On my way home after my trip to Amsterdam in March, I spent a quiet week visiting friends in Ghent. It was very low key, but I did wander around the city centre a few times and, naturally, I checked out the local coffee scene with the help of European Coffee Trip. While I didn’t have time to explore as much as I would have liked, I found myself drawn to Way on Voldersstraat, right in the heart of the old city.
Way is a roaster with three very different coffee shops in the city. The one on Voldersstraat is an interesting place, serving takeaway coffee (but with outside seating) while also acting as a retail shop, selling both beans and home coffee equipment. And to cap it all, there’s a bookshop upstairs, with an eclectic collection, centred around coffee and sustainable living.
When it comes to the coffee, there are two single-origins on espresso, with all the shots pulled on a Modbar system. There are also multiple single-origins on pour-over, Way using the Modbar automated system with the V60. Finally, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries, all baked in-house with the added twist that Way is entirely plant-based/vegan.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Way Coffee & Book Shop presents a modest façade on Voldersstraat, opposite Ghent University’s Aula Academica with its much less modest classical façade, complete with Corinthian columns. In contrast, Way has two plain, white square pillars in its three-bay porch, which provides considerable shelter for the outdoor seating. This consists of a pair of benches on each side, one of each pair against the side wall, with the other at the back. There are also two benches at the front between the pillars and the side walls.
This leaves the space between the pillars open, which leads to the door at the back of the porch. The front of Way is all glass, effectively forming a wall of glass at the back of the porch, with the door in the middle. Inside, Way stretches a long way back, the counter running almost the full length of the left-hand wall, matched by retail shelves on the right.
You order at the front of the counter, where you’ll find the pastries and cakes in a glass display case, with the menu on the wall behind. Next are the two espresso grinders, the choice of beans displayed by bags on coffee on top of each grinder, followed by a pair of Modbar group heads. Finally, at the back of the counter, are two Modbar pour-over units, the wide selection of single-origins again represented by bags of coffee, this time lined up along the front of the counter.
Interestingly, this line-up (espresso followed by filter) is flipped on the retail shelves. Here the filter coffee comes first, followed by the espresso selection, along with a wide range of pour-over equipment, including drippers, filter papers and carafes. Next are espresso accessories (tampers, jugs, etc) with a row of home espresso machines, including the Sage Barista Express (which I have at home), along the back wall.
Interestingly, there’s no seating inside, Way really meaning it when it says “coffee to go”, although you are welcome to sit out on the porch. However, this does mean that you need to bring your own cup, since Way only uses disposable cups (except for espresso, when you can have a proper cup).
That said, there is more to Way. At the back, to the right of the home espresso machines, a flight of stairs runs up across the back wall, turning by 90° at the top to continue a short way along the left-hand wall to a door at the back of the upper floor of Way. Running all the way to the front of the building, Way has turned this into a bookshop with an eclectic selection covering coffee and other food-related books that I would put under the broad classification of sustainable living.
You’re welcome to browse up here, although you pay downstairs at the front of the counter, where you order your coffee. There’s also limited seating (three chairs and a sofa) in the bookshop and, while you’re not encouraged to, you are free to sit upstairs with your coffee.
Talking of coffee, Way always has a single-origin from Brazil on espresso, along with a second option, which was an anaerobically-processed Ethiopian coffee during my visit. I had this an espresso, a lovely, well-balanced coffee with a touch of acidity and a rich complexity. I returned the following day when I tried it as a flat white in my KeepCup, where it went just as well in milk. I paired this with a (vegan) cinnamon bun, which was served warm. This had light, crispy pastry and a subtle cinnamon flavour while not being too sweet.
Before I left on my second visit, I kept the coffee-go-round going by dropping off a bag of the Kathunguri which I’d picked up at Sango in Amsterdam the previous week. I also met Ward, who is a co-owner of Way and head coffee roaster, who invited me over to the roastery on Dok Noord, although that’s another story.
|VOLDERSSTRAAT 58 • 9000 GHENT • BELGIUM|
|www.way.gent||+32 494 07 33 22|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Way (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Benches (outside); Chairs (upstairs)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Cake (vegan)|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Payment||Card Only|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with login)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||16, 17th March 2023|
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