Three Fools Coffee on Cork’s Grand Parade was the second of my three stops on Monday’s whirlwind speciality coffee tour. As with my other two stops (Dukes and Filter), it was a recommendation from local expert, Caroline O’Keeffe.
Over the years, I’ve described quite a few places as coffee cubes, starting with Manchester’s original espresso cube (aka the sadly missed Forté Espresso Bar). In concept, Three Fools is the closest to an actual cube, despite not being cube-shaped (it needs to be twice as high and maybe 50% wider). However, it feels like a cube, with its timber-framed windows on three sides and a slightly incongruous concrete floor and ceiling.
At first sight, you might think that Three Fools would be a takeaway joint, or a mainstream coffee bar (Cork has plenty of these, by the way). Stepping inside dispels those notions instantly: this is a no-holds-barred, full-service third-wave coffee shop. There are two single-origins on espresso, roasted in-house, with a house or guest single-origin on filter, with a choice of batch brew, cafetiere (for one or two), V60 or Chemex (for two). If you’re hungry, there’s a choice of three sandwiches and three toasties, plus a selection of cake.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Cork’s Grand Parade is one of the city’s ancient thoroughfares, running north-south between Daunt Square and the southern branch of the River Lee. Once a waterway, it was paved over in the 18th century. These days, a road runs down the eastern side, while the western side is a broad pavement.
Three Fools Coffee occupies a standalone structure, the aforementioned not-cube, on the western side of the street, opposite Cork’s Central Library. The front is all glass, with a large, central glass door. The windows extend most of the way down the left-hand side and about halfway down the right, at which point the counter takes over, occupying the back right-hand corner. Finally, a small concrete storeroom runs the full width at the back.
Three Fools has a surprising amount of seating, starting with an L-shaped, five-person window-bar running from the right of the door and down the right-hand side to the counter. Meanwhile, six two-person tables line a long, wooden bench in the windows along the left-hand side. Alternatively, you can sit outside on the broad pavement of the Grand Parade. There are three two-person tables against the windows down the left-hand side, with two more tables in a row next to them.
Three Fools opened in November 2015, at which point the not-cube was a rather unappealing concrete and glass shell. Three Fools has used wood to great effect to transform it into a warm, welcoming interior, including framing the windows, cladding the back wall and building all the furniture and counter from wood. For example, the tables which line with the wooden bench along the left-hand side are made from of old sowing machine stands, with lovely, wooden tops.
The wood-clad back wall contains multiple retail shelves carrying bags of Three Fools Coffee. These surround the sandwich menu, listing the choice of three sandwiches and three toasties, one of which is a vegetarian option in each case. There are more retail bags on the counter, which is a simple, L-shaped affair on the right-hand side.
The bottom part of the L, which faces the front, is where you collect your takeaway coffee. It also offers an excellent view of the Aviator espresso machine which is against the wall on the right-hand side. The main part of the counter is down the side (the long part of the L), starting with the cakes and pastries, followed by the till, where you order. With that out of the way, take a seat: your coffee will be brought to you, while you can pay when you leave.
Three Fools offers a small number of single-origins at any one time, including a decaf, all roasted in-house, with Three Fools selecting the green beans. Unusually, however, the roasting takes place in Lisbon in Portugal, although Three Fools retains full control over the process.
At any one time, two of the single-origins are available on espresso, with a third on filter, which is sometimes from a guest roaster. These change every week or two, depending on the size of each batch and how popular they prove. During my visit, all the coffee was from Three Fools, with a Matagalpa from Nicaragua and a Kenyan Limo AA on espresso, plus an Ethiopian Kochere Boji on filter.
I decided to have the Matagalpa as an espresso, a lovely, smooth, sweet espresso with a pleasant acidity to it. I paired this with a cashew butter oatie, which combines a thick, oat base (think flapjack) with a creamy peanut butter flavoured topping. This was as excellent as it sounds and the perfect foil for my espresso.
|GRAND PARADE • CORK • IRELAND|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||Three Fools (espresso) + Three Fools & Guests (filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Window-bar; Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||09:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||11:00 – 18:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||7th October 2019|
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