Manchester Coffee Festival 2016 Preview

A stylised outline of a white cup on a black background with letters cupnorth written above it (also in white).In two weeks’ time (Saturday/Sunday, 5th/6th November), Cup North will return, although this year it’s re-branded itself the Manchester Coffee Festival. Once again gracing the halls of the Victoria Warehouse in Stretford, where last year it spread itself out over a rabbit warren of interconnected spaces, you’re in for a real treat.

I’ve watched the Festival evolve over the last three years. Starting out as Cup North in 2014, it was a modest, relaxed affair in a pair of adjoining rooms in Manchester’s Artwork. Last year it expanded to Victoria Warehouse, occupying a number of rooms on the first floor, feeling more like a mini London Coffee Festival, although on a much more manageable scale. Even so, I still didn’t have time to get around all the stands I wanted to!

Whether it’s your first time or you’re wondering what this year’s festival will hold, this preview is for you. There’ll be plenty of speciality coffee and related kit, with numerous cafes, roasters and equipment suppliers amongst the exhibitors. Food, as always, will play a big role, with a range of local street food traders on hand. Finally, the Festival will once again host a series of Tamper Tantrum talks.

With weekend tickets for just £18, or £10 if you only want to do a single day, it really is a bargain. Get your tickets now!

You can find out more about the Manchester Coffee Festival after the gallery, a round-up of last year’s event.

  • The Victoria Warehouse, home, for the 2nd year running, of the Manchester Coffee Festival.
  • The entrance, by the way, isn't the easist to find. It's over there, across the loading dock!
  • This brings you into the first of three main exhibition spaces the Festival had last year.
  • The stands here were arrayed in a horseshoe-like arrangement.
  • Unlike other coffee festivals I've been to, Manchester was blessed with pllenty of seating.
  • I made good use of this particular sofa last year! I wonder if I can put a reserved sign on it?
  • There was also a fully-stocked bar (which doubles as a reception desk for the on-site hotel).
  • This corridor connected everything. I walked up and down here a lot last year!
  • Last year there was a cinema, showing coffee films all day.
  • Next to that, the canteen area, which hosted the commpetitions and Tamper Tantrum talks.
  • The third and largest of last year's spaces was at the other end of the corridor.
  • The roasters were out in force last year. In alphabetical order, there was Allpress...
  • ... and Atkinsons, which had forsaken its usual Faema E61 for a shiny, new Opera.
  • Rounding off the 'A's last year, Avenue Coffee had come down all the way from Glasgow!
  • Kicking off the 'C's, Carvetii's journey from Cumbria was slightly shorter...
  • ... while Casa Espresso had just jumped over the Pennines from Bradford.
  • Clifton Coffee Roasters had brought a super-sexy Kees van der Westen from Bristol...
  • ... while Manchester's very own Heart & Graft hadn't had to come very far at all.
  • Sticking with the 'H's, my friends at Hope & Glory were out in force...
  • ... while I made the acquaintance of new friends, Neighbourhood Coffee.
  • Finally, more old friends were out in force with Brighton's Small Batch.
  • It wasn't all coffee though... There was also milk. Single-origin milk, no less!
  • Turning our attention to toys, there's the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle & Mythos 1 grinders.
  • ... while at the other end of the scale was a range of home VBM machines.
  • Next, the Oomph, a new concept in coffee-making, which was launched at the Festival.
  • Meanwhile Knock was there with various hausgrinds (top) and furbgrinds (bottom).
  • New to the Festival last year, the UK finals of the Tasters' Cup.
  • Finally, there was the street food area outside, doing great business despite the rain!
  • Laynes Espresso, with its Sheaf Street Cafetieria was there...
  • ... so I had to have the Brioche French Toast for brunch on Day One. It tasted divine!
  • There were more savoury options from several food vans...
  • ... including Gloria, who was proving very popular!
  • On Day Two, I ended up at the Wallace & Sons van for handmade Gyoza.
  • Gyoza are Japanese dumplings, by the way. I had the veggie ones and they were great!
  • However, man cannot live by savoury food alone. So, there was cake: here, from Smores...
  • ... and here from friends of the Coffee Spot, Cakesmiths, who last year...
  • ... came all the way from Bristol to feed me toasted banana bread. How could I say no?
Photo Carousel by v4.6

