54 Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB http://established.coffeefacebook.com/ establishedcoffee €
Recently, I’ve found myself defending the wait for a cup of coffee in our modern “fourth wave” coffee shops. If I’m paying upwards of ¤3 (or £2.90), I am very happy for a barista to take their time over my brew, to make sure they’re getting the maximum flavour from the beans or to check they’ve got the temperature of the hot milk or water right. I believe in slow food and slow living, so it makes sense to me that slow coffee should be appreciated, too.
Obviously, when you’re already late for work in the morning and you just need a caffeine hit, stat, a five-minute artisanally brewed coffee is enough to make you lose your mind. But when you have the time, why not indulge in the art of a carefully poured hot drink?
It’s this I’m thinking of as I take in the décor of Belfast’s Established Coffee, while waiting on my coffee. Opened in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter of in 2014 by coffee enthusiast Mark Ashbridge, its polished concrete floor reminds me of the Fumbally in Dublin 8, while its minimalist furnishings evoke the Kinfolk style of their brethren in beans, Dublin’s 3FE. Established stock coffee beans from 3FE alongside London roasters The Workshop, with special guest bags popping up from the likes of Heart Coffee in Portland, Oregon.
In Established, I have a choice of two daily coffee beans or a decaf made however I like, or the Barista Surprise, wherein one of the Established crew picks a bean they’re excited about and makes a filter cup of it. Sure, I wait longer for the filtered Barista Suprise but think about what is going into this cup of coffee. The barista chooses which bean; they grind and weigh out the beans; and then filter at their Aeropress station, a process that takes at least two minutes alone.
Good things come to those who wait. My coffee (£2.90) is served, delectably cloudy, in a little glass jug. The barista spills the beans on the coffee as he delivers it to my table; it is a Rwandan Workshop specialty, and the barista felt its fruity flavour shone through in a filter cup. I had to agree as I sipped it, black and sugarless.
Coffee is king here but there’s no messing around in the kitchen either. I love how the sweetness of the roasted sweet potato in my vegetarian sandwich (£4.80) is balanced by the tang of caramelised redonion marmalade. Fresh greens are stuffed between the slices of excellent sourdough bread, and the sandwich is accompanied by a well-balanced crunchy red cabbage and carrot slaw. Also on offer are gloriously sticky cinnamon and pecan buns (£2.20), baked in-house. I unwrap one, slowly devouring each layer as I make my way to its sticky centre.
The café’s twitter and instagram feeds (@established and @establishedcoffee) tempt with their kitchen’s creative, changeable and seasonal mid-week specials, such as fried gnocchi with basil lemon pesto, charred greens, parmesan and poached eggs (£5.50). Breakfast looks insane too, with the regular appearance of waffles the cause of recurring mid-morning meal envy online. Next time you’re in Belfast, make sure Established is on your itinerary.