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Next step for Gardiners Ground Espresso a multi-million pound expansion and new jobs

Specialist coffee bar Ground Espresso, run by husband and wife Darren and Karen Gardiner, is set to reveal a multi-million pound expansion which will create a "considerable" number of new jobs.

The pair have also unveiled the £100,000 refurb of their cafe at Next in Belfast city centre, while they have also upgraded their concession at bookshop Waterstones.

There are also Ground coffee shops around Northern Ireland in Ballymena, Ballymoney, Bushmills, Coleraine, Portrush and Sprucefield.

Mr Gardiner said the business was regularly inundated by national retailers wowed by its business model at Next.

Details of its expansion remain under wraps until tomorrow and come amid the Northern Ireland company's 13th anniversary celebrations.

The brand has also been named among the top 50 coffee bars in the UK by the Independent newspaper.

Mr Gardiner said: "We are being asked on almost a fortnightly basis to link up with different retailers, on the Next model," he said.

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"It's exciting for us to be chosen by the likes of Next, which is a real cash-rich company, so to be picked by them is a bit of a coup for us. For a Northern Ireland company to be involved with one of the UK big boys is really good news and we are getting offers from further afield, even Italy," he said.

He said the Ground Espresso brand was part of a new era of specialist coffee shops, such as Established Coffee in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter and Lost and Found Coffee in Coleraine.

He said these special, artisan coffee bars were aiming to educate coffee drinkers from focusing on merely the brands. He acknowledged the label artisan is bandied about too liberally but stressed his product was just that in the true sense of the word.

"I can give you a single estate coffee from a farmer I can name: you can't get that at Costa," he said. "It's important to draw a line between what we do and what other specialist coffee shops do, which is to take a bite out of the hipster trend of specialist coffee houses. We focus on quality and try to be innovative."