There’s nothing better than that special pick-me-up. A blast of aromatic blended coffee beans, frothed and flavoured to perfection.

Be it to start your morning with an invigorating caffeine fix, coffee with family and friends or even a romantic date, sometimes we just need to break the chains and venture somewhere with a little bit more atmosphere. A little bit more tender loving care. And a little bit more devoted attention poured into each cup…

Whilst admittedly the likes of Starbucks and Cafe Nero offer a rather reliable, if predictable, service, sometimes it all feels rather sterile.

Here’s our list of the top places to break the chains and reawaken your taste buds with a fresh cup of coffee in the city.

1. La Casa

162 Andersonstown Rd

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Offering a refreshing change of scenery, La Casa is The Number One place to go for something dramatically different from the masses. There is certainly no lack of character in this cosy, beautifully designed, intimate Spanish-style gourmet coffee shop. This is the best Mochachino I have ever tasted. The authentic Flat White (hard to find elsewhere) is tremendous, and provides a real burst of energy with its unique, flavoursome, rich taste.

As well as the lengthy and far-ranging coffees to sit in or takeaway there is also a fantastic range of hot food options available. Even better – the portions are extremely generous.

La Casa interior

For one Mochachino, one Flat White, and a scone practically the size of your head, you will only be set back a measly 7 quid.  Between this, and the coffee tasting how it was probably intended before the mass market got their hands on it, as well as the amazing sitting-in experience, make this your top priority the next time you’re after a burst of energy and flavour.

2. Established Coffee

54 Hill St

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One for coffee lovers everywhere. The knowledgeable and enthusiastic baristas are passionate about coffee. And it shows. If you’re as bemused as I am when you ask for a recommendation in a bar or restaurant and are met with a blank unfriendly glare, then you’ll love the staff here.

Not only do you have your choice of bean for each coffee, they talk you through the process if you’re a first-timer and are particularly helpful. And most shocking of all… friendly.

Reasonably priced, with amazing open-space, modern décor and a massive family-style table in the centre (with more private tables along the side if you prefer), this place is deservedly queued out-the-door (and that was on a Sunday).

The coffee menu changes regularly (you wouldn’t see that at Starbucks), giving you a fantastic range of fresh options all the time to try out. And the food is mouth-watering. Plugs are also available for all those glued to their phones.

An even better added bonus is the range of gourmet coffee beans and other gadgets available. Ideal for presents or a coffee lover wanting to splurge.

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3. 5A Lockview Rd

Stranmillis

5a

Newly added to our list by popular demand, it seems 5A is fast becoming a favourite amongst coffee lovers – who rave about their truly authentic Cappuccinos and excellent range of dairy and gluten free snacks!

A great place for celeb spotting too if you’re so inclined – we have it on good authority (thanks Kat Mervyn!) that Kit Karington, aka John Snow, likes to frequent it for his morning coffee!

4. Clements

Locations throughout Belfast

clements

We’re glad you reminded us that whilst there are a few of them throughout Belfast, Clements is in fact an independent coffee shop – and a very good one at that!

We personally believe their Caramel Lattes are one of the best we’ve ever tasted – and reviews cite their coffee as particularly brilliant due to their strength and strong taste. The Lisburn Rd and Stranmillis cafes are particularly cosy to sit in, whilst the one inside Queen’s SU is always buzzing.

5. Sinnamon

 80 Stranmillis Rd

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No list would be complete without Sinnamon. Due to its prime location in Stranmillis, this is one of the most well-known little coffee shops in Belfast and is particularly popular amongst students and young professionals due to its distinctive coffees available and excellent service.

Delicious coffee, divine desserts (try the waffles) and decadent lunch-time treats are the order of the day at this friendly cafe.

It has the added benefit of outside seating in leafy Stranmillis, and offers great food and free wifi. The cosy sofas inside are also ideal for a real sit down chill with your caffeine hit. A great place for a catch-up with friends or relax with a book.

6. Oliver’s

57 Belmont Rd

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If you’re looking for a European-style coffee house in Belfast, Oliver’s is the place for you. Situated on the trendy Belmont Road, come here to get your fix of delicious coffee and speciality tea.

Serving the finest quality food using freshly using locally sourced ingredients. Customers say the carrot cake, Banoffee brownies and Tunisian orange cake are the best they have ever tasted.

The log burner makes this an ideal location for cold wintry nights when you must sample their award winning locally roasted Bailies coffee and Jing Tea. The only establishment in Northern Ireland to brew the very same tea that Heston Blumenthal serves at the Fat Duck.

7. California Coffee

38 Ann St

california coffee

Edmund Byrne and his brother Ronan have been running California Coffee on Arthur Street for the last 15 years, turning their love of the roasted bean into a successful enterprise. They started the business due to their passion for coffee, and realisation that the options available at the time weren’t good enough and set about to change that.

Now they are set to do the same thing again. With an innovative move newly opened in a bigger location, complete with a specialist burger restaurant at Ann Street in Belfast city centre.

Not only does  it serve a divine coffee, (try the Nutty Latte) but the paninis are delicious for a lunchtime treat.

Reasonably priced, this place is deservedly thriving. Good service, great atmosphere.

8. The National Grande Cafe

62 High Street

the national cafe

The National Grande Cafe Bar offers a taste of the continent in the heart of the city’s vibrant Cathedral Quarter.

With fantastic authentic coffee and fresh pastries on the go, as well as an array of delicious soups and sandwiches and evening meals, makes this a versatile, dynamic, vibrant option to get your caffeine fix.

It also boasts the largest beer garden in the city – the perfect spot for an evening get together or a break from a hard day’s shopping. Barbeques and live music are regularly held during the summer months. Offering coffee with a difference.

9. Espresso Elements

370A Lisburn Rd

Expresso Elements

A small but pleasant coffee shop, Espresso Elements is often packed out the front door in the early mornings with school-kids and workers. Go in the evening time, when the dark, sophisticated, atmospheric décor really adds to the ambiance as you look out on the bustling Lisburn Road. It’s even better when it’s freezing outside and you’re wrapped up comfortably with the wide selection of blends and types available.

The extra effort by staff who are particularly devoted to their craft is abundantly reflected in the resulting coffee. And whilst the owner has smartly insisted upon not allowing this coffee shop to become a cafe in order to focus almost primarily on his craft, they provide food from local shops and bakeries.

10.  Arizona

 406 Lisburn Rd

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Amazing menu, consisting of an extensive range of great coffees and yummy treats. What sets Arizona apart is its decadent range of hot chocolates (there are eight different options!) As well as its (ironically enough) ‘Not Coffee’ section – consisting of herbal teas, and choice of water and soft drinks.

Be sure to try an Iced Coffee for under £3 or a gorgeous Frappe for just £3.45.

This place is ideal for going with friends, and is guaranteed to appeal to non-coffee lovers. The cosy décor, laid-back atmosphere, prime location and delicious menu all add up to make Arizona a superb spot for a coffee break.

11. Miel et Moi

703 Lisburn Rd

Miel et Moi

A refreshing change to the Lisburn Rd, Northern Ireland’s first licensed Patisserie and Cafe Bar offers hand baked sweet delights hand baked daily using locally sourced ingredients.

Inspired by classical French bars and patisseries, the lovingly prepared drinks and coffees is strongly reflected in the gorgeous taste. Make sure to sit outside on a warm summers day to really soak up the vibrant Lisburn Rd atmosphere.

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