailer Award for 2015 and was a runner-up for both the Best Physical Space and Most Popular Coffee Spot Awards.
|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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You’ve got to go to Barbecue cafe in Chorlton (next to Out of the Blue Fishmongers) They’re a roastery and cafe too. Staff are lovely, music’s great.
I’ve never been to Chorlton…
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