AS SOON as Pot Kettle Black opened its doors on Friday 3 October the coffeehouse characters got settled right in.
"When Jon and I were looking for a place to set up we immediately fell in love with Barton Arcade - it was the high ceilings and windows."
Once midday arrived spectacled women clutching bestsellers snapped up the comfy chairs, suits gathered for afternoon meetings and students parked themselves down looking for outlets to plug in their phones. I was there to fill the ‘writer with a notepad’ archetype.
One day in and the new independent coffee shop was good and busy.
Pot Kettle Black is set to add a little vigor and bustle to the Barton Arcade.
Inside the glass fronted coffeehouse, designers have stuck with original features, embracing the beautifully detailed Victorian back-drop of the historic arcade. It has a ‘new store’ finish, yet manages to feels classic and cosy with low hanging lights and sultry spaces to both work and relax. The uniformed staff are professional and welcoming with matching smiles and happy pleasantries.
Pot Kettle Black (or PKB) is a coffee venture by St Helens rugby duo Jon Wilkin and Mark 'The Flash' Flanagan. I’d find that they both have a passion for beans as big as their beef'n'brawn
Inspired by Flanagan’s time playing rugby in Australia (where he discovered the flat white was the choice amongst coffee lovers), they aimed to bolster the independent coffee offering outside of the Northern Quarter.
“I’m so happy with the turn out today,” said Flanagan. “Hopefully a new coffee shop will encourage more people to spend more time inside this beautiful building.
“When Jon and I were looking for a place to set up we immediately fell in love with Barton Arcade - it was the high ceilings and windows. We decided to keep a lot of the space as it was, we wanted to flatter the original features,” he added.
"We also felt the area was crying out for more independents to contend with all the major chains on Deansgate. We wanted to provide something different for all the people who worked and shopped in the area."
By different, Flanagan and Wilkin are promising to offer up a far less bitter blend of coffee than found in Starbucks, Costa Coffee and the like. The coffee comes from Workshop Coffee in London.
As they state on the website: "We want to challenge what is currently perceived as 'good coffee'. Over roasted, burnt and smoky flavours will be replaced by a lighter and much more delicate roast. The natural fruity tones of the coffee cherry will be extracted. Our suppliers are constantly tasting for consistency and we want to pass on their expertise to you. If you want the science we can talk about it. If you just want a good brew thats fine by us too."
We tried the coffee, and were met with delightfully smooth textured flavours that weren't overly bitter, as promised. Indeed the editor says, "The coffee carries that sweet rich fruit of proper arabica beans: it's immediately one of the best caffiene hits in the city."
Prices average around the £3 mark for coffees, same going for the locally sourced selection of soups, sandwiches and cakes.
Full review to follow.
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Find Pot Kettle Black Unit 14, Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester