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Brewing up new business on Derry’s riverfront

06 May 2016

A cutting edge Derry business has taken cosmopolitan dining to new heights with the opening of a new Fairtrade Brew Bar in a stunning prime location along the city’s riverfront.

The Brew Bar at RoCo Eco-Organic Hair & Beauty on the quayside, has a separate uber trendy seated dining area on the ground floor and dining area on the upper mezzanine level adjoining its award-winning salon.

Mary Blake, Tourism Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council which is supporting Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 - a year-long celebration highlighting the concept of everything delicious produced locally - welcomed the opening of the Brew Bar which brings a new addition to the city and distinctive new coffee culture experience to the banks of the Foyle.

She said: “We have just celebrated NI Year of Food and Drink’s Brewing and Distilling month with many of our finest local producers and suppliers showcasing their products at both the LegenDerry Food Festival and Big Cheese & Beer Expo, which attracted tens of thousands of visitors to the city during April.

“It is fantastic to see another successful local business, not traditionally associated with dining, branching out as RoCo has done to offer visitors such a unique food and drink experience in an ideal location along Derry’s riverfront.”

RoCo, which was recently shortlisted in The Guardian Observer Top 5 Ethical Awards, moved to its luxurious new premises at Strand Road after its previous salon was damaged in a fire at a nearby restaurant last year.

However, Ronan Stewart and Connor Grant, company directors, said relocating to the quayside directing overlooking the River Foyle and opening of the Brew Bar, has had a phenomenal response from customers who are also looking forward to a planned new al fresco dining area on the piazza.

The pair were on a business trip to Dublin when they were inspired by 3fe, a cool coffee shop business in the capital, and the ideas literally started to brew for them.

Connor recalled: “On a business trip to the factory that creates some of our RoCo hair products in Dublin, we stumbled upon 3fe and saw the growing coffee culture in the city. We both felt Derry was ripe for this opportunity and made plans to expand our current business by adding a Brew Bar maximising our superb riverfront location and panoramic views across the banks of the Foyle.

“3fe coffee and RoCo also share a core passion, Fairtrade; we are very proud to be Ireland's only Fairtrade salon and Brew Bar. The Brew Bar was created to be a space that everyone, not just hair clients, could come and relax with that perfect cup of coffee or tea – an ideal lunchtime venue for all the nearby office workers too.”

Barrista Manager Andrew McSparran is passionate about their new coffee experience.  “We know everyone has something going on in their lives, and when they come to the Brew Bar, we want to make those few minutes spent with us an environment they feel relaxed and welcomed in. We strive for great customer service, alongside some great food, tea and coffee.

 “Our coffee is all Fairtrade, freshly roasted on the docks of Dublin. When we place the order for our coffee on the Tuesday, it’s then roasted on the Wednesday morning and with us on Thursday. We let it rest for six days to let the gasses released from the bean settle. The flavour is incredible when it’s used, you really can taste the freshness.

“We measure and weigh each shot of coffee we pour, to make sure we are always consistent so that your drink will be as delicious as you remembered. If it’s not right, we won’t serve it, we will always remake it.

“We clean our coffee machine at least six times per day to make sure you’re always getting the freshest coffee possible in your cup. We focus a lot of time and effort into each cup, we don’t just throw it together. It’s a process that we love.”

Coffee connoisseurs can avail of an Espresso, Cortado (an espresso cut with a small amount of warm milk), Americano, Flat White, Cappuccino or Latte together with the hottest new arrival in town, Chemex Pour Overs, in the expert hands of Andrew who makes the process look and sound like an art form.

Traditional and speciality teas – including leaves grown on the highest volcanoes of the Hubei province in China – are also available together with locally sourced menu choices which include mouth-watering focaccia with Sticky BBQ or Pesto Chicken, Beef Brisket sandwich, Middle Eastern spiced mezze perfectly suited for vegans, and organic Irish made yoghurt with passion fruit and granola.

Freshly baked cakes and tray bakes from the Green Cat Bakery in Eglinton are also going down a treat with the Brew Bar’s customers.

Andrew will shortly be sharing his expertise and passion for every available coffee, when he hosts a series of Brew Bar Workshops to be confirmed soon on the website and Facebook page.

As well as the amazing food and drinks and, the beautiful scenery, there is live music every Saturday from 2pm-4pm, featuring the latest up-and-coming talent from across the North West.

The Brew Bar is a great new addition to the food and drink offer in the city and region, which continues to grow as a foodie destination of note.