No, don’t worry if the name sounds familiar, it should. I mean, aside from anything else, I’ve been writing Heart & Graft on and off for ages. I’ve reviewed their coffee, judged in a coffee cupping hosted at their roastery, and baked using their beans. It’s been a coming together of geeks and for me, a massive learning process. Through their expertise I’ve learned loads about how coffee is made – from bean to cup. I’ve learned how to pick up different notes in flavour, created through the processing of the bean, the roasting, and then how they change through how you make your brew.
And I’ve also learned how to make that brew. In fact, truth be told, it’s all James’ fault. He encouraged me to buy my first Aeropress, and then a V60 and… Yeah. Another thing for me to get a little geeky over.
So, when they finally opened their cafe in Salford, I had to head over for a visit. I’d seen the videos on their Instagram of it in progress, then the first brews being served. So on a quiet Saturday (when all the other coffee geeks were at Cup North), I headed over for a nosey.
And my first challenge was finding it.
Of course, that proved easier than I expected. Over to Spinningfields, across the bridge in front of the Lowry Hotel, down the side and it’s there.
No? Look a little closer.
Inside it’s warm, cosy and smells of freshly brewed coffee. There’s a big rustic wooden table at the back in front of a projector screen, which was showing coffee related YouTube, obviously. There is, as you’d expect a selection of coffees on offer, a variety of methods for drinking them – you can go for something white and frothy, something short, dark and delicious, or as I did, try the filter coffee. It’s a little lighter, lets the bean shine, and you don’t feel over satiated with one. Oh and they have a really good selection of nibbles on hand too. Including a pretty damn delicious Parkin.
Upstairs, there’s a light and airy space, free colouring in sheets (grown ups are encouraged to join in), cute nooks and crannies. And lots of baby coffee plants. That’s the thing about H&G they care about everyone and everything that goes into coffee. Not just where they source the beans, but who grows them. They are genuinely some of the loveliest people I’ve met, and no, that’s not just my love of their coffee talking.
As it was so beautifully quiet, I got to chat to Josh, talk about coffee, cake, running, lifting, and well, stuff. Normally I expect it’ll be far busier (coffee geeks assemble), but it was so nice to be able to take advantage of the quiet on a dank, distinctly grey Saturday. And because I stuck to their filter coffee (again, try it, honestly, it’s worth it), I happily snaffled another cup and sat a while longer, chatting some more, and watching Josh as their already now regulars popped in and out for a brew or two.
I have absolutely no doubt this is going to be a success. Not only are this lot bloody lovely, so is their coffee. And they’ll have those who visit from afar just to go and see them, and there’ll be those who just wander past and grab a brew on the way somewhere else.
And that fits. Because there are some coffee shops I go to to meet people. And there are some I go to to work. Those I go to for a quick hit of caffeine. And there are those I go to to linger, to step away for a while – and this is one of those places.