The best coffee shops, like caffeine itself, should be mildly addictive. For our daily cup we’re looking for consistency and passion as well as flavour. We are very keen on friendly service and we want imagination as well as craft from the kitchen. It seems odd that two of our favourites are not nominated for a Manchester Food and Drink Award. In the case of Caffeine & Co, this is certainly because it’s too new, but no Trove? Do us a favour.

Any list like this is always going to be subjective and we actually hope you disagree with us – that means you’re using a great café too. Manchester needs more great coffee shops and hopefully in years to come this selection will be the tip of a much larger caffeinated iceberg.

1. Caffeine & Co serves the best espresso and espresso and milk drinks currently available in Manchester. In recent weeks they are the only place to serve us a coffee that we would call pretty much perfect. This city-centre newcomer has created a genuinely friendly and charming environment within its tiny walls and if you’re lucky enough to grab one of its six indoor stools then the service is lovely. They brew Square Mile’s Red Brick espresso, which is one of the best in the game – something we favour over the Has Bean blends that dominate the city’s other specialists. Don’t go here expecting a huge range of choice, go to sample the difference a little home production makes and assume that like the coffee, all of the homemade cakes, salads and sandwiches will excel. Caffeine & Co, 11 St James’ Square, M2 6DN, @caffeineandco

2. Let’s hope the residents of Gatley and Cheadle realise how fortunate they are to have a local café like Coffee Fix – on their doorstep. There is no suburb in the UK that wouldn’t be improved by having this café in it. They also have the best overall coffee product in Manchester. Here you can choose from three different beans and multiple brewing methods, and their passion for what they do shines through. This is a family café and the classic sandwich range never disappoints. Accompaniments like homemade pickle and a gently roasted whole tomato are truly delicious. Coffee Fix, 80 Church Road, Gatley, SK8 4NQ,

3. Levenshulme’s Trove is our third pick. The other two cafés might make better coffee (never fear, it’s decent here), but it’s the range of homemade products here – especially the bread, pickles and jams – that really set this place apart. Trove’s owners are obviously passionate about sourcing produce locally, and they create delicious homemade seasonal grub that’s extremely competitively priced for what it is. Add to this an ideal hang-out for the hipper end of the local crowd with a large sharing table and you have the perfect recipe for a special place. They are also now serving pizzas on Saturday and Sunday nights to rapturous response – and you can take your own booze. Trove, 1032 Stockport Road, Levenshulme, M19 3EX,

For a deeper look at the indie coffee scene going mainstream, comparing North Tea Power and Caffeine & Co with the high street chains, click here. We’re not being snobs when we urge you, if you do not already, to use these cafés and the other indies like North Tea Power, The Art Of Tea and Home Sweet Home and shun the chains. Do it for the quality, the passion and the flavour but most of all do it for value for money.

About the writers: Substance is a youth culture magazine, bringing sharp and intelligent music, fashion and politics stories to the Twitter generation. Visit our website at or contact us at and @Substance_mag.

Photo: Double rosetta at Coffee Fix, by Has Bean

The Substance Team
Published on:
Fri 21 Sep 2012