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.

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Made by Hand Coffee Pop-up, UniQlo

One of Made by [H]and Coffee's handmade Kalita Wave filters brewing away at it's pop-up in UniQlo on Oxford Street in March 2017.Normally, I’m reluctant to feature a pop-up on the Coffee Spot. However, when that pop-up is by renowned roasters, Has Bean, and it’s the first Has Bean coffee shop in 14 years, I’ll make an exception. I also wouldn’t normally visit a shop two days after it had opened, but when it’s only open for 72 days, time is of the essence.

So it was that on Monday, I popped down to Oxford Street to visit Made by Hand Coffee ([H]AND for short). Located on the third floor of the UniQlo clothing store, [H]AND is tucked away at the back, but easy enough to find. There’s a simple coffee bar, grinders at either end, a row of four Kalita Wave filters between them. Personally, in that sort of setting, I prefer standing up at the bar to drink my coffee, but if you want to sit down, there’s a cluster of four sumptuous armchairs around a coffee table (with USB power sockets).

However, the coffee’s the star, with a choice of four single-origin pour-overs. You can pick one or have a tasting flight of three. Similarly there are four teas, with the same offer on the table. And that’s it.

June 2017: [H]AND has now closed. Hopefully it will reappear somewhere at some point in the future, so watch this space!

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Idle Hands Pop-up

The Idle Hands logo, taken from the A-board outside the pop-up on Dale Street.Idle Hands started as a long-term pop-up by Manchester’s Piccadilly Station. I had a hit-and-miss relationship with Idle Hands, constantly turning up when it was closed before finally visiting during last year’s Cup North. Idle Hands moved out earlier this year, finding a temporary home with barbers Mr Beardmore in the building on Dale Street that will become its permanent home. Eventually.

The building’s being redeveloped, and, in a tale of woe which you can read on Idle Hands’ website, the opening date has been pushed back and back. Originally scheduled to move in permanently by the end of October, this now looks like early next year. In the meantime, the developer has allowed Idle Hands to move into 32 Dale Street, in the space next door to its future permanent home of 34 Dale Street. It’s a bit makeshift, but at least Idle Hands is back and serving coffee!

July 2017: By now, Idle Hands should have been in its new, permanent home, but at the last moment, the landlord pulled the plug on the deal. It’s not clear what the long-term future is for Idle Hands, but the good news is that Dave and Lucy have picked themselves up and are now back serving coffee and pie every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Grub in Manchester. You can see what I found when I visited in August.

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Look Mum No Hands! South Bank Pop-up 2016

"Look mum no hands!", written on the side of the south-bank pop-up.It’s that time of year again: summer’s on the way (although as I write this, I’ve had the heating on and it poured with rain all day) and the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up has once again appeared under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank. A fixture since 2013, the Look Mum No Hand’s pop-up joins the (sort of) all-year-round options of the Beany Green container and Bean About Town at the Real Food Market. When I last visited, in 2014, Look Mum No Hands! had already expanded considerably since its first year. Unexpectedly finding myself in London last Saturday, I naturally made a bee-line for Queen’s Walk to see what had changed this time around.

I’m pleased to say that this year, Look Mum No Hands! is bigger than ever before, with an expanded seating area under the cover of the bridge and even more food/drink options. There’s the ubiquitous Red Brick on espresso from Square Mile, plus an impressive range of craft beers and cider on tap, backed up with Pimms, prosecco, gin & tonic, vodka & tonic and wine by the glass. There’s cake and pastries, plus, if you’re really hungry, hot dogs, including a vegetarian version.

October 2016: Look Mum No Hands! has gone for another year and sadly it looks like that might be it for now…

May 2017: I checked under Hungerford Bridge and there’s no sign of Looks Mum No Hands! this year. There is a bar down there in the spot which Looks Mum No Hands! normally occupies, which suggests, sadly, that it won’t be coming back this year…

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Look Mum No Hands! South Bank Pop-up Update

"Look mum no hands!", written on the side of the south-bank pop-up.You know it’s summer when the Look Mum No Hands! pop-up appears under Hungerford Bridge on London’s South Bank. So, on the second sunny Sunday in June, I took the train up to Waterloo, headed north to the river and then, eschewing my normal route, popped down under the bridge where Look Mum No Hands! is in its second year of operation.

Last year’s set-up was fairly impressive, but this year it’s been expanded, with a larger, more permanent seating area and a bigger caravan. This houses the espresso machine (which was in a separate trailer last time) and an array of craft beers, as well as soft drinks. There’s also cake, crisps, bananas and, new this year, the option of a ploughman’s platter.

Although I’ve termed Look Mum No Hands! a pop-up, that does it something of an injustice. With the expanded seating area and the fact it’s under the bridge, it has a pretty permanent feel to it. On all but the coldest days, treating it as a sit-down café is a viable (and, on a sunny day, a lovely) option. One downside is that the coffee is only served in takeaway cups, but you can’t have everything!

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Look Mum No Hands South Bank Pop-up

An espresso in one of the lovely Look Mum No Hands mugs. Sadly if you want one of these for real, you'll need to go to the Old Street store, not the pop-up on the South Bank.In another new venture for the Saturday Supplement, I present the first ever Saturday Short. Saturday Shorts are Coffee Spots in their own right, but for which I can’t justify a full write-up.

This first Saturday Short comes courtesy of Look Mum No Hands!, something of a legend on the London coffee scene, if only for its interesting name (it’s up there with Bristol’s Didn’t You Do Well in those stakes). I’ve long wanted to try it out, but have never had the time/reason/excuse.

So, imagine my surprise and delight when, on a whim, I decided to walk across the Hungerford Bridge (which connects Waterloo and Charing Cross Stations) on the Parliament rather than the St Paul’s side.  Cutting across to the other side of the bridge I spotted an interesting-looking coffee stall nestling under the bridge itself… And the rest, as they say, is history…

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Guerra Coffee, Guildford

Guerra Coffee's first pop-up is in Guildford, on Friary Street, just at the bottom of the High StreetGuildford has a pop-up espresso bar! How exciting is that? For some reason, I associate pop-up espresso bars (or pop-up anything) with places such as London, Edinburgh or Bristol, not my home town of Guildford, so I, for one, was very excited.

Guerra Coffee has only been going for a few weeks, having sneakily waited until I was out of the country before opening. For those unfamiliar with the pop-up movement, the idea is to occupy unused space, often on a temporary basis. In that vein, Guerra Coffee shares space with the Limelight Portrait Studios on Friary Street, just off the bottom of Guildford’s High Street. However, I get the impression that Guerra would like to be more permanent than the typical pop-up.

Guerra’s focus is firmly on the coffee, with a mission to bring great coffee to a variety of locations (see the Guerra website for more details). It’s great to see Guerra opening up in Guildford, but whether Guildford is equally passionate about good coffee remains to be seen…

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