On my first ever Coffee Spot trip to Manchester, the very first coffee shop I visited was this tiny place which I christened the Espresso Cube. Back then, there were only two speciality coffee shops in Manchester, the Espresso Cube (aka Caffeine & Co) and the venerable North Tea Power. Less than three years later and a lot has changed: the Manchester scene is booming, with multiple places opening up in the last year alone.
Caffeine & Co has also changed, opening (and closing) various stores along the way. Throughout all this, the original on St James’s Square has soldiered on with Dan, one of the nicest, cheeriest baristas in an industry full of nice, cheery baristas, at the helm. I was therefore delighted when I visited Manchester at the end of last year for the inaugural Cup North to learn that Dan was negotiating to take over the Espresso Cube from Caffeine & Co.
Dan’s plans finally came to fruition in May this year, when he renamed the coffee shop Pavé Coffee (what, I ask you, was wrong with the Espresso Cube?). Back in Manchester for this year’s Cup North, I naturally made a bee-line for Pavé.
November 2017: Pavé Coffee has undergone another name-change and is now Forté Espresso Bar, where I once again caught up with the lovely Dan.
You can see what I found after the gallery.
Regular readers will know that it always rains in Manchester. Except, of course, for the day I visited Caffeine & Co. That was the infamous day when it snowed. So, when I sauntered out of the pouring rain into Pavé Coffee last Friday morning, Dan cheerfully pointed out that the weather had improved since my first visit. I like a man who sees a bright side to any situation.
If you’ve been to the original, Pavé Coffee won’t hold many surprises. It is, after all, effectively a cube, windows at the front, counter on the left, tucked under a staircase which intrudes from elsewhere in the building, with a narrow bar around the other two walls. Short of knocking through to one of the neighbouring premises, there wasn’t much Dan could do with the space.
If anything, it felt smaller than I remembered it, perhaps because Dan had replaced the mirror on the back wall with a picture. Other than that, and the new name, there aren’t many changes. It still has far more seats outside than in, an optimistic state of affairs for Manchester. However, if you do manage to dodge the showers, there are a pair of tables, complete with benches, outside the window, while off to the right, another two benches, complete with three tables, perch at a ridiculous angle on the steep street. If I was sitting there, I’d be tempted to glue my cup to the table to stop it sliding off…
Back inside and you find the main reason to visit Pavé Coffee: the ever-cheerful Dan. Well, I say ever-cheerful; perhaps he’s just the opposite of the Manchester weather. Maybe if I visited on a sunny day (whatever one of those is), he’d be really grumpy… Regardless, I could easily spend all day sitting on a stool at the bar, chatting with Dan.
The other reason to visit is the coffee, from London’s Square Mile, with Red Brick an ever-present on the espresso machine. Dan now has three grinders and is toying with the idea of running three different espressos. Current thinking is Square Mile’s Sweetshop, to go with the Red Brick, plus a regularly-rotating guest roaster. If you don’t want coffee, there’s always loose-leaf tea from Lancaster’s J Atkinson & Co., plus some lovely-looking cake from The Brownie Owl & Ginger Tart.
I’ve not always had the best of luck with Red Brick, but the cortado Dan made me was perfect, with some lovely milk. Being Red Brick, it was sharper than I’m used to, but had great balance, the coffee cutting through the milk and providing a nice contrast to the sweet flat white I’d started my day with at Grindsmith.
Don’t forget to take a look at the original Caffeine & Co Coffee Spot, which includes the original write-up and gallery. Pavé Coffee also won the 2015 Coffee Spot Award for Smallest Coffee Spot and was a runner-up for the Happiest Staff Award.
|11 ST JAMES’S SQUARE • MANCHESTER • M2 6WE|
|Monday||07:45 – 16:00||Roaster||Square Mile (espresso only)|
|Tuesday||07:45 – 16:00||Seating||Bar, Benches outside|
|Wednesday||07:45 – 16:00||Food||Cake|
|Thursday||07:45 – 16:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||07:45 – 16:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||10:00 – 16:00||Wifi||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||Original: 18th January 2013|
|Update: 6th November 2015, 3rd November 2017|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Manchester’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Manchester.
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