Coffee Angel HQ

Detail from a box of Coffee Angel coffee, a Kainamui AA from Kenyan.Coffee Angel is a well-established chain of Dublin speciality coffee shops that started with a coffee cart on Howth’s East Pier and now consists of two carts/kiosks and four shops. I failed to visit Coffee Angel on my first trip to Dublin in 2014, so on my return last month for the World of Coffee, I was determined to pop in. In true Coffee Spot fashion, having never visited any branch of Coffee Angel before, I decided to start with Coffee Angel HQ, which stands in the heart of Dublin on Trinity Street, and which had opened a mere three days before my visit…

Coffee Angel HQ is unusual in that it’s standing room only, its relatively spacious downstairs uncluttered by tables and chairs. Please don’t let that put you off though, since the coffee, all roasted by Belfast’s Bailies Coffee Roasters, is excellent and served in proper cups (while you can’t sit down, you can stand at one of several broad counters to drink it). There’s the seasonal house espresso-blend, Fórsa Gála, plus decaf and a pair of single-origins which can be had as either espresso or pour-over. There’s also tea, hot chocolate and a selection of cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • The very latest Coffee Angel, Coffee Angel HQ, on Dublin's Trinity Street.
  • And the view from the other side. No head on view: someone parked a van in front of it!
  • Let's go in, shall we?
  • A panoramic view from just inside the door: it's standing room only in here!
  • The view across the central island to the counter on the far side. Lots of mirrors in here!
  • The view looking back the other way. You can stand over there with your coffee...
  • ... but the only seating is provided by the two benches outside!
  • Back inside, and the far end, which is a weird shape to start with, houses the cake...
  • ... beyond which is an interesting archway that leads to some stairs. Shall we?
  • However, before we get to the stairs, there's this door through the arch and on the right...
  • ... which leads to this, the magnificent retail room at the back of Coffee Angel.
  • If you want to buy before you try, the staff with demo any of the brew methods for you.
  • Just select your weapon(s) of choice from those displayed on the shelves.
  • There's also an amazing fireplace back here. It's such a beautiful building!
  • Right. Let's go upstairs shall we? Normally this is off-limits, but I got a tour.
  • The first floor has the boardroom (hence Coffee Angel HQ) which can be hired for meetings.
  • Opposite this, at the front of the building, is this amazing function room.
  • This too has a lovely fireplace...
  • ... and some absolutely stunning windows. I think I'm in love!
  • Finally, the second floor holds this training room. For now, it's internal use only, but...
  • ... Coffee Angel might start running public courses. Again, such amazing windows!
  • Right, time to go back downstairs and get some coffee.
  • But before we do, it's worth casting an eye over the cakes.
  • There's quite a selection to choose from...
  • ... all of which look pretty amazing.
  • The counter takes up the left-hand side, the espresso machine front and centre.
  • The grinders for the single-origin espresso and decaf are at the back, along with the filter.
  • Is that one EK-43 or two? One actually. And a mirror. Plus some Marco SP9 brewers.
  • The concise Coffee Angel menu, showing the choice of beans and drink options.
  • All the beans currently on offer are boxed up for sale as well.
  • It's easier to see in this arrangement: house-blend + decaf (top), single-origins (bottom)
  • I had a split shot of the Kainamui, a Kenyan single-origin.
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All of the Coffee Angels have three letters following their names, giving an indication of their location (for example, Coffee Angel SAS is on South Anne Street). All the branches, that is, with the exception of Coffee Angel HQ, where the HQ (not to be confused with Coffee Angel CHQ on Custom House Quay) stands for Headquarters for reasons which will soon become clear.

Occupying a beautiful (and listed) building on Dublin’s Trinity Street, the store front is effectively a single window between two ornate sandstone pillars, with the door, flanked by another pillar, to the right. If I ran a Coffee Spot Award for “Best Windows”, Coffee Angel HQ would be an instant contender.

Having described Coffee Angel HQ as standing-room only, the pedant in me is obliged to note that a pair of benches sit in front of the window on the pavement outside. However, step inside and you won’t find a single seat, just a beautifully-appointed interior with the counter occupying the entire left-hand wall. To your right is broad-topped counter, where you can stand to drink your coffee, while at the back, another counter-top displays the generous selection of cake. An island counter stands in the centre, housing the takeaway cup lids and a water tap amongst other things.

In the far corner, diametrically opposite the door, an open archway leads to a flight of stairs, which sweeps tantalising upwards. Meanwhile, tucked away out of sight to the right is the doorway to Coffee Angel’s retail room, which is set up a like a brew bar, another broad counter at the back. The walls, meanwhile, hold all sorts of coffee brewing kit. If, for example, you want to buy a pour-over filter, but can’t choose between V60 or Kalita Wave, rather than just talking about their relative merits, the staff can use the back room to demonstrate them to you, or let you have a play. Now that’s customer service!

Sadly the two upper floors, accessible via the stairs, are staff-only, but the lovely Gábor gave me a behind-the-scenes tour. The first floor holds the boardroom (hence HQ) which, when not being used for internal meetings, can be hired out. Also for hire, at the front of the building, is the sumptuously-appointed function room, where I had the most serious case of window envy. Finally, the top floor holds the training room, currently for internal use only. However, should Coffee Angel ever decide to run public training courses, then book yourself in for one, if only to get a look at the room…

Back downstairs, it was coffee time. Coffee Angel’s the first place I’ve seen with functional Marco Beverage Systems SP9 brewers. Although tempted, I was won over by one of the single-origins, a washed Kenyan Kainamui. This was the same bean I’d had a few hours earlier as a filter at Roasted Brown, only roasted for espresso. At Gábor’s recommendation I had it as a tasting flight of espresso/cappuccino.

The espresso was lovely, fruity and bright, but very well balanced, lacking that punched-in-the-mouth feeling that, for me at least, sometimes mars Kenyan espressos. In milk, it also excelled, the sweetness of the milk taming the coffee a bit, but without clashing with it, resulting in a very smooth drink. All-in-all, an excellent, all-round coffee.

3 TRINITY STREET • DUBLIN • IRELAND
http://coffeeangel.com +353 1 906 0003
Monday 07:30 – 16:00 Roaster Bailies Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 16:00 Seating Bench outside, standing room inside
Wednesday 07:30 – 16:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 16:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:30 – 16:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday CLOSED Wifi Free
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain Local Visits 24th June 2016

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