I’ve had something of a hit-and-miss relationship with Atkinsons, the Lancaster-based coffee roaster and tea merchant. I’ve enjoyed Atkinsons’ coffee over the years and regularly run into the team at events such as the Manchester Coffee Festival. I even made a special stop in Lancaster in 2017 to visit one of the three Atkinson coffee shops there, but was foiled by IT problems which delayed my arrival until gone midnight…
I was therefore delighted when Atkinsons opened a coffee shop in the restored Mackie Mayor, Manchester’s old meat market, which dates from 1857. I even stayed on an extra day after the 2017 Manchester Coffee Festival in order to visit, only to find that Mackie Mayor, and hence Atkinsons, closes on Mondays…
Undaunted, I returned in 2018, this time before the Manchester Coffee Festival. Along with fellow coffee blogger, Charlotte Scotland (blogging as Coffee All Way), we paid Atkinsons a visit one Friday evening, taking advantage of its late opening hours. Along with a full espresso-based menu, with a choice of blend or decaf, there’s pour-over through the SP9, a selection of cake and cocktails, and, perhaps best of all, a working 100 year old Uno roaster in the corner!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Let’s start with a few words about Mackie Mayor, located in the northern end of the Northern Quarter. Built in 1857 as Manchester’s meat market, it’s a glorious building with a central, square courtyard open to the soaring glass roof, surrounded on all sides by open galleries and a first-floor balcony. Derelict since closing in the 1970s, it was lovingly restored in 2016 by the team behind Altrincham market.
Now it’s a major foodie heaven, with Atkinsons joined by nine other food/drink-related businesses. You can order from any of them and sit at the communal tables in the courtyard, up on the balcony, or outside if you like. You can also take your coffee to any of these places, or bring food from the various outlets into Atkinsons (a set-up which reminds me of Presta Coffee in Tucson’s Mercado San Augustin).
Mackie Mayor faces the ring road, with Atkinsons occupying an L-shaped spot on the outside of the market’s western corner, along the short, quiet Eagle Street. It has three doors, two of which are at the top of the L. The first of these leads in from Eagle Street, half way along Mackie Mayor, while the second, opposite, opens into the central courtyard. The third, meanwhile, is at the bottom of the L, again opening onto the street.
The layout is simple, with the coffee shop’s L-shape matched by an L-shaped counter. This runs along the inside wall, starting at the two doors at the top and ending just around the corner. The outside walls, which have all the seating, are punctuated at regular intervals by tall, wide windows, particularly along the bottom of the L.
There’s a four-person window bar just to the right as you come in from Eagle Street, followed by an eight-person window-bar which continues around the corner and along the bottom with another four seats. Finally, after the door, there is a pair of four-person tables, beyond which is a retail area for tea, coffee and various bits of kit. Best of all, though, is the vintage Uno coffee roaster, dating from 1919 and lovingly restored by Atkinsons, which takes pride of place in the window. This is used about once a week for production roasting on some of Atkinsons single-origin coffees.
In contrast to the vintage roaster, the rest of the coffee kit is bang up-to-date, with a Sanremo Opera Mk 2.0 espresso machine, twin Mythos 1 grinders (house-blend and decaf), an EK43 for filter and four Marco Beverage System SP9 automatic coffee brewers which provide pour-over through either the Kalita Wave or Chemex.
When it comes to espresso, Atkinsons features one of its blends (Archetype, Stereotype, or, during our visit, Prototype), while there’s decaf (a Colombian Swiss Water process while we were there) on the second grinder. For pour-over, there’s a selection of single-origins which are listed on the menu board. We had a choice of four, two from Nicaragua and one each from Ethiopia and Myanmar.
I would have loved to try the Myanmar, but it was late, so I opted for a very rich, smooth and well-balanced decaf cortado, while Charlotte (who doesn’t sleep as far as I can tell) had the Prototype blend in a flat white with Minor Figures oat milk. She declared it to be very smooth and the perfect way to finish off the day.
I paired my coffee with an almondi cake, which was like a small, cylindrical meringue. It was excellent and chewy (in a good way) and while Charlotte had a brownie, my notes failed to capture her opinions of it.
December 2019: Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor was a runner-up for the 2019 Best Flat White Award.
|MACKIE MAYOR • 1 EAGLE STREET • MANCHESTER • M4 5BU|
|https://thecoffeehopper.com||+44 (0) 1524 65470|
|Monday||CLOSED||Roaster||Atkinsons (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 22:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bars, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 22:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 22:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||09:00 – 23:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 23:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||09:00 – 20:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||2nd November 2018|
Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to Manchester & Salford for more great Coffee Spots.
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