Although rebranded as the Manchester Coffee Festival, I’ve been assured by organisers Hannah and Ricardo that this is the same Cup North that we’ve all come to know and love. For the second year running, the Festival will be in the Victoria Warehouse in Stretford, an easy tram-ride from the city centre. You can expect the usual coffee festival fare, including stalls from roasters, local cafés, green bean importers and coffee equipment suppliers, spread out over a series of interconnected rooms, each small enough to retain the festival’s intimate feel. These are centred on the large canteen area where last year the popular Tamper Tantrum talks were held. Meanwhile if you head outside, dodging the inevitable Manchester rain, you’ll find the street food market, a real highlight of last year’s festival.

This year, the usual favourites will be back, while we’ve been promised some additional exhibitors, including several tea companies, a chocolatier and a room full of smaller companies which will include Jody Leach, maker of the excellent Therma Cup, one of several reusable cups which grace my twitter and Instagram feeds on a regular basis. In a not unrelated move, there will be a series of workshops around the topics of waste and recycling, subjects very close to my heart!

Cup North has an excellent, well-designed website, which I urge you to check out, particularly if you want to know who’s exhibiting and what’s going to be on. For me, the particular highlights are as follows.

Roasters have always been extremely well-represented at Cup North, providing a chance to catch up old friends such as local roasters Heart & Graft and Ancoats and the likes of Yorkshire’s Grumpy Mule (Holmfirth), North Star (Leeds) and Casa Espresso (Bradford). Coming from the other direction, there’s Liverpool’s Neighbourhood Coffee, Lancaster’s J Atkinson & Co. and from even further afield, Cumbria’s Carvetii and Edinburgh’s Artisan Roast. Talking of other directions, heading up the M5 will be Clifton Coffee Roasters (Bristol) and from even further afield, Origin (Cornwall). London, meanwhile, is also represented with more old friends in the shape of Allpress, Climpson & Sons and Union Hand-roasted, while I’m looking forward saying hello again to Sussex’s Cast Iron Roasters.All these roasters will be joined by green-bean importers, Falcon, DR WakefieldMercanta and Nordic Approach.

My favourite coffee competition, the Tasters Cup, will be back again for a second year. Coffee professionals race each other against the clock to spot the odd one out from three very similar coffees. If you fancy turning your hand at this sort of thing, then  DR Wakefield will be running a cupping lab featuring various green bean importers where you’ll be able to try different beans from all over the world.

Coffee equipment will be represented with the likes of sponsors La Cimbali, Conti and La Marzocco, who will be bring the Linea Mini Kitchen Experience to Cup North. Want to know what it would be like to have a top-of-the-range espresso machine in your kitchen? Then this is the place to come! Talking of equipment, Coopers will be back for another year, with the Black Eagle espresso machine and Mythos grinders, while I, for one, am keen to know what Edinburgh’s Machina Espresso has been up to.

Finally, two coffee festival stalwarts who have nothing (sort of) to do with coffee will be returning. There’s hot chocolate (and left-luggage) specialists, Kokoa Collection and Coffee-Spot-feeders extraordinaire, Cakesmiths. If you are looking for me at the Festival, I suggest you go to the Cakesmiths stand and steal all the banana bread. I can guarantee that I’ll have tracked you down within 10 minutes!

With all this (and more) on offer, you’d be mad to miss it. So, what are you waiting for? Head over to the Cup North website and get your tickets now!

See you all there.

You can now see how I got on at the Manchester Coffee Festival in the first part of my write up.

Monday N/A Roaster N/A
Tuesday N/A Seating N/A
Wednesday N/A Food N/A
Thursday N/A Service N/A
Friday N/A Cards N/A
Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 Wifi N/A
Sunday 10:00 – 18:00 Power N/A
Chain No Visits 5th/6th November 2016

If you’re heading up to Manchester for the Festival, then check out the city’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Manchester.

For more on Cup North/Manchester Coffee Festival over the years, check out my round-ups for:

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