Belfast Telegraph

Pop-up coffee shop ready to brew up a storm in Ballymena

By Jamie Stinson

When it comes to specialty coffee, it seems Northern Ireland just cannot get enough, with Ballymena the latest town to see the arrival of a trendy cafe.

Middletown Coffee will be hosting a pop-up coffee shop at the retailer Good Folk in the town on Saturday, October 4 to allow people to come and taste its many different products.

The project is the work of husband and wife Johnny and Emma Hickinson, and Liam Thompson and his fiance Laura Coulter. And while their venture is initially temporary, they are also on the hunt for more permanent premises in the town.

Northern Ireland's specialty coffee scene has really started to flourish during the past few years, with Lost and Found in Coleraine and Established in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

Thanks to businesses such as these, consumers have become more educated about what they are buying and where it is from.

Specialty coffee is a world away from the brews served up in chains such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee, with the focus on higher-quality, single-origin coffees and helping customers understand what they are buying.

Johnny Hickinson said: "We get super-excited about coffee, food and people, and we want to share excitement and knowledge with the public and help educate them about what they are having and exactly where it's from.

"At Middletown, you can expect lots of smiles, lots of excitement, lots of tasty coffees, lots of local seasonal foods and, most of all, a very consistent service", the Ballymena native added.

Meanwhile, coffee bar Ground Espresso, run by husband and wife Darren and Karen Gardiner, will today reveal a multi-million pound expansion that will create a "considerable" number of jobs.

The pair have also unveiled the £100,000 refurbishment of their cafe at Next in Belfast, and they have upgraded their concession at the bookshop Waterstones.

On top of that, there are Ground coffee shops around Northern Ireland, including in Ballymena, Ballymoney, Bushmills, Coleraine, Portrush and Sprucefield.

The successful coffee chain business is this year celebrating its thirteenth anniversary.

Belfast Telegraph