Established Coffee

Detail from the sign outside Established Coffee in Belfast, showing the letters ESTD.You can’t really talk about speciality coffee in Belfast without talking about Established Coffee, which opened in December 2013. Located at the northern edge of Belfast’s historic Cathedral Quarter, Established occupies a surprisingly modern building on the corner of Hill and Talbot Streets. It’s a large, bright, uncluttered space that, during my visit, was constantly busy.

Established serves coffee from Dublin’s 3FE and various guests on both espresso and filter. There’s usual a choice of three coffees, plus a decaf. One of these is always unique to Established, another is from a rotating cast of guests, while the third is only available as a batch-brew filter. Unusually, the other two are available as both filter and espresso.

As well as coffee, Established has an extensive food offering, all cooked in the kitchen behind the counter. This is based around an all-day breakfast menu of poached eggs on toast, with various sides, supplemented by a selection of seasonal plates. If that doesn’t appeal, there’s always the option of toast or granola, plus a soup of the day. Everything’s available until the kitchen closes at three o’clock. If that isn’t enough, there’s always an interesting selection of cake to be had.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On the edge of Belfast's historic Cathedral Quarter is this surprisingly modern building.
  • It doesn't immediately shout 'coffee shop' at you. Even the signage is discreet.
  • However, it's there if you look for it. Such as, for example, the logo on the window...
  • ... or the signs projecting from the walls.
  • Even the main sign is small, tucked away beside the door. It's Established, by the way.
  • Stepping inside, and it's clear that a lack of signs is not a problem. It's packed!
  • The counter is at one end, with plenty of space between it and the seating...
  • ... the seating which is at the other end. There's also another door down there.
  • That shot of an empty counter was a rare thing, by the way. Even this queue is short!
  • Despite having windows down two sides, there are plenty of lightbulbs in Established.
  • These hang above the tables lining the wall...
  • ... while this is me trying to get arty.
  • This is one of the lights hanging above the counter.
  • If you enter via the door towards the back, there's a set of retail shelves to your left.
  • These shelves have the usual coffee-making and coffee-related kit...
  • ... while these have more kit and, of course, bags and bags of coffee.
  • Established's coffee comes from various roasters, but predominantly Dublin's 3FE.
  • However, it's not all coffee. There is some tea too.
  • Lovely cups!
  • Established has a front door & this one, at the back, leading you straight to the counter.
  • Something interesting's going on!
  • The menu is on the wall behind and to the left of the counter.
  • Established isn't just about the coffee: there's food too. Lots of it.
  • As well as the cooked offerings from the kitchen at the back, Established has...
  • ... a range of tempting cakes, on display at the start of the counter.
  • The extensive coffee offering is at the top of the menu.
  • Filter coffee, mostly pour-over, is at the far end of the counter.
  • The ubiquitous EK-43 does the grinding for the pour-overs...
  • ... while the coffee is all pre-weighed in containers on shelves at the back.
  • Although I was tempted by a pour-over, I was won over by the espresso machine...
  • ... and its interesting automated tamper.
  • The result: a lovely flat white...
  • ... with some awesome latte art.
  • It's a good sign when the latte art lasts all way to the bottom of the cup.
  • I was also there for breakfast: poached eggs and mushrooms on toast. Delicious!
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Approaching Established Coffee from Belfast city centre to the south takes you through a series of winding, pedestrianised alleys, all lined with interesting old buildings, ideal territory for a coffee shop. However, just as you reach Established, you’re suddenly surrounded by a surprisingly modern, functional set of brick buildings, including the one housing Established. However, don’t let that put you off.

Long and thin, Established sits on a corner, with the narrow side facing Talbot Street, while the long side runs down Hill Street. Although the address is Hill Street, I think of the narrow side, with double doors on the left, as the front. However, there is also a door towards the back on the left-hand (Hill Street) side.

The seating’s all at the front, with the counter at the back. There are windows on both the Talbot Street and Hill Street sides, interlaced with wide, brick pillars, each with its own window-bar, two at the front and two down the left-hand side. These are wider, seating four and three people respectively, whereas the ones at the front can only manage two each.

The space at the front is dominated by a single, 14-person communal table, clearly designed with the laptop-using remote worker/student in mind, since there are power sockets along the sides of the table. The rest of the seating is provided by a bench along the right-hand wall. There’s a two-person table, then three four-person tables and one final two-person table right at the back. Although the communal table is large, there’s plenty of space around it, allowing you to easily make your way from the door to the counter along the left-hand side. Alternatively, if you use the door at the back, you’ll end up by the counter, which is ahead to your left, while the seating is to your right.

At the back of Established, the right-hand corner is cut off at 30 degrees, with the counter running parallel to the wall, leaving it at an angle to the main room. The angled nature of the counter means that there’s a large, open space between the counter and seating where people can queue or waiting for their (takeaway) coffee. Established could have crammed a lot more in, but the result is wonderfully uncluttered, giving Established a great sense of space, even when it’s packed.

Whether you use the front or the side door, you arrive at the left-hand end of the counter, which starts with cake/till, before you reach a large, gleaming (Silver) Black Eagle espresso machine and its grinders. Next comes the EK-43 grinder for filter coffee, with the pour-over station at the end.

I had a flat white, made with a single-origin coffee from Los Vientos in El Salvador, roasted by 3FE, but exclusive to Established (the alternative was a Rwandan from London’s Workshop). It was a great first coffee of the day, the coffee and milk complimenting each other, with a certain underlying sweetness to the coffee which went well with the milk.

In an ideal world, I’d have stayed on and tried the Los Vientos as a filter coffee. Established usually uses the Aeropress, although occasionally, depending on the coffee, the V60 is offered, while if you are sharing, the Chemex comes into play. Pleasingly, filter coffee is served in a carafe with a cup on the side.

However, I was short of time, so had to settle for the one coffee with my breakfast, where I went (unsurprisingly) for poached eggs on sour dough toast, adding mushrooms and spinach. The eggs were beautifully poached, while the toast was wonderfully crunchy.

54 HILL STREET • BELFAST • BT1 2LB
http://established.coffee +44 (0) 28 9031 9416
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster 3FE + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Window-bars, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 3rd March 2017

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