Where to find the best coffee in Belfast
Updated on January 5th, 2020
As you arrive in Belfast, it becomes immediately apparent how likely it is you will find great coffee here. There are masses of university students, cool hipster bars and cafes and a large street art scene. How could there not be amazing specialty coffee? I love wandering around a new city, taking in the cafe scene. I can learn so much about a culture by sitting in a coffee shop, people watching. In this guide, I will show you where to find the best coffee in Belfast.
The capital city of Northern Ireland is split into four quarters, each with their own unique identity. The Cathedral Quarter, to the north-east of the downtown area, is the hub of arts and cultural activities in Belfast’s city. As with many hipster areas around the world, the Cathedral Quarter started off as a warehouse region, bringing in local artists.
From here warehouse buildings have been converted into unique storefronts and cafes that offer a beautiful view into the creative side of the local residents.
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My trip to Belfast
Prior to my Northern Ireland trip, I embarrassingly knew very little about this country. I spent 4 weeks driving around Ireland and Northern Ireland in a tiny manual car. The decision to come to here was based purely on having 10 weeks off work and not knowing where to go. My co-worker suggested Ireland and that was it, I booked a flight and did very little research to leave everything as a fun surprise.
I loved Belfast and would definitely like to return one day. I spent my mornings doing yoga, days exploring the city and drinking delicious coffee and the evenings listening to live music. The live music scene in Belfast is great and combines traditional Irish music with the fun sing-a-long classics.
I stayed at The Global Village Hostel which was really great, with plenty of activities going on, friendly staff and common areas that make it easy to meet other travellers. Read my full review of the hostel and why I think it’s Belfast’s best city hostel.
My picks for the best cafes in Belfast
Established Coffee Belfast
In the Cathedral Quarter, you will find Established Coffee. I found this cafe initially through my trusty Bean Hunter app and loved it so much I returned here three times during my trip. If you are yet to discover the joys of Bean Hunter, you need to download this app now. The app works of public reviews and finds you the best cafes wherever in the world you are.
The staff at Established are all extremely knowledgeable about the types of coffee and beans they offer. On my first visit, a lady explained to me the difference in their beans. From the flavour, strength to what would best suit an Americano vs a filter coffee. Intrigued and wanting to learn more, the following day I went in with a bunch of questions. A different staff member was more than happy to talk to me and answer all my questions.
While not offering all the regular specialty coffee methods, Established coffee makes a mean espresso or filter based drink. The espresso-based drinks are creamy while the filter style is smooth and full of flavour.
Located in a large open plan building there is plenty of seating and good wifi. There is a food menu serving breakfast and lunch with delicious treats located in a counter display. It’s not the ideal place for working though as there are limited powerpoints and it gets quite loud inside.
Opening Hours – Monday to Friday: 7am – 6pm / Saturday: 8am – 6pm / Sunday: 9am – 6pm
Make sure you also check out their website if you are travelling through Northern Ireland. Not only is there information on their own cafe. They have put together a coffee guide to Belfast and Northern Ireland with a handy Google map reference.
Next on your list of places to try is Town Square, located in the Queens Quarter of the city. The Queens Quarter is the southernmost quarter of the city and named after the university. Based on its proximity around the large university you’ll find many arts and cultural events happening here. Due to a large number of students residing in the area, you will find lot of lively bars, restaurants and cafes in this neighbourhood.
“Towns used to have town squares.
A space where people gathered.
A place where ideas were shared, where art was born, where businesses were started and philosophies debated.
Possibility lived here.
It was the heart of the city.
We are the town square that Belfast didn’t have.”
Town Square specialises in their Aeropress coffee, having won the National Championship in 2017. I love my Aeropress and travel with it everywhere. The Aeropress makes consistently good coffee and is compact enough to travel with even as a backpacker.
Town Square is located on a street brimming with cafes, so the competition is fiece here. Yet, it’s well worth heading in, if not just for the coffee but for the delicious smashed avo. It also doubles as a bar during the evenings and on Tuesday they offer cupping sessions for those wishing to learn more about coffee.
They source their beans locally and really nail all of the filter coffee varieties.
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 7:30 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 8 am to 11 pm, Sunday 8 am to 10 pm.
Other Belfast cafes to try
As I only had a few days in the city, I didn’t get to as many coffee shops as I would have liked. However, these are a few other top picks I wish I had made it to.
Also located in the Queens Quarter, this cafe serves breakfast, brunch and lunch using local produce and uses 3FE coffee from Dublin. Check out The Pocket’s Instagram to learn more.
The National Grande Café
The National has a lot going on. Firstly, you’ll notice the grande building it is located in. High ceilinged and brick interior with warm lighting and a long bar. The venue serves coffee but also hosts a multitude of events.
Where do you think the best coffee in Belfast is? Do you have any others to add to the list?