Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor

Details of the main drive wheel of the 100 year old, fully working Uno coffee roaster at Atkinsons in Mackie Mayor in Manchester.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.

  • The soaring halls of Manchester's Mackie Mayor, a Victorian market hall, dating from 1857.
  • However, we're going over here, in the western corner, where we'll find Atkinsons.
  • If you enter from Mackie Mayor itself, the counter is immediately to your the left.
  • Long and thin, the counter runs all the way down one side with a series of windows...
  • ... down the other side. There's a door directly opposite, then a four-person window-bar.
  • Atkinson has wonderfully high ceilings by the way.
  • There's a second window bar after the pillar. This one is longer, eight people in all.
  • It runs all the way to the corner...
  • ... and finishes with a four-person window-bar along the back wall, ending at another door.
  • A view of the counter, looking back from the far corner.
  • However, that's not all, because Atkinsons continues around the corner in an L-shape.
  • The counter continues around the corner too, where there's seating and a whole lot more!
  • Tables line the windows at the bottom of the L, with retail shelves on the wall opposite.
  • There are a couple of four-person tables in the windows...
  • ... and beyond them, in the far corner, there's this beauty.
  • It's a fully working, vintage, open-flame drum roaster, maunfactured by Uno in 1919.
  • It really is a thing of beauty. If you can catch it in action, you definitely should.
  • A last look at the roaster.
  • More vintage machinery, this time an old cylinder espresso machine. Not working, this time.
  • There are retail shelves, opposite the roaster, with the usual mix of coffee kit...
  • ... and retail bags, including a full range of Atkinsons' blends and single-origins.
  • However, it's not just coffee, since Atkinsons is both coffee roaster and tea merchant.
  • The tea part of the operation is on the end of the counter, around the corner of the L.
  • There's a list of teas on the wall, while I really liked the old cannisters.
  • The tea, however, is down below in glass jars.
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot.
  • I was there in the evening, when the lights were joined by table lights in jam jars.
  • The counter is L-shaped too, with the coffee along the top part of the L.
  • The cake, meanwhile, is on the corner...
  • ... followed by the chocolate, soft drinks and beer.
  • Back on the main part of the counter, there's the espresso machine and its twin grinders...
  • ... with a comprehensive menu on the wall behind the espresso machine.
  • Talking of which, the espresso machine, a Mk 2.0 Opera, is worth a second look.
  • Next comes an EK-43 grinder and four SP9 automatic pour-over machines.
  • Cocktail ingredients and Chemex on the wall behind the counter.
  • Talking of which, here's the full cocktail menu.
  • Atkinsons has two Mythos 1 grinders, the first of which has the Prototype blend...
  • ... while the second has the decaf. It's nice to see it being given equal prominence.
  • I was there with fellow coffee blogger, Charlotte Scotland, hence the two coffees.
  • We also had cake. Charlotte had a brownie, while I had this, an almondi.
  • The perils of visiting with a fellow coffee blogger...
  • The arm that launched a thousand instagrams...
  • That was Charlotte's flat white, made with the Prototype blend. Lovely latte art.
  • Meanwhile, I had a decaf cortado.
  • I'll leave you with our coffees, enjoying the candlelight.
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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 +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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2 thoughts on “Atkinsons, Mackie Mayor

  1. Pingback: Presta Coffee, Mercado San Augustin | Brian's Coffee Spot

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