Idle Hands @ Grub

The Idle Hands logo, taken from the A-board outside the second pop-up on Dale Street.Idle Hands, run by the very wonderful Dave & Lucy, started life as a pop-up next to Manchester’s Piccadilly Station. With the building due for redevelopment, this was always going to be a short-term arrangement, but the good news was that about a year after leaving the Piccadilly site, Idle Hands found a new and (at the time) permanent home on Dale Street, moving in on a temporary basis while waiting for the space to be refurbished.

However, just before Dave & Lucy started fitting out the new shop, the landlord abruptly terminated the lease, leaving Idle Hands homeless. For a less determined couple, that would have been the end, but Dave & Lucy picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and, with a ground swell of support from the wider coffee/independent sector in Manchester, found a new temporary home at Grub’s Mayfield site, where I visited one rainy Friday afternoon.

October 2017: Idle Hands is temporarily closed while Dave & Lucy have their baby. In other news, Grub itself has moved from Mayfield to Fairfield Social Club on nearby Temperance Street.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Opposite the back of Manchester Piccadilly Station is the old Mayfield Station...
  • ... and down the side of Mayfield Station, along Baring Street, you'll find...
  • ... this, the Grub street food fair! However, that's not really why I'm here.
  • Stepping through the gates and, off to the left, you can see what I really came here for...
  • Yes, it's old friends, Idle Hands, back with a new pop-up!
  • The food fair continues on past Idle Hands, with more containers to the left...
  • ... and a bar with sheltered seating areas to the right...
  • ... plus some rather distressed looking people dropping down by umbrella from the sky!
  • However, this is what I've come for.
  • Let's go in, shall we?
  • Inside, the layout is simple.
  • There's a bar against the back wall with four, tall chairs...
  • .... while off to the right is the counter.
  • ... and that's pretty much it.
  • This is Dave, one half of Idle Hands, behind the counter. Cheers, Dave!
  • Like the layout, the decor is nice and simple. As always, I love the Idle Hands logo.
  • In any other hands, I might dismiss 'specialists in coffee' as an idle boast, but not here.
  • You'd think Dave would be pleased to see me, though!
  • The menu on the wall behind the counter  is as concise as ever, dispensing with names.
  • There's espresso from the one-group La Marzocco to the left...
  • ... and filter from the little filter station at the back on the right.
  • Idle Hands' weapons of choice: V60 or Aeropress.
  • The coffee is mostly from Nude: here are the current filter options.
  • There's also pie, made by Lucy, the other half of Idle Hands. This is chocolate cream...
  • ... and this is cherry pie. Naturally, I had to have a slice.
  • My cherry pie, in a box, with some cream, of course.
  • My coffee was an Aeropress from a one-off bag of Rocko Mountain, roasted by Strangers.
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Grub is a Manchester-based street food events company, which has a (temporary) food fair at the old Mayfield Station (around the back of Manchester Piccadilly station), ironically another site undergoing redevelopment. This runs on Fridays and Saturdays, while on Sundays it morphs into Plant Powered Sunday, showcasing vegan street food traders.

Idle Hands has found a new home here, appearing on all three days. It’s conveniently located just inside the entrance to Grub, the first of a row of shipping containers on the left-hand side. However, don’t let the phrase “shipping container” put you off. Rather like another Manchester legend, Grindsmith, an unpromising-sounding exterior belies a rather lovely interior.

In the case of Idle Hands, the look is minimalist rather than sumptuous, with the interior of the shipping container clad in chip board. There’s a central pair of glass doors, flung open when the weather allows, with a generous window on the right and an even larger one on the left. The result is a bright, open space, with the counter occupying the right-hand third (immediately to the right of the door) and seating provided by a four-person bar running along the back wall. There’s another bar along the left-hand wall, but while I was there, there were no seats, the space underneath being used for storage.

I won’t go into Idle Hands’ backstory in any more detail than I already have, since you can find the whole story on Idle Hands’ blog. The good news is that Idle Hands is back doing what it does best, serving some of the finest coffee in Manchester. The pop-up at Grub opened its doors (albeit in a different spot) about a month ago and is going to be there for at least another month, but hopefully not that much longer. The reason is that Idle Hands should be moving into a new, permanent home by the end of the year, although one can never be too certain about these things.

Idle Hands made its name serving outstanding espresso and filter coffee using roasters from around Europe. In its new home, and with the length of stay uncertain, the coffee is currently just from London’s Nude Espresso, with its seasonal East blend on espresso and two or three options on filter, either through the V60 or Aeropress. However, occasional guests do make an appearance, such as a one-off bag of an Ethiopian Rocko Mountain roasted by Norwich’s Strangers Coffee, which was there during my visit, but which was so good that it may have gone by now. A rich, juicy brew, it was outstanding through the Aeropress.

If you’re hungry, then obviously there’s the full range of Grub’s street food vendors, or there’s one of Lucy’s homemade pies: cherry or chocolate cream during my visit. I went for cherry, although judging by the number of slices that had been taken out of the chocolate cream pie, I was in the minority. It was lovely, with great pastry and a rich, fruity filling. Awesome!

December 2017: Idle Hands was a runner-up for the 2017 Best Takeaway Coffee Award.

Monday CLOSED Roaster Nude Espresso (espresso + filter)
Tuesday CLOSED Seating Bar
Wednesday CLOSED Food Pie
Thursday CLOSED Service Counter
Friday 12:00 – 20:00 Cards Cash Only
Saturday 12:00 – 20:00 Wifi Free (wide code)
Sunday 12:00 – 20:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 18th August 2017

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of Manchester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Manchester & Salford.

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3 thoughts on “Idle Hands @ Grub

  1. Pingback: Idle Hands Pop-up | Brian's Coffee Spot

  2. Pingback: 2017 Awards – Best Takeaway Coffee | Brian's Coffee Spot

  3. Pingback: Idle Hands, Dale Street | Brian's Coffee Spot

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