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Kiln & Loom, Belfast

We haven’t done a Q&A for a little while so this week we’ve been connecting with people around Northern Ireland who make coffee every day…

Meet René from Kiln & Loom, Belfast.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a designer, printmaker, retailer, coffee kiosk barista and mother , Kiln & loom is my 2nd retail venture and this time includes a coffee Kiosk. I love serving coffee – I love the smell of it and whole notion of it.

How did you get into coffee?

I started making coffee in 1994 as a student in Edinburgh, I was 19. At that time I ate whole, chocolate-covered coffee beans that we served with the coffee (!), I didn’t actually begin drinking coffee (or tea) until I was 24 – I started to drink it to warm up! I worked in a large open plan graphic design office in a draughty converted warehouse in Leith, Edinburgh – it was cold….coffee was hot! I was hooked. It makes me happy, I have no shame in admitting I am an addict, I have to have 2 good coffee’s everyday otherwise I get kind’ve miserable about things….coffee makes me very, very happy!

How do you make coffee at home?

Well, because my coffee of choice is a flat white (though when we started drinking coffee this way we had no idea it had a name), a domestic espresso machine at home worked well – the temperature was perfect. Domestic espresso machines don’t ever heat the water enough for a good Americano for example so they are not for everyone. They also have a limited lifespan….so we have had maybe 8/9 of them to date. (My husband loves coffee too).

Kiln & Loom, Belfast

Espresso or filter?

Espresso, – espresso is simple, and I think because it has been how I first learned to make coffee, I have a sentimental attachment to it – the machines are so very pleasing to look at too – I am aesthetically pleased! I am a Flat White drinker so it works best for me.

What’s the best coffee you’ve had recently that we should all try?

Well of course our house blend Tiamo Espresso from Bailies Coffee Co – we have lots of very happy customers who tell us everyday how much they like our blend, it is smooth, caramelly, clean and woody – it has depth yet I find it light and there is just a gentle rise in serotonin levels in me after drinking it – it is not going to give you a trembling hand and a shove into the afternoon, it will just spread a beautiful smile across your face that will last until it’s time for your mid-afternoon dose!

What developments would you like to see in coffee here in NI?

More, more good coffee shops and kiosks, all over the Island, not just in main cities. Have you ever tried to get a good coffee on a Sunday morning in Enniskillen for example? More outdoor coffee drinking going on – pavement culture is still lagging behind here, why? Also, there are no kiosks here, In Edinburgh & Dublin I stopped at kiosks everyday to get a coffee – there isn’t always time to go and sit down, but coffee is essential, so I put a kiosk window in my shop . There was nowhere else on the Ormeau road (or any other road in Belfast), where you could stop on the street for a coffee without going into a premises battling past tables and chairs maybe with a pram, to get a takeaway coffee. The kiosk works, it works really well, people love it, dog owners, cyclists, parents etc all love not having to abandon some part of their party outside while they go in to get a coffee. I would also really love to see more smiling from the barista’s, less beards, less seriousness about coffee – it is a given, we are there, we have great coffee, people are going to keep on buying it, needing it, wanting it and enjoying it. Thank your customers for coming, build up a rapport, make everyone feel welcome….in Italy, New Zealand, Australia, New York, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, really good coffee is part of the morning for everyone – not just bespectacled tapered trouser, brogue wearing cyclista’s…every coffee drinker deserves great coffee – let’s make sure they can get it here in Ireland. Served with smiles, smiling works for both giver and receiver.

Are there any challenges working in coffee for women that you’ve experienced firsthand?

None I imagine are exclusive to being a woman, running a business is hard graft male or female – being self employed eliminates a lot of gender inequality.


Thanks to René for answering our questions… we might have to argue a bit re: the ‘seriousness about coffee’ as we think coffee is a very serious business indeed. That said, I have a beard too so…. #awkward #justkidding

We love the positivity and totally agree about Northern Ireland needing a few more kiosks and outdoor coffee. Oh, did you spot the awesome Freckle in the pictures?

Check Kiln & Loom out on Facebook and on Twitter and, go visit them too.

Kiln & Loom can be found at 387 Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 3GP

Thanks again René!

Coffee in Paris Part Five

40 Rue Chapon
3rd arrondissement

We had some time to spend between check-out and our departure from Paris so on our last day we wanted to spend a few hours in a nearby coffee shop. We’d walked enough and we just wanted to sit in a comfortable place and drink coffee. Loustic was close to our apartment and, a quick takeaway coffee earlier in the week had instantly convinced me that we needed to go back and spend longer there. I think we were there for about three hours… Loustic is a warm environment, inviting, furnished beautifully and bustling with activity but we felt at home.

