As part of my current trip to Ireland, I spent yesterday in Cork, exploring its excellent coffee scene. Of course, a day was wholly inadequate for the task, with local expert, Caroline O’Keeffe, giving me a list of ten places to try! I managed a paltry three, starting with breakfast at Dukes Coffee Company. There are two branches of Dukes, the original city-centre location on Carey’s Lane (where I ended up), and a second east of the centre in City Gate.
Dukes serves coffee exclusively from Irish roasters, with a bespoke, seasonal house-blend, Three Lands from Bewley’s. This is joined by guest single-origins on espresso and batch brew. The current single-origin espresso is the San Cayetano from El Salvador, roasted by Dublin’s 3FE, while the batch brew is a naturally-processed Ethiopian, roasted by Stone Valley Roasters from Clonakilty in County Cork. However, don’t wait too long to try them, since they change every two weeks or so, with the next espresso, from nearby Badger & Dodo in Fermoy, lined up and ready to go!
All this is backed up by a selection of sandwiches and cakes, plus excellent breakfast and lunch menus, served until one o’clock (two o’clock at weekends).
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Dukes Coffee Company is in the centre of Cork, on the island between the two branches of the River Lee. It’s located on the eastern side of the narrow, pedestrianised Carey’s Lane, which runs behind Saints Peter and Paul’s Church, connecting the famous English Market to the south with the more modern Paul Street Shopping Centre to the north.
Dukes is spread over the lower two floors of an old, brick-faced, four-storey stone building, its bustling downstairs, complete with counter and open kitchen, contrasting with the more relaxed upstairs (known, fairly accurately, as the lounge). You can also sit outside on the pavement, where there’s a set of four two-person tables on either side of the central door, flanked by two large windows
Downstairs has the look and feel of an old, traditional café, a million miles from the stereotypical third-wave coffee shop. The counter is on the right, with the till, where you order, at the far end, menus on the wall behind. The seating, meanwhile, is on the left, with an eight-person communal table in the window and two rows of tables opposite the counter. The first of these, consisting of three two-person tables, runs under a massive mirror on the left-hand wall, while the second, consisting of four two-person tables, runs down the middle. At the back, there’s a three-person table tucked away in the right-hand corner, while to the left, steps lead up across the back wall before turning by 90° to deposit you in the back left-hand corner of the lounge.
The contrast between upstairs and downstairs couldn’t be starker. The lounge is much more relaxed, with more of a third-wave feel to it, walls hung with the occasional coffee sack. The front wall is punctured by three narrow, tall windows, two with two-person tables in front of them, while the third, on the left, overlooks a two-person sofa which faces into the room. Another, longer, four-person sofa is in the middle of the room, facing the left-hand wall across a pair of long coffee tables.
Four more tables are scattered about: a four-person one sits to the right of the top of the stairs, while there’s another by the left-hand wall, between the stairs and sofa by the window. Meanwhile, a two-person table is tucked away in a corner opposite the stairs, between the doors to the storeroom and toilets. Finally, a three-person table is tucked in against the back of the four-person sofa. The seating is completed by a narrow, L-shaped bar against the right-hand wall, generously equipped with power outlets (the only ones upstairs).
I typically start my day (when out and about) with a flat white, but I was drawn to the natural Ethiopian on batch brew, particularly tempting since Stone Valley Roasters was a new name to me. My coffee was served in a conical flask, with a glass on the side. It was a smooth, delicate coffee with fruity undertones, lacking the punchy fruitiness I associate with most naturals (not that this is a bad thing). I paired this with the potato cakes, avocado and eggs, which came with a couple of slices of toast, the potato cake and two fried eggs putting an Irish twist on a third-wave staple. All-in-all, it was an excellent start to my day.
|4 CAREY’S LANE • CORK • IRELAND|
|http://www.dukes.ie||+353 (0) 21 490 5877|
|Monday||08:00 – 17:00||Roaster||Bewleys + Guests (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 17:00||Seating||Tables; Tables, Sofas, Bars (upstairs)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Sandwich, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 17:00||Service||Order at the Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||7th October 2019|
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