The North West has always had an excellent culinary reputation, but in recent years a number of wonderful coffee spots have sprung up to provide a layer of classy, Italian or Austrian style coffee-centric relaxation to its cities. Even afternoon tea has started to get taken over with coffee versions! Hence using the image above, during a recent coffee fueled afternoon tea session with a difference.
Whether you’re from the North West or the surrounding areas, or somewhere completely different but you’re visiting the North West, there’s a few coffee haunts you have to go and check out
Of course, making your own coffee is a great experience, and there’s plenty of ways to personalise coffee. But for when you feel like going out and treating yourself to a delicious shop-bought java, its good to know what to look for, and where. So here’s a little guidance…
What Makes Good Coffee?
There are a few elements that you need to consider in order to make sure you’re getting a great cup of coffee. First off, is the quality of the blend. You want to make sure you’re getting freshly ground, or frozen grounds. This should be obvious from observing the baristas and the fresh coffee beans you can see them ‘working’ with. It’s also worth considering trying out better-tasting Fairtrade coffee.
Secondly, you want to make sure the quality of the equipment a coffee barista uses is of the best quality. There’s an argument that drip coffee is some of the most delicious, and there are various suitable automatic drip coffee makers out there. Cost isn’t necessarily the issue here, but build, so don’t think that the flashiest coffee shop with the shiniest machine is necessarily the best.
If you’re a fan or the foamy, frothy coffees like I am (give me a latte any day!) look at how them steam the milk in professional, metal jugs. Also keep an eye out that baristas don’t use the same jug – unwashed – to switch from semi-skimmed milk to soya, to coconut and almond. Vegans can be particularly bothered by this, which make sense.
There is a coffee shop in Manchester called Foundation, who do the nicest Matcha Lattes with almond milk. Basically, mathc is a powered green tea packed with nutrition, and you can have these with or without coffee, depending on how strong you like your drinks. I find this a healthier alternative when I want a break from strong coffee, and expertly ran coffee shops in the North West are starting to offer these more.
I mentioned Foundation coffee house before as being a personal favourite, but there are sooooo many in Manchester. Manchester has benefited from the coffee craze completely, especially with its trendy areas like the Northern Quarter, who have jumped on the trend, and now there are dozens of independent Manchester coffee shops.
An old time favourite of mine is also North Tea Power, who for example, are one of the pioneers of the coffee and tea house scene in Manchester, serving up the full range of products. They also have speedy free wifi! For the hikers and cyclists, there is the Gatley-based Coffee Fix which is situated on a great outdoors route. Simply named but effective, they have a particular penchant for new-fangled brewing methods and machines.
Coffee to go
And lets not forget our favourite takeout coffee! Manchester is now home to a coffee shop on practically every corner, be it an independant chain or high street brand. For me, Starbucks always wins for their smooth coffee and various adaptions to the norm (for example, their Christmas blends and Autumnal versions). or those who love stronger coffee’s, you’ll probably benefit from Cafe Nero, who use a two shots of espresso as standard in all drinks.
A Slimmer Coffee?
One of my predictions for the future of coffee shops is to start a new slim blend, taking inspiration from some of the at-home products on the market. I’m currently trying out this Skinny Caffe version, which you can see below, which I’ll be updating you on soon!
Down The Road
Liverpool has also gathered a reputation as a foodie haven ever since its remarkable redevelopment over the past couple of decades. Replete with this reputation is a burgeoning coffee scene, especially going towards the packed Old Hall St business district and in the trendy Ropewalks area. There are plenty of options, whether you prefer chilled out or super-busy, on-the-go experiences.
Some of the best coffee in Liverpool is found in Italian-style espresso bars, such as Bold Street’s eponymous coffee outlet. Many outlet here operate in the same manner; packed, fast and delicious, offering excellent drip and espresso coffee at short notice.
Which coffee shop is your very favourite? Feel free to comment below and inform me! Especially if it sits in Manchester, as I’m always looking for new coffee shops to explore around the city…