The coffee was from Caffenation and was really great. We brought home a bag of Kenya Ken and were absolutely blown away by it. It’s been one of the very best coffees we’ve tasted so far this year. Fruity and bold… an amazing coffee!

Channa Galhenage who owns Loustic is a lively character, passionate about coffee and good service. It was a pleasure to meet him and to chat about why he does what he does. Watching him and Benjamin Wright – who has since moved on to open his own cafe in Aix-en-Provence – was a fun way to spend our last few hours in Paris. It’s always exciting to watch baristas do their job well and with passion, we saw this often in Paris but we were still talking about Loustic hours later. When people make an impression it sticks, Channa makes an impression.

Coffee in Paris, Loustic

Hopefully we won’t offend anyone but, we left the best coffee experience for our last day in Paris with Loustic. We were super impressed and we look forward to meandering along the streets and returning to Loustic some day in our future.

Coffee in Paris, Loustic

And that’s it for the Coffee in Paris blog posts…

Paris was wonderful, the coffee was wonderful and the people were super. We didn’t get to have conversation with everyone in every coffee shop but the big city, big population and it’s exciting coffee scene overwhelmed us a little. A truly wonderful week well spent.

Middletown Coffee Co Pop-up again…

On Saturday morning we hopped in the car to witness Middletown Coffee Co. Pop-up again…

This time around they had teamed up with Ursa Minor Bakehouse who will soon occupy a permanent space in Ballycastle… support them on Kickstarter here, it’s going to be awesome.

We zoomed into Ballycastle thinking about doughnuts and beautifully brewed coffee to jump-start our Saturday morning to be greeted by a queue for these delicious treats. We waited for almost 40 minutes, chatting to other excited folks who had been following the adventures of both Ursa Minor and Middletown and who knew the wait was definitely worth it.

It was!

We have a public apology to make to everyone who was behind us in that queue though… we got the last four doughnuts! Once we tasted them, we weren’t a bit sorry… good grief they were amazing! You snooze you loose!

Ursa Minor Bakehouse

Everything was splendid! The community buzz, the coffees, the food, the smiles and excited supporters of these quality people…

Middletown Coffee Co pop-up again Middletown Coffee Co pop-up again Middletown Coffee Co pop-up again Middletown Coffee Co pop-up again

Ballycastle is immensely blessed to have Ursa Minor and we know Ballymena will be immensely blessed when Middletown Coffee Co. open their doors in our hometown…

[Featured image by Emma Hickinson] See more images and feedback at the Middletown Coffee Co. blog here.

Not Coffee, Beer

We’ve been watching the Beerbods craze with interest for a little while… we are not huge beer fanatics but, tastes and flavours are important to coffee drinkers right? This peaked our interest first and, I guess the other information about where the beverage comes from followed from that… This is not coffee, this is beer… but like coffee, beer has a story and an origin albeit a very different one.

When the Beerbods guys asked if we’d like some beers to try out we said ‘oh yes.’

Here’s a little look at the first couple of beers we’ve tasted which might just appeal to coffee drinkers.


Bloody ‘Ell – We have never brewed a straight IPA at Beavertown, why change the habit of a lifetime! Here we take a stripped back IPA malt bill and highly hop it with the tropics of Amarillo and Citra and pile head on with kilos of Blood Orange zest and juice late in the boil, bringing you a smack of citrus and hints of warm orange aromas.

One of our favourite and most popular seasonal brews. We will be canning Bloody ‘Ell too from February until the bloody oranges run dry!

First things first, don’t drink too much of this if you get your hands on it! At 7.2% it packs a punch! The orange explosion hit us on the nose as soon as it was close to our face, orange peel…. citrus. The taste was sharp… bitter with a hint of grapefruit alongside the orange zestyness. Mrs Simpson said it tasted like ear wax…. she’s loco! ha!

Coffee drinkers who like the big fruity punchy taste that you would expect from Ethiopian coffees or a super funky Nicaraguan Pacamara {this one at Hasbean} should enjoy the intensity of flavour here. I loved it and as well as the alcohol content I think the interesting and intense flavour would make me want to savour a small quantity of this… it’s perfect in a can!

not coffee, beer otley 08 epic

Otley is a micro-brewery based in Wales, here’s what they say about their process and yes we know, this is detailed but coffee lovers appreciate process and meticulous detail…

We believe in using the highest quality ingredients with every effort made to source our produce from the local area, including fresh Breconshire water and the finest malts and hops available. Once we have all our essential ingredients, we can begin the science, the art that is brewing.

