Author: Emily McClean
We had the absolute pleasure of catching up with the women of Coffee and Cactus this week - what a duo!
Hidden inside Maven, Maryville Ave BT9
The pair’s unique passions came together beautifully to create the newest, trendiest cafe on the Lisburn Road.
Caitlin - the face and force behind Best Buds, an indoor plant and exotic flower florist, provides expertise on all things fern, monstera and cacti, while Celeste’s genuine passion and knowledge for coffee in any form is utterly infectious and lends itself perfectly to her new setting. Nestled in one of the most stunning interior stores Belfast has to offer (Maven), this contemporary, stylish paradise is one not to be missed!
This is what Celeste and Caitlin had to say...
What are two Aussies doing all the way over here in the wee city of Belfast?
Celeste - I turned 30 after living in London for 11 years, was living with 7 people and a dog in east London and while I did love it thought I needed a change of pace. Some of my best friends moved home to Belfast and every time I visited it I loved it. So figured f*** it. Let’s give it a shot. So glad I did!
Caitlin - My family is from Derry, so I had visited Ireland in my early 20's, did the touristy things, saw some family then travelled on. I never thought Id even up back here but after a stint living in Portugal I came over to visit some cousins and have been here ever since (10 years).
Has Coffee and Cactus been influenced by your Australian culture?
Absolutely, Australia has some the best cafes and customer service. Cafes, speciality coffee and community are a huge part of Aussie culture.
How did you both get involved in the plant/coffee industry? Where did it begin?
Celeste - I started working in speciality coffee about nine years ago in London. (Before that I used to drink a St*rbucks Caramel Macchiato) **gasp**.
Since then I worked in a number of cafes in Belfast and most recently worked for Bailies Coffee Roasters. Caitlin and I met about 4 years ago & the connection was palpable. I knew something beautiful would eventually come of our encounters.
Caitlin (left) and Celeste (right), Owners + Legends
Caitlin - At uni I had a part time job doing landscape gardening and I really loved physical work, plants and design. Both of my parents are amazing gardeners and guess my love for plants came from them. In my adult years I just became more and more fascinated, and now, after a lot of trial and error I have a pretty good handle on indoor plants, particularly what will and wont work in the Irish climate. I can't actually remember when I met Celeste... she just started showing up everywhere I was. She got me drunk and the lease got signed. **shrugs**
What’s your personal go-to brunch favourite?
Celeste - If you mean cafe, I love Linen and Latte in Glengormley, the food is always incredible and they’re some craic. If you mean to cook then poachies, quorn sausies, beans and beets with some kind of ridiculous hot sauce. Not fancy just hits the spot!
Caitlin - My favourite place for Brunch is Metro Café in Dublin. Same faces every time I go, good craic and local ingredients. If I'm cooking at home, some thing like Shakshuka or herby eggs on sourdough, classic, warming and shareable.
What’s your favourite thing about owning and working in Coffee and Cactus?
It’s a pretty delightful place to come into work everyday. The space is so beautiful, the customers are the best and the maven ladies are top notch company.
We LOVE the plant/coffee combo! What makes C&C stand out (and it most certainly does) in the coffee shop world of Northern Ireland?
There are so many brilliant cafes in Belfast. We knew we wanted our cafe to be different, a simple but delicious food menu, beautiful cakes and great ethically sourced coffee (Bailies Hunkute) set within an urban jungle. Also being within Maven has a real synergy with our concept, you can kill a bunch of lovely birds with one stone.
We're so thrilled that after a couple years in the making we’re up and running… and loving it!
What’s your coffee of choice?
Are you flat white fanatics or do your mornings begin with a filter of the day?
Caitlin - I drink flat whites. I started drinking them at 12 when my dad would take me to Cafe 130 in Perth, my best memories from my childhood are Saturday afternoon after the beach having a strawberry milkshake or a flat white.
Celeste - Filter all the way. Mostly washed. We serve our filters in my favourite cup of all time (Kinto) so that makes it all the sweeter.
Lastly, What does it mean to you to have an increasing number of women-owned cafes and female bosses working within the coffee industry?
It's brilliant to see more women owned business’ across the board. Although equality for women is still lacking in so many areas here and worldwide. Mostly though we want to get on with treating each other, our customers and staff with kindness and dignity... while having a bit of craic.
That said, we do have a few old blokes that like to come in to tell us wee girls how to do business.
And there we have it folks, two of the funniest, most kind hearted gems we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know through the ever-growing and evolving Northern Irish Coffee scene. It would be ridiculous not to go visit them - they’ll have you laughing, and swooning over delicious coffee, unique ferns and impeccable decor throughout your visit.
Say aloe from us!