3FE, short for Third Floor Espresso, is, disappointingly, on the ground floor of its building on Dublin’s Grand Canal Street. However, that’s pretty much the only disappointing thing about it. 3FE was the one place that everyone said I should visit in Dublin, its fame having spread even to Philadelphia, where barista Willa, who works in Menagerie Coffee/Elixr, recommended it!
3FE is both roaster and coffee shop, the roastery being down by the ferry terminal. 3FE roasts for its own use, as well as supplying other shops in Dublin and beyond. Like many small-batch roasters, 3FE regularly rotates what it’s roasting and serves whatever it has roasted/in stock at the moment. In an innovative move, 3FE only serves single-origin beans, offering a choice of three, which can be had as espresso or filter.
This makes for a refreshing coffee menu, since it only lists the beans, not the brew methods, thus shifting the focus back onto what’s important, the coffee itself. That’s not to say 3FE isn’t as obsessed as the next coffee geek about brew methods, with a new Mahlkönig EK-43 grinder and one of the first Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machines, installed the day before my visit!
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Occupying a corner plot, 3FE is wedged-shaped, the long side running along Grand Canal Street. The main door is here, two-thirds of the way up, while there’s another at the bottom of the shop (wide end of the wedge). The counter runs parallel to the street at the top, but takes a 30° turn to the left opposite the door, running parallel to the back wall the rest of the way. This makes more space available for seating in the bottom end of the shop, but, for me at least, it’s a rather disconcerting layout.
3FE has a rather plain interior with low ceiling, grey floor and whitewashed walls. Three large windows on the long wall provide plenty of light (or would have if it hadn’t been miserable and raining outside). However, plenty of lights inside held off the gloom.
As you come in, you’re met by the counter, till ahead of you, cake to your left. Here, it’s relatively uncluttered: just a pair of tables in the window behind you to your left and, on the wall beside the counter, shelves with beans and coffee-making equipment for sale.
Beyond the kink in the counter are the grinders, espresso machine and filter station. Here, where 3FE widens out, it feels quite crowded. A pair of tall, six-person wooden tables with high stools are squeezed between counter and windows, while there’s a row of four two-person tables in the windows and three more against the end wall. The tables are quite close together, so if you lean back, you can usually rest against the person sitting at the next table…
All the furniture, tables, stools and benches, is of the same design: scaffolding frames with wooden tops. Note that there are no chairs. There is a generous supply of power outlets throughout.
So, to the coffee. All three beans are available as filter (Aeropress, although Chemex is available if you ask) or espresso, with options such as the trio (same bean as espresso, espresso with milk and filter) and the filter tasting (two different beans as filter), as well as the more normal espresso tasting set (espresso, espresso with milk).
My friend Sarah had the last of the Bolivian Copacabana (immediately replaced on the menu by a Columbia La Pradera) while I had the Tanzanian Burka Block LL, both through the Aeropress. The third was a Columbian El Meridiano, which could also be had decaf.
Our coffee came beautifully presented in two small carafes on a wooden tray with small, handless white cups. Sarah’s was described as fruity, while mine had a “vanilla sweetness”. Of course, such nuanced flavours were lost on me (I could, at least, tell that they were different) but Sarah, who has a better palate, pronounced the Copacabana as the fruiter of the two, while mine was the brighter. However, they were both very fine cups of coffee.
I ended my visit with a long chat with the very friendly staff, Jack (who’d just started), Jamie, who gave me a quick tour, and baristas Susie and Frida. I had a sample of the La Pradera, a lovely, very rich, full-bodied coffee. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to fully sample the range of beans through espresso and Aeropress. That, I fear, will take several visits!
|32 GRAND CANAL STREET LOWER • DUBLIN 2 • IRELAND|
|www.3fe.com||+353 1 661 9329|
|Monday||08:30 – 17:30||Seating||Benches, Stools, Tables, Tables outside|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 17:30||Food||Sandwiches, Soup, Cake|
|Wednesday||08:30 – 17:30||Service||Order at Counter|
|Thursday||08:30 – 17:30||Cards||Visa, Mastercard|
|Friday||08:30 – 17:30||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Power||Yes|
|Sunday||09:00 – 18:00||Mobile||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||10th May 2014|
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