We take pride in seeing our coffee served in a variety of destinations not just in London, but all over the UK and indeed the world. One such place is Pot Kettle Black, or PKB as it's more commonly known.
Since they opened in 2014, the team have been serving Workshop Coffee in the beautiful Victorian surrounds of their coffee shop in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.
Jon Wilkin, one of the Founders of PKB, sat down with us to offer an insight into the past three years and hint at what might be on the horizon in the next three.
So, how did it all begin?
Our story began through the misfortune of injury. Myself and (PKB Co-Founder) Mark are professional rugby players. Mark returned from a stint playing rugby in Sydney and was overwhelmed by the quality and choice of independent speciality coffee operations over there. He was so passionate about the lack of quality in this area in the North-West that we began to learn, listen and love the beauty of great coffee.
At this point Mark suffered a career-threatening injury to his knee and that was probably the catalyst PKB's inception. A year of sampling the market, planning and understanding the craft of coffee came next and, as fortune or misfortune would have it, I then became badly injured.
We acquired a site and I project managed the build whilst Mark was back on the pitch. That year, in October 2014, we won a huge rugby competition and PKB Barton Arcade opened its doors.
We held our breath and waited for the customers. I have never been more nervous.
What came before coffee for you?
Aside from our sporting careers, myself and Mark bonded over great design, food, wine and a social life that was populated by events attached to these things. We are both very social guys and central to everything we did prior to PKB was about enjoying ourselves and refining our tastes; that is essentially what we still do now but with what is probably a more commercial approach.
I had some experience of opening my own business and had made lots of mistakes, too, which really helped us in the early stages I think. We both have very similar interests and enjoy fine dining as much as a few drinks. We just love great things and the many forms those great things can take.
What sets PKB apart?
Our location and the quality of what we put out. We're set in a beautiful Victorian Arcade in Central Manchester. After the Arndale bomb in the city, most glass buildings in the area were damaged beyond repair but the arcade survived and, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Manchester -- ornate iron balconies, huge glass domes and a level of design that its becoming increasingly rare to find.
We have the most prominent site within the arcade and sit alongside an amazing gents Barbers, Spanish Deli and clothes shop. There’s a great little vibe in the arcade and its blossomed since we took a punt on what had previously been a relatively unsuccessful space.
The arcade is now a destination for PKB customers and tourists alike. I honestly believe the quality of our coffee and brunch is the highest in Manchester. There are some excellent places to eat and drink in the city, but we've recently been voted the best Coffee Shop/Tea Room in the 2016 Food and Drink awards. That’s all down to the amazing coffee and food we serve and the quality of the products we use.
Quite simply good things in one end and minimal processes between mean we can bring great products to the table.
What led you to Workshop Coffee?
We looked around for 18 months and didn’t taste an espresso with so much depth of flavour and that;s true of every iteration we've had since. We love the coffee and it’s become an amazing part of our business. As we’ve grown, we have continually revisited how to get the best out of the beans you guys deliver through e-mails, phone calls and training sessions.
It’s a continual process.
We're passionate about delivering speciality coffee to people in unusual locations. We're not based in an offbeat location or in an area surrounded by similar industries. We are slap-bang in the middle of commercial chain land. We have 1 litre caramel macchiatos to our left and hot, floppy sandwiches to our right. We want to grow and present an alternative to the occasionally soulless British high street.
Barton Arcade has taught us that location is crucial. We have just about agreed to launch our second site and we couldn’t be more excited about where it is. I can’t give too much away at this stage, but it's Manchester again and we just can’t wait to give the people in that area the PKB experience.
Our biggest challenge remains getting Marks music off the playlist.
14 Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester. M3 2BW
Weekdays: 8:00am – 7:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm