Michael AndersonPaul O'ConnorRonnie Irvine
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Castlewellan’s MTB-Friendly Café

Posted on August 12, 2014 @ 4:59 PM in Mountainbiking

The beauty of the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails is that there are a host of welcoming cafes, bars and restaurants just minutes from the trailhead however one coffee house that stands out from the crowd when it comes to providing a truly first class mountain biker friendly service.

Urban Coffee

Urban Coffee opened in the autumn of 2012 (approx 6 months before the trails in Castlewellan officially opened to the public) and ever since owner Caitriona McCabe and her team have fully embraced the trails and always welcome us dishevelled mountain bikers with open arms …mud and all!

We were biking down in Castlewellan this week and so popped into Urban Coffee to find out a bit more about Caitriona and to see if she has been bitten by the mountain biking bug yet herself!

1. So Caitriona, with Urban Coffee open almost two years now, how are you settling in?
Thanks to the support of our local community and due to our team's unfaltering enthusiasm for quality food and customer service, we have to say that time has flown in since we opened our doors. As a company, we pride ourselves on proactively implementing and maintaining everything that enhances our patrons in-store experience e.g. creative specials, discount deals, loyalty cards and a dedication to personalised service.

Urban Coffee

Moreover, all of our staff have received  Barista training to ensure that every cup of coffee is nothing short of perfection. Our customers have been there every step of the way, offering encouragement and constructive feedback - which has ultimately contributed to Urban Coffee's success. We plan on sustaining our sensitivity to discerning locals to ensure Urban Coffee continues to create value to new and loyal customers alike, for many years to come.

2. Has Castlewellan always been ‘home’ for you?
In a way, the entire Mourne Area has always been home. After having been born and raised in Newcastle, I immigrated to Southern California in my early teens. It was quite a culture shock at the time but in many ways these were the years when my passion for gourmet food (that could be both nutritious and tasty), quality coffee and good business sense began to take root. I lived and worked in California for years and it was only on one of my visits home that I met Niall.

In time, we married and had four boys. There was intermittent travelling but Castlewellan has been home ever since we met. Though I cannot pretend to deny my American influences, I seized and revelled the opportunity to amalgam my experiences in the US with my new life in Castlewellan. And in my own small way I accomplished this by adding a touch of 'Urbanization' to the somewhat rural to create an entirely new dining experience.

Urban Coffee

3. Can you put your finger on why Urban Coffee seems to have become a real hit with cyclists?
We think Urban Coffee has been an instantaneous hit with the locals because of the 'home from home' we have created. Very quickly we realised that we had established a niche as the local provider of home baked foods coupled with high end coffee in an extremely relaxed environment. This combination was relatively new to the Castlewellan area; thus our unique offering was greatly appreciated.

Urban coffee

Urban Coffee benefits from several features that are naturally attractive to all those involved in outdoor pursuits: early opening, late evenings, ample outside space (not only to park up your bike but also to enjoy your meal), free wi-fi, top up service, an extensive menu of homemade food and a 'West Coast' California feel that would be difficult to emulate anywhere else in the town. 

4. Is your Mountain Bikers’ Bagel & Coffee Combo popular?
Our 'Bacon & Cream Cheese Bagel and Coffee' combo is a real hit with our cyclists. However, our home baked scones (Crunchie, Walnut, Pear, Mint Aero Cranberry etc...), lemon tarts with cream, filled baked potatoes and anything sugary are also all very popular!

Urban Coffee

5. Are you a fan of two wheels yourself?
Taking time out to cycle is something valued in my family and also a pastime and form of exercise I enjoy with friends. Niall is an avid cyclist and I try to get out as often as I can, though running a Cafe that is open 7 days a week often demands a large portion of my time! We do, however, free up time regularly to ensure that we avail of the fantastic facility that we have on our doorstep. Indeed, going up the park (whether it be on the trails or the bumps) is an instrumental part of my kid's summer. There truly is something for all ages and all abilities and we are lucky to live and work close proximity to such an up and coming hub of activity. 

Castlewellan Trails

6. What do you recommend before and after a blast around the Castlewellan Trails?
Our most popular pre-ride choices would have to be the trusty Rocky Road, Carrot Cake or Caramel Square with one of our expertly prepared flat whites. Post-ride and stop offs for those who cycle on the road would have to be our 'Fry Inside a Bagel' or 'Bacon & Brie' Gourmet sandwich with rocket leaves, caramelized onion chutney and jalapenos.

Urban Coffee

Our cyclists have also been among the first to try to the new Japanese method of brewing coffee, using the Hario Drip Filter (a beverage we offer in-store)-which is clearly indicative of their adventurous inclinations! Our Milkshakes made with Morelli's ice-cream are also great for a much needed sugar rush. Whether it be something sinfully sugary or wholesome and satisfying - our cyclists always seem pleased with their choice!

Urban Coffee is located on 74 Main Street in Castlewellan, beyond Lower Square and across the road from Zebedees Take-Away. Open from 08:30 – 17:00, 7 days a week, Urban Coffee offers a range of healthy food options and great coffee in a relaxing environment. Visit www.mountainbikeni.com/food-and-drink/11/urban-coffee for more information.

Chris Armstrong
Chris Armstrong  Mountain Bike Officer

Chris looks after all things mountain biking in Northern Ireland ...it's a tough job but someone's gotta do it!

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