The Build-Outs of Summer is always a global affair, and we are happy to bring your our first international entry for 2018. This one has been almost 200 years in the making. Atkinsons Coffee Roasters began its life many, many moons ago as a Lancaster, England-based importer of tea and spices and exporter of roasted coffee. Now, some 180+ years later, Atkinsons has refined it aim to only include specialty coffee and teas and they've got a brand new build-out to boot.
Setting up shop inside the Mackie Mayor in Manchester—a dining hall-type establishment featuring a handful of restaurants, wine bars, breweries, and of course a coffee shop—this is the fourth cafe for Atkinsons, their first outside Lancaster. And with their white Sanremo Opera with matching Nuova Simonelli Mythos One grinders, this new location is a thing of beauty. So grab a steamed bun from neighboring Baohouse and check out the brand new Atkinsons Coffee Roasters inside the Mackie Mayor in Manchster, England.
As told to Sprudge by Caspar Steel.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Atkinsons started out in 1837 in Lancaster importing tea and spices and roasting coffee, most of which was shipped straight into the Georgian port at the time. Fast forward about 170 years and speciality coffee is just about to kick off (again!) in the UK. Since 2010 we have opened The Music Room cafe, The Hall cafe, and our new eco-roastery which houses our new Loring Kestral, which sits between The Hall and our original shop, which has been on that site since 1901. Our newest project is our first venture into a different city with the Mackie Mayor in Manchester.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The Mackie Mayor was built in 1858 as part of Manchester’s Smithfield Markets and has now been developed by the folks behind Altrincham Market, into a food hall with 500 covers and 10 different independent businesses. Our roastery cafe occupies one corner of the building, lined with floor to ceiling windows and super high ceilings. Our concept was to bring some of our 180-year legacy to the Mancs and also showcase all things new and exciting in speciality coffee. As there are 500 seats inside the food hall, this meant we could dedicate most of our space to one obscenely long bar, kind of like an alter to the coffee gods. The room is an L-shape, and round the corner from the bar is our Shop and Roastery where we usually have about 10 coffees, all roasted onsite, 20 teas, and a wide range of brew methods from the likes of Torch, Hasami, Hario, Wilfa, Munieq, Moon Rabbit, and some local pottery wares too. The cladding of the bar is a homage to the Georgian counter in our shop, our menu board was made by local makers and mates Super Marché, and we have 10 Victorian canisters from our original Shop storing fresh roasts.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Over the last 12 years we’ve managed to visit a lot the producers we work with at origin and now most of our 20-ish coffees are Relationship Coffees, and there’s always tonnes of interesting stories behind them. Telling these stories is really important, so we include as much of this as we can on the bags, printed postcards, the website, and blog, but mostly in conversation with our baristas at the bar and our weekly public cuppings that are free. In the last cafe we opened, The Hall, we put a big focus on brew methods, using syphons and Chemexes to engage customers with black coffee, but this time around we wanted to simplify the brewing and put more focus on the coffees themselves. So here offer four to five single origins all brewed on Marco SP9’s with Kalitas, we also offer two different espressos that change regularly, nitro cold brew coffee and tea, kombucha made with our tea, and coffee- and tea-based cocktails.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
A few years ago we found a tiny little roaster, almost exactly the same as our original Shop roaster but smaller, a 1919 Uno 7lb. This little 99-year-old guy now roasts up all of the coffee on-site for our new location! Uno doesn’t exist anymore so to get this little beauty up and running we teamed up the Lancaster University’s 3D printing guys and the genius who installed our Loring Roaster last year, Malcolm Qualeri. On our white marble bar we have a white three-group Sanremo Opera with scales, three white Nuova Simonelli Mythos One grinders, a white Mahlkönig EK43, and 4 custom white Marco SP9s and an under-counter Marco Mix.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened the doors to serve coffee in November as a long soft launch, and this May we finally finished the Roastery and Shop to complete the full picture!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
My brother Maitland and I designed the cafe and we worked with Ducketts for the build out. They’ve now built three cafes with us and a beautiful Roastery. We also worked with local sign writer Gregg Johnson for the artwork on our walls, Super Marché for the menu wall, and Malcolm Qualeri for the roaster rebuild.
The Build-Outs Of Summer is an annual series on Sprudge. Live the thrill of the build all summer long in our Build-Outs feature hub.