The topic of the best coffee in Belfast is one that stirs (terrible pun, I know…) up a fine bit of debate online.
There’s some stiff competition between cafes in Belfast that have been operating for decades and new-comers that are fresh on the scene.
Below, you’ll find what we think is the best coffee in Belfast, with a mix of well know spots to some often missed coffee shops in Belfast.
Our favourite places for coffee in Belfast
These are places that one of the team has been to several times and that has raved about over and over again.
1. Established Coffee
Opened in 2013, Established Coffee in the Cathedral Quarter has been dominating the Belfast coffee scene for over 7 years. Their signature 3FE blend packs a punch and you can choose from 2 daily coffee beans.
There is also the option of ordering the Barista Surprise. Offering takeaway and sit-in options, Established Coffee also offers delicious foods including sweet apple pie, raspberry frangipane with orange pastry, salted caramel pie, and much more.
Make sure to try the Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers chocolate. If you wish to improve your coffee brewing skills at home, the café hosts a weekly workshop on Saturdays.
2. General Merchants
General Merchants knocks up some of the best breakfast in Belfast. It also does a pretty mean coffee, too! The cafe is tastefully decorated with exposed brick walls and wood interiors.
Baristas are friendly and always happy to recommend different coffee options on the menu. There is also a nice outdoor terrace to enjoy your coffee when it’s sunny outside.
You can also purchase different types of coffee beans and cups to take home with you. If you wish to grab something to eat, order the poached eggs and avocado toast.
3. Espresso Bar at The Bullitt
The Espresso Bar at the fabulous Bullitt Hotel is arguably one of the more unique places for coffee in Belfast.
Named after the Steve McQueen movie, the hotel is located just a short walk from the Victoria Square Shopping Centre and Belfast Central Station.
Inside the hotel, you will find a charming espresso bar that serves coffee of the highest quality. This is a nice little spot for a coffee and a read, if you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit.
4. Harlem Coffee
Located right next to the world-famous Ulster Hall music venue on Bedford Street in Belfast, Harlem Coffee is a lovely wine bar, bistro, and coffee shop.
Here, you’ll find a mix of tourists and locals alike gathering to enjoy coffee, sweet treats, and wine. Order the Calypso coffee or try the signature Harlem Classico.
Harlem Coffee also serves tasty pastries and milkshakes. This is widely regarded as one of the best cafes in Belfast for good reason.
5. Sinnamon Belfast
The family-run Sinnamon Coffee has two locations: one up in Castlereagh Hills Golf Course and another on Stranmillis Road, just down the road from the Botanic Gardens
Whether you are in the mood for a skinny soy decaf latte or a creamy cappuccino, everything you order here at Sinnamon is delicious.
If you fancy enjoying a coffee with a view, their spot up at Castlereagh Hills has a nice outdoor seating area that overlooks the golf course.
6. Kaffe O
Welcome to Kaffe O, a Nordic-inspired coffee shop with 4 locations in the city of Belfast. The owner, Orla Smyth, spent a few years working as a lawyer in Copenhagen and fell in love with Danish coffee.
Once she returned to Belfast, Orla decided to open up a place where coffee beans are imported straight from Copenhagen’s Ricco Kaffe where master roaster Ricco Sørensen is in charge of hand-roasting the beans.
Try the Ecuador 70% hot chocolate blend or go for the flat white. If you’re on the hunt for some of the best coffee in Belfast, get yourself to Kaffe O sharpish.
The best coffee shops in Belfast
Not that we have our favourite cafes in Belfast City Centre out of the way, it’s time to see what else the city has to offer.
Below, you’ll find some more excellent coffee shops in Belfast, from the excellent Curated Kitchen & Coffee to the mighty Maggie Mays and more.
1. Curated Kitchen & Coffee
Named best café in County Antrim in 2019, this café and specialty coffee shop serves amazing coffee and offers a seasonal menu curated from popular cookbooks, newspapers, and magazines.
We should also mention that Curated Kitchen & Coffee offers a weekly guest coffee roast for coffee fans looking to experience new flavours.
2. Maggie Mays Belfast Café
Maggie Mays is arguably one of the most iconic cafes in Belfast City Centre. A family-run chain of cafes, Maggie Mays has three different cafes throughout the city.
Expect to find a plethora of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate options on the menu. However, Maggie Mays Belfast Café does more than a fine brew.
This Belfast institution is most famous for their magic custom made milkshakes including Banoffee Blitz and Nutty for Chocolate. If you’re feeling peckish, order the 8oz rump steak or try the signature beef stew.
