The 10 Best Coffee Shops & Cafés in Belfast

Root and Branch Belfast | Courtesy of Root and Branch
Root and Branch Belfast | Courtesy of Root and Branch
Photo of Niall McGrade
7 September 2017

Belfast has a surprisingly robust coffee culture, with more than its fair share of coffee shops. Not all cafés are created equal, though, so how do you separate the truly great from the just okay? Avoid the chain stores, first of all, and stop into any of Belfast’s independent coffee shops. If you want more information, here’s our list of the 10 best choices!

Established Coffee

Cafe, Coffee Shop, American, British, Vegetarian, Coffee, Tea , $$$
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© Mark Ashbridge
Established burst onto the Belfast coffee scene with a bang in 2013, offering stylish surroundings in a fantastic Cathedral Quarter location. Its floor-to-ceiling windows, polished concrete floor, and corner location are all attractive, but its main draw is probably its sheer commitment to good coffee. As well as coffee and food to enjoy on-site, Established sells plenty of coffee paraphernalia and artisanal products. From Belfast’s own Suki Tea and Man Made to Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers chocolate, Established likes to celebrate excellence in general, not just their own.

Town Square

Bar, Cafe, Contemporary, Coffee, Tea , Dessert, Fast Food, Vegetarian, European, Irish, $$$
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Town Square sits in the centre of Botanic Avenue, the hub of food and drink in Belfast’s University Quarter. The serving area is spacious and open, but there are also booths and chairs tucked in corners, offering some privacy to anyone who might want it. With coffee, food, and an attached bar area, it’s a versatile spot, and you could easily lose a day without leaving the building. Town Square took both first and second place at the Northern Irish Aeropress Championship, so if you don’t know what to order, we recommend their Aeropress brew.

Kaffe O

Cafe, Coffee Shop, Tea , Danish, European, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, Coffee, $$$
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Kaffe O Ormeau
Kaffe O Ormeau | Courtesy of Kaffe O
Kaffe O was born out of owner Orla Smyth’s love for Copenhagen, and a Danish aesthetic permeates both of her cafés. After spending time as a lawyer in Copenhagen and getting a taste for Danish coffee, Orla returned to Belfast and opened her Ormeau Road location, with the aim of bringing that same no-nonsense mindset to Northern Ireland. Following its success, a second location opened up on Botanic Avenue. Kaffe O imports their beans directly from Denmark, where they’re hand-roasted by Ricco Sørensen before making their way to Belfast and eventually ending up in your cup.

The Pocket

Coffee Shop, European, Coffee, Tea , Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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We’re not sure if The Pocket got its name for being pocket-sized, but this newer coffee shop definitely comes across as cosy rather than cramped. It’s just across from Queen’s University, and its outside seating areas are a great location to people-watch, especially during term time. Inside, the small space is used to its fullest, with benches, window seating, and an unobtrusive counter. This café is a bustling student spot and can get quite busy around lunchtime, but it’s popular for a reason.

French Village

Cafe, Restaurant, Tea , French, European, British, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, Coffee, $$$
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French Village’s Botanic Avenue storefront is almost always busy and with good reason. It opens early for breakfast and stays open all day through lunch and dinner. The three different menus are all a good size, as well as offering a good variety of dishes. With the dining room on the left and the to-go deli counter on the right, there are almost always two queues. Joining either will bring you to great food, so don’t worry about it too much.

Guilt Trip Coffee and Donuts

Cafe, Coffee Shop, Tea , Coffee, British, European, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
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Guilt Trip
Guilt Trip | Courtesy of Guilt Trip
Guilt Trip is brand new on the Belfast coffee scene, and the café has been making waves. Opened by Ulster rugby stars Callum Black and Darren Cave, they’re serving up excellent coffee and some of the best donuts in the city. Callum, in particular, is passionate about his coffee, and it shows. They’ve brought in some of Belfast’s top baristas with the aim of creating a destination rather than a pit stop, and they’ve succeeded.

Co Couture

Store, Shop
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Down a small set of stairs by City Hall, this basement boutique specialises in chocolate in all of its guises. Their truffles and chocolate bars are made in small batches to ensure quality. Co Couture isn’t just a chocolate shop, though. It’s made this list because it serves up the best hot chocolate in the city, no doubt. It’s easy to miss, tucked down those stairs, but it’d be a shame not to stop in. With a large variety of different chocolates to choose from and a selection of baked goods, there’s something to cater to every taste, as long as that taste is cocoa.


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Bookfinders Belfast
Bookfinders Belfast | Courtesy of Bookfinders
Bookfinders has been a fixture on Belfast’s university landscape for over 30 years now, and it is still going strong. Between selling books, serving café fare, and hosting various events, it attracts a loyal cadre of customers. The bookstore is at the front of the building, with the café at the back, down a small set of stairs. The multi-levelled layout not only creates a good separation of space but also tucks the café away, keeping the noise of the street away from its patrons.

The Thinking Cup

Cafe, Coffee Shop, Tea , Coffee, British, European, $$$
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This secondhand bookshop/café does a lot right. They’re committed to providing job prospects to ex-offenders; they have a reading room for study or work, and, most importantly, they serve good coffee. The Thinking Cup is an apt name, as the space is perfect for some quiet reflection. You can easily book the reading room for any sort of function, so if you’re really committed to having a space in which to work, The Thinking Cup might have a solution for you.

Root and Branch

Coffee Shop, Cafe, Coffee, $$$
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Root and Branch roasts all of their own beans in their roastery, before serving them up in their Brew Bar. The amount of time that the beans spend sitting is minimised so that you can get the freshest coffee possible, direct from the roasting drum. No corners are cut at any stage, whether you’re having the coffee, the food, or the teas. Either way, stopping in for a single cup of coffee or just to pick up some beans for your own kitchen, Root and Branch will look after you.