Way back in May 2016 I wrote about three of my favourite Manchester coffee shops, all of which I continue to haunt on a regular basis. However, since moving to the city centre, I’ve discovered a few new absolute gems that I’ve been dying to share with you.
I spend way too much time at Porter & Cole. It’s where I’m writing this blog post, and I don’t know if it’s the welcoming atmosphere, the incredible coffee and cakes or the fact that the eponymous spaniel Cole is sat underneath my chair, but I love it here. Big lollopy Porter is chilling on the other side of the room, with one of the owners keeping a close eye on him because he can get a bit excited. The guys who run the place are lovely, and this coffee shop slash lifestyle store is their latest project together.
Everything, from the stunning golden cutlery to the plants and cushions is for sale, and I’m seriously considering buying everything. The decor is all concrete and plush seating, with a pistachio green and grey theme running throughout. It’s a warm environment, often full of young families at the weekend and friends of the owners. The dogs are always around, and there’s always at least one person (usually me) beetling away on a laptop in the corner. The cakes are incredible; I’m a fan of the little pistachio and raspberry creation that’s often available, and my boyfriend loves the chocolate and hazelnut tart. There are always vegan and gluten-free options available, including the chocolate and blackberry cheesecake pictured which is heavenly. They have a small hot food menu available on weekends, and I’ve been eyeing up the French onion soup for a while and it looks amazing. Porter & Cole is also occasionally open for evening events, serving alcohol and providing great music.
Siop Shop is a pretty no-frills place that serves the best doughnuts in Manchester. The doughnuts are switched up daily, but we tried the tiramisu, blackcurrant and peanut butter doughnuts, all of which were incredible. I expected the peanut butter one to be stodgy, but it was just the right amount of sweetness and the dough is extraordinarily light. The tiramisu was a revelation, and at just £2.50 a pop I’ll be keeping an eye out for other flavours to try when I pass by.
They also have a decent brunch menu featuring some yummy-looking pancakes and bara brith, if you hadn’t already picked up on the Welsh influence. Lunch is a maximum of a fiver and includes things like lentil dahl, freshly made savoury tarts and a soup of the day. Coffee and tea is served in hearty mugs and pretty cheaply for the Northern Quarter, and overall it’s a chilled out place to eat and catch up with people. The music is a pretty cool selection of noise rock, which my boyfriend appreciated, but played at the perfect volume level so that you can enjoy it but still talk easily, which is often hard to find. It’s not a place people linger, being more of a traditional cafe rather than the sort of millennial coffee shop where we spend several hours working on our side-hustles. I loved it, and the delicious cheap food makes it worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Bonbon has been a feature in my life for a while now, as I often used to drop by and pick up a few of my boyfriend’s favourite salted caramels. They’ve just moved to a pop-up location on Oldham St, but they’re only there until the end of March. They make the best hot chocolate in Manchester and are purveyors of all things cocoa, so this is definitely one to check out if you like the sweet stuff.
They’re loosely themed around the Mexican Day of the Dead, but it’s really just a slightly alternative vibe with a Mexican bent. It has a warm interior, all black walls and floors, with huge windows onto the busy streets of the Northern Quarter. It’s best for a pit stop and a chin-wag rather than working for a few hours, but it’s one of my favourite places to call in for a coffee and a rest after a busy day in town, with maybe a cheeky slice of cake. The peanut butter sandwich pictured is great, and the flourless chocolate cake is amazing but so dense my boyfriend couldn’t finish it.
These three coffee shops are very different in vibe, but I absolutely love them all. If I fancy a cheap bite to eat, it’s straight to Siop Shop, if I’m craving chocolate Bonbon is the logical answer, and Porter and Cole is my default location for getting shit done with a cake and coffee as motivation. Definitely three to check out when you’re next in the Northern Quarter.