Could ATM Coffee in north Belfast be Northern Ireland’s smallest coffee shop? Owner Campbell Morris certainly thinks so and at a total of six square metres, it is hard to imagine how it could get much smaller.
The coffee shop is not only small, it also makes innovative use of a tight space that fell into disuse, thanks to Covid.
It is housed in what used to be an ATM at 622 Antrim Road, installed in a building owned by Aidan Rainey of Belfast Back Care and Physiotherapy.
After refurbishing his own building, Mr Rainey was at a loss over what to do with the site of the old ATM, with no prospect of another tenant because of Covid.
Mr Morris (42), whose mother is a restaurateur and publican in Scotland, suggested to Mr Rainey he try his hand at a “coffee or catering option” which would complement local businesses in the area.
“I’d worked in that industry a long time ago but had no current catering experience,” he said.
“Covid did for a lot of ATMs, they just weren’t sustainable any more because of the drop-off in cash usage. If it’s not the smallest coffee shop, it must be close.”
After getting started during lockdown, the popularity of nearby walking routes has been invaluable for the new business.
“With people staying at home and having to look locally for how to spend the summer holidays and before that lockdown - although plenty of locals knew about how splendid Cavehill Country Park is and Napoleon’s Nose and all that – it probably wasn’t as much on the map for people in Belfast and further afield,” he added.
"We live around the corner and you can look up at that skyline and view of Napoleon’s Nose. The numbers increase since lockdown has just been exponential last year and that seems to have held with people unable to travel abroad during the summer.”
Mr Morris’ idea which sparked the beginning of ATM Coffee could eventually lead to the possibility of similar businesses.
“There’s no two ways about it, ATMs are certainly going to for the most part disappear and cash as a physical identity might vanish over the next few decades,” he added.
“There are certainly a lot of ATMs and coffee seems ubiquitous, there’s coffee outlets and kiosks everywhere and people’s expectations in terms of the quality and an artisan accompaniment seems to become ever higher all the time.
“If it works and it’s sustainable and the staff don’t seem unduly confined, it would probably be quite an efficient use of otherwise obsolete real estate. I’m sure local authorities would be happy with the rates income.”
Mr Morris is himself 6 foot 1 and apart from calling by for a coffee, leaves the running of ATM Coffee to a team of able staff after creating several jobs in north Belfast.
ATM Coffee serves Segafredo Zanetti coffee while their traybake and sandwich selection are provided by another Northern Ireland business, Deli Lites in Newry.