Ulster rugby stars behind new Guilt Trip Coffee shop in east Belfast

The new Guilt Trip ,coffee and donuts shop in east Belfast is owned by Ulster rugby players Callum Black (pictured) and Darren Cave. Picture by Hugh Russell
Gareth McKeown

TWO current Ulster rugby stars are tackling a new business venture in the heart of east Belfast.

Destination coffee and donut shop Guilt Trip is the brainchild of Callum Black and Darren Cave and is already proving to be a popular addition to the market.

Opened on April 6 the sight of eager customers queuing outside the quaint Orangefield Lane premises has become commonplace as the pair look to find success off the pitch as well as on it.

Callum Black (31) joined Ulster in 2011 and was immediately struck by the coffee culture in Belfast.

Developing a strong passion for coffee thereafter the self-taught home barista began using social media to document his activity under the banner of the 'Baldy Barista' and after positive feedback from team-mate Darren (30) began exploring the possibility of opening a shop.

"When I was doing my Baldy Barista Instagram account Darren was the one saying you should get a logo designed, so I did. He also suggested opening a coffee shop.

"Being in the rugby bubble going into the outside world is quite daunting. I'd never been outside that bubble, but thought I'd love to do it. I showed Darren my plans and he was a bit tentative at the start, because he probably didn't have the same passion for coffee, but I think he saw I had a good idea and wanted to get involved and have something to focus on outside of rugby."

"The whole concept around Guilt Trip is that it is a destination not a coffee shop. It's somewhere you come to even if you don't live local, people will travel. It's not just a coffee shop it is a brand. We're doing the merchandise - the mugs, the t-shirts, we really want to show people it's an experience and buy in. The idea is fairly simple - we're trying to serve up the best coffee and the best donuts in Belfast. To be different and to try and produce the best coffee we're only doing guest roasters so we don't have an anchor roaster that we stick to like a lot of coffee shops, we're changing every month."

Along with Callum and Darren the team includes barista Ben Hamilton, formerly of Town Square, Ben Connolly of Angel and Anchor, who has provided branding and photography and master baker Corri Withers, who helps create the sought after donuts.

"It's enjoyable and exciting," Callum said.

"Darren and I are really enjoying it. The whole team has just been blown away by the response from people, we're just frustrated we can't serve everyone their donuts, because we sell out."

Looking to the future and the Ulster rugby players hope to grow the Guilt Trip brand and expand operations.

"We see this as something we could branch out with if we find the right area. Potentially in the future that's something we will look to do.

"Everyone knows rugby doesn't last forever and I've always been quite keen to get something started while I was still playing to plan for the future. To be honest a coffee shop wasn't always my idea, but I very much see this as something I want to carry on," Callum added.

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