Manchester Coffee Festival 2017 Preview

A flat white from Carvetii in my Therma Cup at the Manchester Coffee Festival, 2016.It’s that time of year again. The next two weeks sees the arrival those fixtures of the autumn calendar: Halloween, Bonfire Night and, of course, the Manchester Coffee Festival (Cup North as was). Yes, that’s right, the Manchester Coffee Festival is back, this year on Saturday/Sunday, 4th/5th November, when it will once again grace the halls of the Victoria Warehouse in Stretford.

I’ve watched the Festival evolve over the last four years. Starting out as Cup North in 2014, it was a modest, relaxed affair in a pair of adjoining rooms in Manchester’s Artwork. In 2015 it expanded to the Victoria Warehouse, occupying a rabbit warren of rooms on the first floor, feeling more like a mini London Coffee Festival, although on a much more manageable scale. Then, last year, it returned to the Victoria Warehouse, moving across the yard into a more manageable space, with a simple, figure-of-eight layout.

Whether it’s your first time or you’re wondering what this year’s festival will hold, this preview is for you. With weekend tickets for just £18, or £10 if you only want to do a single day, it really is a bargain. What are you waiting for? 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 Manchester Coffee Festival will once again grace the Victoria Warehouse.
  • Last year there was a (small) street food village just outside the front door.
  • This was significantly down on previous years due to Grub having its own venue.
  • Optimistically (this is Manchester) there's outside seating for when it's not cold/wet.
  • The main door to the venue is conveniently located to the left of the food village.
  • Inside you are greeted by the spacious (but low-ceilinged) halls of the Victoria Warehouse.
  • Last year's layout was a figure of eight, with plenty of space between the stands.
  • I took this one at the end of the first day last year, when there were no people around!
  • What's the name of the warehouse again?
  • Naturally, the main draw is the coffee and my first stop these days is my friends, Carvetii.
  • The festival is a great chance to catch up with local roasters such as Heart & Graft and...
  • ... and the wonderful Ancoats Coffee Co.
  • From slightly further afield, Liverpool's Neighbourhood Coffee, with it's surprise hit...
  • ... of last year, Nespresso-commpatible specaility coffee pods!
  • Sticking with this side of the Penniens, J Atkinson & Co. always comes down from Lancaster.
  • From the other side of the Pennines, there's North Star, all the way from Leeds...
  • Talking of Yorkshire, there's always Coopers from Huddersfield, another festival favourite.
  • London is always well represented with the likes of Union Hand-roasted...
  • ... Climpson and Sons...
  • ...and Allpress with its lovely coffee caravan, Florence.
  • Back on the west of the country, Clifton is another festival ever-present...
  • ... while the furthest travelled (in the UK, at least) is Cornwall's Origin.
  • As well as viisting roasters, where would we be without a cupping or two?
  • It wasn't all coffee. Last year Conti was showcasing its 60th Anniversary Lever Machine.
  • Meanwhile, you can always find something interesting at the La Cimbali stand.
  • Last year, Rob Ward had put together a coffee and beer tasting session.
  • As well as street food, the festival's well-endowed with cake from my friends at Cakesmiths.
  • Here's last year's well-stocked array of cakes.
  • Hot chocolate is always well-represented by old friends, Kokoa Collection.
  • And then there's always tea, here from the nearby Brew Tea Co.
  • Another important aspect for coffee is milk, championed here by Stephensons Dairy.
  • The Manchester Coffee Fesitval has always been keen on sustainability. Here's KeepCup...
  • ... who were joined by Vegware, makers of the fully-compostable coffee cup.
  • They were also joined by the home-grown Therma Cup...
  • ... which I took around the festival with me.
  • Finally, I'll leave you with one of my favourite events, the Cup Tasters' Championship...
  • ... which is back at the Manchester Coffee Festival for the third year running.
  • Here's last year's finalists: Will (Steampunk), Nicole (Climpson & Sons) & Freda (Caravan).
  • I'll leave you with my favourite photo from last year: Freda winning the Cup Tasters!
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For the third year running, the Manchester Coffee Festival will be in the Victoria Warehouse in Stretford, an easy tram-ride from the city centre if you’re coming by public transport. You can expect all the usual coffee festival fare, with plenty of speciality coffee and related kit from the numerous roasters and equipment suppliers amongst the exhibitors. There’ll be food, of course, with a range of local street food traders on hand, backed up by the likes of Coffee-Spot-feeders extraordinaire, Cakesmiths.

Assuming that the festival is in the same space as it was last year (which is by no means guaranteed), you will need to turn right when you go through the gates and then head past the street food village, which is outside to the right of the doors, always a bit of a gamble when you consider Manchester’s weather. Last year the street food village was a bit smaller than in previous years with Grub opening its own weekend market, pulling away some familiar faces.

Last year, the festival was split over multiple, interconnected spaces, making it easy to get around between the various stands. Essentially, it occupied four sides of a large square, with the middle taken up by the toilets. Entering in the bottom-right, two rows of stands ran along the bottom of the square to your left, while on the right was a seating area for the sustainability talks. The left-hand side of the square housed another seating area, which hosted the festival’s various events. Finally, the top side of the square had another dual row of stands, with a further space beyond this, also with a dual row of stands.

This layout was excellent, resulting in a very open space, with plenty of room, particularly between the rows of stands. It was also easy to move around: you could do a sweep of all the stands and seating areas in a couple of minutes, just by walking in a figure-of-eight. Even those stands tucked away in the corners or at the ends of the rows seemed to be constantly busy.

This year, the usual favourites will be back: what follows is a list of my personal highlights. For a full list of exhibitors, see the festival website.

Roasters have always been extremely well-represented at the festival, providing a chance to catch up old friends such as local roasters Heart & Graft and Ancoats, plus the likes of Yorkshire’s North Star (Leeds) and Bean Brothers (Huddersfield). Coming from the other direction, there’s Lancaster’s J Atkinson & Co. and, from even further afield, Cumbria’s Carvetii, plus, making a festival debut, North Berwick’s Steampunk Coffee.

Talking of other directions, heading up the M5 will be Has Bean (Stafford), Clifton Coffee Roasters (Bristol), Colonna (Bath) and, from even further south, Origin and Yallah Coffee (Cornwall). London, meanwhile, is well-represented with more old friends in the shape of Allpress, Climpson & Sons, Taylor Street Roasted and Union Hand-roasted. Finally, all the way from Margate in Kent are Curve Coffee Roasters.

Coffee equipment will be represented with the likes of La Cimbali, Conti and La Marzocco. Coopers will also be back with the Black Eagle espresso machine and Mythos grinders. With an eye on reusability, KeepCup returns, along with home-grown talent, Jody Leach, and his excellent Therma Cup, plus Vegware, makers of full compostable takeaway cups. Stepping back from the coffee, there will also be hot chocolate from the ever-present Kokoa Collection and tea from the nearby Brew Tea Co.

Finally, the Festival will once again host a series of events, including Tamper Tantrum talks and my personal favourite, the Cup Tasters’ Championship. So, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets now!

See you all there.

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 4th/5th November 2017

Liked this? 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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