Word has it that Manchester is the second-most coffee-obsessed city in these United States, behind only Portland, Me. Who knew? Compared to Portland (or the cities of the Pacific Northwest), Manchester isn’t exactly teeming with coffee shops, cafes and coffee culture. It’s hard to turn a corner in Portland, Me., without coming across a local coffee shop or roaster. Even Burlington, Vt., which ranks third behind Manchester and Portland, has a more established coffee scene.
The Men’s Health article that placed Manchester second considered “percentage of households that own coffeemakers and buy coffee; household average spent on coffee; coffee shops per capita; percentage of people who drink coffee and who drink five-plus cups a day” in determining their rankings. With the prevalence of Dunkin’ Donuts–41 within a ten-mile radius of Manchester–and the space devoted to coffee in Manchester’s supermarkets, the ranking makes a bit more sense.
But there has never been a better time to be a coffee drinking in the Queen City than now. Within the past few years, downtown Manchester has seen a resurgence of locally owned coffee shops serving locally roasted coffee. And the rise in coffee roasters hasn’t been far behind, with the Millyard-based Java Tree/Cafe du Jour supplying many local restaurants, and CQ Roasters in Bedford recently being honored for roasting some of the best coffees of 2013.
Downtown has gone from being dominated by Dunkin’ Donuts and other mass-roasted coffees just a few years ago to now being home to at least half-a-dozen cafes and coffee shops, with more bakeries and restaurants also serving locally roasted coffee as well. With cafes like J. Dubs, Cafe la Reine, City Cafe, Waterworks Cafe and Baked opening in recent years, and Republic, Dancing Lion and Finesse among others offering high-quality coffee in different environments, it’s clear that good, locally roasted coffee is on the rise in Manchester.
It’s not just downtown either. While most neighborhoods in Manchester lack a good, local cafe, a growing number of businesses are selling locally roasted coffee (in either beans or cups), from the Bakeshop on Kelley Street in Rimmon Heights to the Farm & Flower Market in the North End. In a few weeks, you can add the Beanstalk (formerly Jewell & the Beanstalk) to the list when it re-opens at the corner of Chestnut and Manchester streets. Where Manchester’s coffee prowess really shows is at Fisher Cats games where CQ pour-over coffee is now sold, something that if not unique is at least very unusual in professional stadiums.
If you’re as (pleasantly) surprised as we were to see Manchester so high on a list of coffee-loving cities, then take another look around: there’s more to coffee in the Queen City than Dunkin’ Donuts. Today, there’s plenty of high-quality, locally roasted coffee being served and sold at cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and markets all around town.