Way Coffee & Book Shop

Details from the wall on the inside of the porch of the Way Coffee & Book Shop in Ghent"WAY to go, take-away speciality coffee & vegan pastries. Books"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.

  • You'll find this modest store front on Voldersstraat, in the historic heart of Ghent...
  • ... opposite the imposing façade of the Aula Academica, part of Ghent University.
  • Back to the other side of the road, and the 'Way' is well sign-posted.
  • The A-board also gives you plenty of clues as to what you will find inside.
  • However, before entering, check out the porch, where you'll find some seating, with...
  • ... two benches on the right, and another two on the left. You can also sit at the front.
  • There are more clues on the wall on the left.
  • At the back of the porch, a wall of windows has a central door (very hard to photograph!).
  • The view from just inside the door. Way is long and thin, with the counter on the left...
  • ... and retail shelves all the way along the right-hand wall.
  • The view from the back of Way.
  • The counter is where you order and collect your coffee...
  • ... while on the other side, you have the retail shelves with espresso at the back.
  • The 'espresso' refers to the beans on sale, since there's also pour-over equipment here.
  • Towards the front, you'll find a wide selection of beans roasted for filter, plus more kit.
  • There's also a price-list and details of the current selection on the wall at the front.
  • Some of the wide range of coffee-making equipment that's also on sale. Moving on...
  • ... this set of shelves towards the back is the realm of espresso, with tampers, jugs, etc...
  • ... while against the back wall are the home espresso machines.
  • It's not just beans and kit though: Way also sells a range of non-dairy milks.
  • While we're at the back, if you look to the left, you'll see these stairs high above you.
  • The stairs start to the right of the espresso machines...
  • ... and run up along the back wall, before turning left at the top...
  • ... with the promise of books and magazines.
  • This is the short flight we saw from downstairs, which leads to the upper floor.
  • The view through the door, which is at the top of the stairs, on your left.
  • A panoramic view of the first of two upstairs rooms, while over on the far wall...
  • ... is as good a description as any of the Way bookshop.
  • The first of the two rooms is dominated by this round table in the middle of the room...
  • ... while the second room is accessed through a gap in the wall on the left.
  • This is a lot narrower, running all the way to the windows at the front of Way.
  • There's a limited amount of seating in the bookshop, including this sofa...
  • ... and this black armchair.
  • Meanwhile, in the back room, there's another armchair just by the door.
  • A view of the back room from the gap in the party wall...
  • ... where you'll find this display straddling the two rooms.
  • However, my eye was drawn to another display, this one in the back room.
  • Specifically, I found myself looking at the books on the table.
  • Can you see it now?
  • Self-publicity over, it's time to go back downstairs.
  • You get quite a good view from up here, all lit by the skylights at the back of Way.
  • The espresso accessories, as seen from the top of the stairs...
  • ... while here's a view looking down on the home espresso machines.
  • Okay. Let's get down to business. The counter runs along the left-hand wall...
  • ... although you order here, at the front (which is also where you pay for your books).
  • You'll find the cakes and pastries here, all baked in-house and all vegan.
  • The drinks menu, meanwhile, is on the back wall.
  • Move along down the counter, we come to the twin espresso grinders.
  • The espresso choices are represented by bags of coffee on top of the grinders.
  • The Brazilian is ever-present, but the other option changes regularly.
  • Next come two Modbar group heads and a steam wand...
  • ... which were put to use on my first visit to pull a shot of the Ethiopian...
  • ... which was looking good as it went into the cup.
  • My espresso in the cup.
  • If you don't fancy espresso, there's always pour-over, again through the Modbar...
  • ... which you'll find at the back of the counter, the various choices lined up in front.
  • Although I was tempted, on my return, I went back to espresso, this time...
  • ... trying the Ethiopian in (oat) milk...
  • ... with this flat white in my KeepCup.
  • I paired this with a cinnamon bun, which was served warm. Before I left, I gave the staff...
  • ... a bag of the Kathunguri which I’d picked up at Sango in Amsterdam the week before.
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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.

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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2 thoughts on “Way Coffee & Book Shop

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