3. Espresso Elements
Located on Lisburn Road, Espresso Elements is a small independent coffee shop with an extensive coffee list that includes everything from latte to cappuccino.
From Brazilian to Colombian roast, this coffee joint usually has a range of mixed blends on offer. You can also purchase a bag of brewed coffee to take back home.
If you wish to learn more about coffee brewing, Espresso Elements is one of several coffee shops in Belfast that provides Barista training (usually on the weekends).
4. The Coffee House Belfast
The Coffee House Belfast is a family-run restaurant that serves quality food in a welcoming atmosphere. Their coffee menu is amazing with plenty of options to choose from.
Unlike some of the other places on this list where a cup of coffee can be on the expensive side, this family-run restaurant offers reasonably priced and delicious espresso drinks, frappes, and sweet treats.
Note from the editor: We stopped here for breakfast a few weeks back and both the food and service we both incredible.
5. 5A Coffee
I’ve a friend from just outside of the city that says this place knocks up some of best coffee in Belfast along with some of the finest brunch!
And, while 5A Coffee is small (and it can be tricky to get parking nearby, at times), it punches well above it’s weight.
The food is also delicious and includes everything from wraps to salads. Order the brioche roll with bits of bacon, fried egg, and Sriracha mayo!
Related read: Check out our guide to the best vegan restaurants in Belfast in 2021 (there’s plenty to choose from).
6. The Pocket
Located just a stone’s throw from Queens University’s main campus, the Pocket is one of the more popular cafes in Belfast.
They only use 3Fe coffee sourced directly from the company in Dublin and the milk is always carefully prepped. Guests from TripAdvsior say how coffee at the Pocket is always fresh and hits the right notes.
Make sure to try their signature donuts which come in different flavours including salted caramel and raspberry glaze.
Some often-overlooked places for coffee in Belfast
The final section of our guide to the best coffee in Belfast takes a look at some of the more overlooked cafes in the city.
Below, you’ll find everything from the brilliant Vietnamese Coffee Co. and Output Espresso to a very hidden gem.
1. Vietnamese Coffee Co.
Belfast has many hidden gems and Vietnamese Coffee Co. is up there with the best of them. Located close to the Victoria Street train station, this small coffee joint is well-known for its unique floral Vietnamese coffee blend.
The coffee is brewed in the distinctive Vietnamese “phin” filter and tastes amazing. On the food menu, you will find plenty of vegetarian options such as Vietnamese noodle salad and smoked tofu.
Also, if you’re looking for the best coffee shops in Belfast where you can grab freshly ground coffee, you can buy online or in-store from these lads.
2. Output Espresso
Output Espresso is a popular cafe located on Lisburn Road that knocks up some of the best coffee in Belfast and it’s a contender for the best breakfast, too!
Coffee at Output Espresso is combined with a delicious brunch menu that includes options such as Biscoff pancakes and brioche toast with bacon, sausage, egg, mushroom, and homemade beans.
The pig pancakes (black pudding, crispy egg, bacon and maple) and the brisket grilled cheese (braised brisket, caramelized onions, smoked cheddar and brie on sourdough) are incredible!
Related read: Check out our guide to the best bottomless brunch in Belfast in 2021 (there’s now only 3 running).
3. Brew & Bake Café
And last but by no means least in our guide to the best coffee in Belfast is one of the newer additions to the coffee scene in Belfast – Brew & Bake Café.
This place is tastefully decorated and it’s well-known for its strong coffee and delicious foods.
Guests like the flat white coffee and add that the food menu has a brunch emphasis with options such as spicy beans on toast and eggs with Hannon’s bacon, grilled tomatoes, and flat chilli mushrooms.
The best coffee shops in Belfast: Where have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant cafes in Belfast City Centre and beyond from the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about the best coffee in Belfast
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best coffee shops in Belfast for kicking back with a book to what’s the best coffee in Belfast City.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Where can you get the best coffee in Belfast?
In my opinion, the best coffee shops in Belfast are Sinnamon Belfast, Harlem Coffee, General Merchants and Established Coffee.
What are the best cafes in Belfast City Centre?
It’s hard to go wrong with any of the places mentioned above, but both Kaffe O and General Merchants are worth checking out.
What are the most overlooked coffee shops in Belfast?
Brew & Bake Café, Output Espresso and Vietnamese Coffee Co are three very overlooked coffee shops in Belfast that knock up some great coffee!