Published On: Mon, Jul 18th, 2016

Calling the Pot Kettle Black’s a passion for Mark and Jon

pot kettle black guysIT was a visit to Sydney, Australia, that convinced Rugby Super League player Mark Flanagan that the UK was missing out on the speciality and artisan coffee market.

He teamed-up with friend Jon Wilkin (on the right), also a North West Rugby star, and after touring the country on a series of research trips they opened Pot Kettle Black in Barton Arcade, Manchester, which has become a magnet for the business community, coffee enthusiasts and shoppers alike.

We asked the guys about their passion for speciality coffee and the success behind their business . . .

Which were the outlets in Sydney that most inspired you?

Balmain in Sydney was a cool and trendy suburb, endless choice of amazing coffee and fantastic food. So many places there I couldn’t name one!

In what ways were they different from those operating in the UK at that time?

Different in their approach to coffee and the lifestyle surrounding it. Attention to detail, care and love go into producing great quality food and coffee. In Balmain numerous coffee shops focused on the quality of their ingredients. Over here the majority of people seemed to drink bad coffee in cheaply fitted shops and munched on pre packaged soggy sandwiches. It seemed crazy Manchester didn’t have more fabulous independent coffee operations.

Why did you choose Manchester for your first venue?

For the reasons stated above. Manchester needed more independent offerings away from the Northern Quarter. Also speciality coffee, which is what we are, could sometimes be cold and a little private club. We felt we could break down some of those barriers quickly.

Another major reason is because we believe that Manchester is the Northern powerhouse and innovation and creativity is blossoming in the city at the moment. We wanted in on that.

Why is it called Pot Kettle Black?

Well we thought of many names and we liked Pot kettle Black because clearly it’s a traditional saying used in this country and also it evoked imagery relating to hot beverages being brewed.

How did you raise the finance to open Pot Kettle Black?

Jon and I emptied our piggy banks! We privately financed it, no backers and it’s been our vision and our concept from day one.

Is this purely a commercial operation or a passion?

I don’t believe one exists without the other in the hospitality industry. Passion is pre requisite in this industry. Coffee is a beautiful product, its story is fascinating and it has relevance to our historical development. People started drinking coffee instead of booze in the morning back in the day and it fuelled a surge in productivity and industry. How cool is that. We believed passionately about creating an interesting space for people to eat and drink, but ultimately become an extension of people’s daily routines. We strive to serve people brilliant coffee in a way that isn’t snobby at all!

What makes a speciality coffee special?

It’s graded that way. The coffee we use is graded as speciality due to its quality. Picking, sourcing, and roasting sets our coffee apart from commodity coffee people drink in the high street chains. Taste our coffee and you will understand immediately.

Which coffees are your faves?

Our house espresso “Cult of Done” from Workshop in London, it’s been our house espresso since we opened. It’s been on the journey with us with 20 odd revisions to its origin. Each revision has brought exciting new flavour to our drinks.

Will there be other branches?

We are always looking. We’ve launched an amazing new brunch menu and it’s our focus to match great healthy modern brunch dishes with our beautiful coffee. Once this gets going we will have a proper look for site two!

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