You’ve been doing Northern Ireland’s North Coast wrong if you haven’t been fuelling up on caffeine after every beach stop. If you’re stuck for an activity perfect for either rain or shine, but still want to take in all the sights of the Atlantic Way, Lighthouse recommends hopping in the car and heading to the many coffee spots along the Causeway Coastal route. Here on the journal, we’ve put together a brief guide to what we believe are five of the North Coast’s best offerings. If you can hit all of them in one day, you’re guaranteed a good time.
1. Sea Shed Coffee & Surf
We started at Sea Shed Coffee and Surf on Benone Strand. This little building not only serves up aero-presses and flavoured teas, but is also the base camp for Long Line Surf School - both of which are owned and run by local man Dan Lavery. Dan and his team of baristas are also passionate surfers, and most of Sea Shed’s staff also work with Long Line. There’s plenty to talk to these guys about if you manage to get a seat inside. On a warm day you can sip your drink out on the shop’s terrace, or take it away to savour whilst enjoying a walk along Benone. All of Sea Shed’s take-away cups are fully biodegradable, and its staff are advocates for encouraging consumers to be environmentally conscious, so be sure to bring your cup back to the cafe to make sure it’s disposed of responsibly. Sea Shed is also keen to support locals makers, so you can find artwork, magazines, and other locally crafted goods for sale at the back of the shop. The vibes are cosy, friendly, and down to earth. You know you’re in a good spot when the barista serving your coffee has just come back from the surf! It’s impossible not to get sand on your shoes when visiting Sea Shed, and it could be easy to be tempted by a surf lesson whilst you’re there.
Lighthouse recommends the Sea Shed Mocha; it is a dream.
2. Paper Fig Portstewart
Paper Fig was the next stop on our list. Tucked away on the path between Portstewart Promenade and Portstewart Strand, Paper Fig has been brewing beans from Cork based roastery, Roasted Brown, since 2016. The views from this spot are stunning, looking right over the Atlantic Ocean. A nice added touch comes from binoculars placed on the window facing benches of the cafe, so if you feel like being nosey you can easily observe any passing sailors, or keep children happily occupied for at least a little while. Alongside coffee and cakes, Paper Fig serves up hot food all the way from breakfast to late afternoon lunch, with all of its offerings sourced from local farms. You could easily dander from the Strand to Paper Fig for a a lunchtime refuel.
Lighthouse recommends a slice of cake and an americano from a seat with a perfect ocean view.
3. Babushka Portrush
After piling back into the car we recommend heading into Portrush to visit Babushka Kitchen Cafe. Babushka is located on Portrush’s South Pier, just a stone’s throw away from West Strand and its iconic colourful beach huts. Catch Babushka on a sunny day and you could nab yourself a deck chair right on the seafront - the perfect location to let kids play on the beach whilst you enjoy an uninterrupted coffee break. It’s also in a great location for people watching, whilst still being somewhat peaceful.
Babushka works closely with local food vendors and consistently delivers great seasonal dishes for brunch and lunch; we enjoyed a pork and leek sausage with Ursa Minor sourdough toast and homemade chilli ketchup. Boss, George, loves to chat with his customers, recommending the best brews for each bean they serve up from prestigious Swedish roaster, Koppi.
George also makes his own fermented soda. It’s naturally carbonated, and created simply from fruit, water, and sugar - and it’s great! We think Babushka is the gem of all the Portrush cafes, keeping it fresh with new and exciting dishes and beverages all the time.
We recommend heading to Babushka for brunch and an Aeropress coffee.
4. Bothy at White Park Bay
Bothy at White Park Bay requires a little driving to get to, but with the views from the Causeway Coastal route as a backdrop you’d be silly not to make the trip. Bothy sells itself as a haven at the coast, and invites its visitors to make themselves at home. You could curl up by the fire with a hot chocolate and a book here, or head outside to watch the staff make pizzas in their very own wood fired pizza oven. Everything is served fresh, and the staff are always warm and friendly. You’re sure to meet someone you know in Bothy, or make friends with someone you don’t. You might even find your creative friend’s work for sale in the local craft area in a room off the main shop floor. Bothy uses beans from Northern Irish roaster Bailies, and they make a great flat white. The vibes in Bothy are rustic and homely, and you feel like you can linger in the relaxed environment for as long as you like. Right nearby is White Park Bay, and from here you’re also not too far way from White Rocks Beach, Portballintrae, or Ballintoy Harbour.
Lighthouse recommends a flat white and a homemade cinnamon swirl that is absolutely to die for.
5. Ursa Minor Ballycastle
Last on our Causeway Coast coffee stop tour is Ursa Minor. Ursa Minor is a coffee shop and bakehouse boasting the most incredible homemade breads and pastries. If you want a cruffin (a hybrid of a croissant and muffin), this is the place to head. Situated in the quaint, endearing town of Ballycastle, Ursa Minor takes you almost to the end of the Atlantic Way. It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s very much worth it. It makes a great place to start or finish your trip along the coast. The staff are lovely, and you can seek recipe inspiration from them, or from their extensive collection of cook books placed along the cafe’s banquet style middle table.
Ursa Minor often run bread making workshops from its kitchen downstairs, and you can have a nosey at this space on your way to the toilet. Lighthouse staff love it here, and have been known to call in just before closing after long photoshoot days. You can’t go to Ursa Minor without bringing home at least one loaf of bread.
We recommend any baked good from Ursa Minor, with a hot drink of your choice to compliment.
Here ends our whistle-stop tour of the Causeway Coast coffee scene. If you want to find out any more about these spots, or others worth visiting, check out NI Coffee Maps ‘Causeway Coast Coffee Map’, perfect for the brew seeking adventurer.
We can’t wait for a long Summer of drinking coffee at the coast! Let us know your favourite spots below.Back to all Articles