Words by Shauna Ryan
November 2nd, 2015
Insomnia, Costa, and Starbucks infiltrate the streets of Dublin, but what about a cuppa with a bit more personality? You know exactly what you’re going to get in these chains, whether you are in Galway, London, or Seattle, which is perfectly fine, especially if you are a creature of habit and not looking for a coffee that might be too bitter or too watery, but what about a having a coffee that you can enjoy with a bit of an experience?
There has been a lot of buzz about coffee around town recently. Cafés that are focusing more on coffee quality are popping up everywhere featuring champion baristas with international accolades; consumers are looking for specific beans and roasters, and they are treating coffee in as high a regard as a fine glass of wine: describing its notes, tones, and tasting its terroir. The birth of coffee snobbery is truly among us. Coffee is subjective and most people know what they like (although some people might not necessarily know what that it is until they have tried something bad). So, I decided to go to all the most talked-about new coffee establishments and find out what coffee is really worth their weight in bean. I opted for a black Americano at each to keep it consistent – but I realised that although each of the cafés had a high quality of bean choice and roasting technique, each of them offered a different experience for the consumer. Whether you like your coffee dark roasted, bitter, acidic, well-rounded, easy to drink, steaming hot, extra-large, in a mug or to-go, these places will offer you something more than just a good cup of Joe.
Best Place to Buy Coffee
Fallon & Byrne
Falllon & Byrne is an iconic shopping spot in the heart of Dublin. Located on Exchequer Street, the old warehouse has a wine bar downstairs, a food hall on the ground floor and a restaurant upstairs. One could spend hours meandering through the aisles of the food hall looking at all the overflowing precisely-chosen Epicurean goods from around the world. The staff will even grind the bag of beans on site to your liking. On these shelves a large variety of coffee beans and accessories are for sale, including their own house blend. Behind these shelves you will inevitably smell the aroma of freshly made coffees wafting from behind the counter which are available to go or to be sipped on the nearby high stools. The selection and scale of the variety in store and its generous opening hours means it will cater for your early rises and late nights in the heart of the city.
Best Place to Meet a Friend
The Fumbally Café seems to attract an eclectic bunch of people from hipsters to self-declared foodies, from ladies who lunch to hungry office employees, but what they all have in common is that they know what is good. The menu changes daily with fresh seasonal food made to order and whether you’re in there for breakfast or lunch, the coffee is always acceptably paired. For €2.50, the medium roast coffee is a bite-full of flavours with toffee and molasses undertones. They encourage communal tables so you’ll always find a place to share a table with a friend, or perhaps even encourage you to make a new friend.
Best Place for a Break from Shopping
Located on South Anne Street closer to Dawson Street than Grafton Street, Coffeeangel is a quiet stop in between the busy streets. There are wooden tables to take a break and an entire wall selling intriguing brewing paraphernalia like grinders and ceramic drippers. The coffee comes in two sizes and for €2.20 I got a small pleasant cup of coffee with a slight bitterness, reminiscent of a rich piece of dark chocolate. I could tell it was a well-made coffee from the swirled caramel crema, or foam that lingered on top. Coffeeangel offers the perfect escape from the bustle of the adjoining streets and knowing that it produces fine coffee, the excuse to meander into the convenient chains should now be removed.
Best Takeaway Coffee
Green Bench Café
There’s always a lengthy line coming out of the tiny cafe on Montauk Street. If it wasn’t for the line, you could almost walk on by and miss one of the city’s favourite lunch-time spots. Busy for a reason, the food is always fresh and made to order. Regardless of how persistent the rush is, they are more than happy to make you a coffee in between taking the money and handing out lunches to the guests. For €2, the Fairtrade coffee comes in a small take away cup (everything is for take away) and is well rounded and balanced. It’s definitely worth the queue.
Best Hidden Gem
Located up the stairs at the Filmbase in Temple Bar, Roasted Brown is easily missed, but if you are a coffee lover, it is not one to overlook. Once you walk in, you instantly get a feel that these people know what they’re doing and they do it well and with passion. If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat, take advantage of escaping from Temple Bar and enjoy the view from inside out. The tall windows and glass ceiling trap in the warm air and the sweet smell of roasted coffee surrounds you. For €2.50, a long black comes with a serious bite, a jolt of intense flavour that will instantly wake you up and simultaneously thaw any dampness out of a balmy Irish day. Come here to dodge the crowds and come here for a cup to remember.
Best Place to People Watch
Clement & Pekoe
South William Street is easily one of the city’s favourites to walk down. It is lined with shops, restaurants, bars, and most importantly, the best place to people watch. Try to score a seat at Clement & Pekoe, either inside on the high stools at the window or on the bench outside with a warm cup of coffee. It always seems busy, and for good reason. The baristas are friendly with quick Irish wit and the coffee is flavourful and done right. And if you don’t get one of the seats to watch the world go by on the street outside, there is a surprising amount of room in the back that invites you to bring a book or do some work on a laptop. A definite city centre drop-in.
Best Worthwhile Jaunt out of City Centre
Award winning 3fe is unquestionably a favourite in Dublin amongst coffee drinkers. You can find their coffee in 16 other cafés in the city, but it is worthwhile to head out to Lower Canal Street in Dublin 2 to visit their flagship location. The insides are quite bare, almost warehouse-like, but it’s clear very quickly that the focus is on the coffee. For €3, it was the most expensive cup of coffee I had found in the city, but I do think well deserved. Full of well-balanced flavours, it wasn’t as overwhelming as I expected. After all the coffees I sampled that day, I was surprised that I finished the 3fe cup – it was that good!
The Best Place to Find Out What’s Going On in Dublin
Newly established in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Dublin’s Drury Street, Kaph seems to be getting a lot of attention and for good reason. The downstairs is quite tiny but if you’re looking to stay for a big mug of coffee, there are extra seats upstairs. The staff are friendly and helpful, and there are loads of magazines and newspapers, fliers and postcards, and locals to find out what’s going on in Dublin. Kaph invites you to come in, stay a while, enjoy a cup of coffee but then get out there, spread the word, and enjoy all of what Dublin has to offer.
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