Hot water (liquor) is added to the “Mash tun”. This is a vessel where malt and wheat are mixed with the hot liquor to produce a sugar extract known as “wort”. This is formed by the breakdown of the malt starch into sugars which in turn dissolve into the liquor. This process usually takes around 90 minutes to complete. When all the wort has been extracted from the mash, we can begin to transfer it into the next vessel, known as the “Copper”, by a process known to us as “wort run-off”

As the wort is being run off, the surface of the mash is “sparged” which involves spaying the mash with hot liquor. The liquor passes down through the mash, washing out the wort into the copper. This run off process is carried out over a 60-90 minute period, depending on the size of the brew.

Once the run-off is complete, the Copper is heated up to boiling point and boiled vigorously. This boiling of the wort ensures it is sterile and prevents a lot of infections. Hops are added during the boil, and these contribute to bitterness, flavour, and aroma of the beer. Here at the Otley Brewing Company we use a variety of different hops in each of our brews, a number of which are mentioned in the tasting notes of our beers in the “Our Ales” section of this website. This step usually takes between 60 and 120 minutes.

At the end of the boil, the wort must be brought down to fermentation temperatures (20-26oC) before the yeast can be added. The cooling medium used is usually water and this functions via a heat exchanger. After cooling, Oxygen can be dissolved into the wort to revitalise the yeast
and aid its reproduction.

After the wort is cooled and transferred into the fermentation vessels (FV’s), yeast is added and it begins to ferment. During this process the sugars produced by the malt are metabolised into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

When the sugars in the fermenting beer have been almost completely digested, the fermentation slows down and the yeast starts to settle to the bottom of the tank. At this stage, the beer is cooled, which encourages settling of the yeast, and causes proteins to coagulate and settle out with the yeast. The beer is then ready to be racked into casks, which are then in turn taking to the cold store in order for secondary fermentation to take place.


Reading this gets us excited about the process that results in such a tasty ale. This ale also packed a big punch at 8% so 330ml in a bottle was just about right… beautiful golden ale in a stumpy little bottle… but it’s seriously big on taste.

Honey, malt and a little bitterness make this an easy drinking ale. Really tasty!

We will tell you about some more beers soon but, in the meantime check out Beerbods. In the same way that a coffee subscription is great for getting variety in your coffee drinking, these guys will expand your beer knowledge, connect you to fellow enthusiasts and you’ll be drinking amazing beers as well. What’s not great about that eh?

Coffee in Paris Part Four

54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
8th arrondissement

Honor was an absolute joy! We were compelled to visit after reading several articles about them before our trip, most notably the Sprudge post here.

Daniel and Angelle were super friendly and it was great to experience how they are contributing to coffee in Paris. We had lunch – amazing rare roast beef sandwiches – and coffee there… Oh, and we had a lovely chocolate brownie too. We tried the long black, a filter shot and an espresso.

The coffee at Honor was superb but, the espresso was pretty much the best I’ve had for a really long time and deserves a special mention. The setting is a beautiful courtyard which whisks you away from busy Paris into a quiet oasis of calm… a seriously cool place that is just yards away from places we could never afford to shop in.

Honor only opened in February but they seem right at home in Paris already. Their passion is clear for customers to see… we loved Honor.

Coffee in Paris Part Three

5 rue Villedo 75001
1st arrondissement

In Telescope, you immediately recognise that the coffee is the priority. The atmosphere was quieter compared with other coffee shops and paris in general, the simplicity of the surroundings was a refreshing calm from the busy city outside. Maybe it’s not always this way but we enjoyed a short stop here for coffee and hot chocolate. Telescope use Hasbean coffee which was almost like a slice of home for us. The delicious filter brewed in the Aeropress was… erm, delicious! Check out that double Aeropress action in the picture below. When we thought about coffee in Paris before our trip, Telescope was one of the must-visits on our list, it didn’t disappoint even though our visit was short.

Matamata Coffee Bar
58 Rue d’Argout, 75002
2nd arrondissement

Matamata was really close to where we stayed but ironically with so many other sights to see in Paris, we only got to pay a quick visit for a coffee-to-go. I had a lovely aeropress/filter made with coffee from French Roaster Caffe Cataldi. Read the recent Sprudge post about Stéphane Cataldi here. We bought some beans to bring home to Northern Ireland… Ethiopian Biftu Gudina… and, wow! This was one of the every best coffees we have tasted so far in 2015! Stunning!

Matamata is a lovely little place, serving beautiful coffee. We will return someday…