First Draft Coffee & Wine

A lovely flat white in a class white cup on a black saucer, made with an El Mirador single-origin from Guatemala, roasted by Roasted Brown and served at First Draft Coffee & Wine in Dublin.A quiet, residential street in Portobello, south Dublin, is not, at first sight, where you’d expect to find one of Dublin’s top coffee shops. It’s certainly not somewhere I would have found without the tip-off I received from Roasted Brown, whose roastery I (briefly) visited at the start of my current trip to Ireland.

First Draft Coffee & Wine is a fairly small spot, although it’s got as much seating inside as yesterday’s Coffee Spot, 3FE Sussex Terrace, in about a quarter of the space. It pretty much does what it says on the tin, serving coffee in the mornings through to the early evenings (seven or eight o’clock), with a magnificent selection of wine from noon onwards, and a small evening menu after five. There’s also a very tempting selection of cakes and pastries, while you can buy both coffee beans and bottles of wine to take home with you.

October 2020: First Draft Coffee & Wine has closed, with the owner, Ger, moving on to open a cafe, This Is It, in Ennistymon.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • A quiet, residential street in Portobello, South Dublin. Not where you'd expect to find...
  • ... a top-notch coffee shop, but look! There's one!
  • It's First Draft Coffee & Wine.
  • The view from the other side. Check out the water bowls for our four-legged friends.
  • Stepping inside and it's as small as it looks. There's a five-person bar to the left...
  • ... and a three-person, L-shaped one in the window to the right.
  • A wider view of the front of First Draft...
  • ... and another view of the bar against the left-hand wall.
  • The only other seating is the continually-occupied six-person table on the right.
  • Finally, the counter is at the back, with a small kitchen beyond.
  • Although small, it's a busy space, with plants hanging from the ceilings and pictures...
  • ... on both walls.
  • Towards the back on the left is a pair of small coffee-related retail shelves...
  • ... while on the right is the other string to First Draft's bow, the extensive wine selection.
  • There's also some port.
  • To business: the till, where you order (and pay on leaving) is surorunded by cakes/pastries.
  • To left, meanwhile, is the coffee side of the operation.
  • Another view of the EK43 grinder and espresso machine beyond.
  • The menus are on the back wall, behind/above the counter.
  • To the right, the wine menu, with the evening dishes (served from 5pm) below...
  • ... while to the left is the coffee/tea menu, along with the pastries.
  • It was my first coffee of the day, so I went with a flat white, made with a seasonal...
  • ... single-origin from Roasted Brown. Check out the lovely latte art...
  • ... which the milk held all the way...
  • ... to the bottom of the cup, which is where I'll leave you.
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First Draft Coffee & Wine is on Lennox Street, which runs east-west a block north of Dublin’s Grand Canal. Its owner, the delightful Ger, is a veteran of Dublin’s speciality coffee scene, although First Draft only moved to its current location last year, having previously been in the Filmbase building in Temple Bar, in central Dublin. However, the owners wanted to redevelop the building (which currently stands empty), forcing Ger out.

The two locations are like chalk and cheese. Whereas Filmbase offered plenty of space, First Draft’s current home is tiny in comparison, but very welcoming. The front’s all glass, albeit consisting of about 35 small, rectangular panes, with another 30 in the double doors on the left. Inside, there’s an L-shaped three-person window-bar to the right, a long, five-person bar against the left-hand wall and a six-person communal table running front-to-back on the right, a low bench on either side. And that’s it, not counting the garden bench outside the window.

The counter is at the back, the till on the right, surrounded by cakes and pastries, while the espresso machine and its grinders are on the left. There’s a small retail selection on the left-hand wall, while the corresponding space to the right is occupied by a large selection of wine, which can be had by the bottle or the glass.

I’m not qualified to comment on the wine, except to point out the extremely wide selection on offer. The coffee, meanwhile, is from Roasted Brown. Other than stocking its coffee, there’s another link between the two, First Draft having taken over Roasted Brown’s coffee shop in the Filmbase building when Roasted Brown decided to concentrate on roasting.

The coffee is served from the simplest menu: espresso (black or white) or filter. The former uses a seasonal single-origin (El Mirador from Guatemala during my visit) while the latter is offered as a pour-over through the Bee House Dripper. You can choose any of the retail beans on offer, although Ger says that most of his customers just order filter and leave it at that.

I had an excellent flat white to start my Sunday morning, the coffee and milk going extremely well together, the milk holding the latte art all the way to the bottom of the cup. As much as I enjoyed my coffee, I loved chatting with Ger, who explained the difference between running a city centre coffee shop, where he had multiple options on espresso and filter, to being more embedded in a neighbourhood, where he’s had to adjust is offering to what his customers want. Judging by how busy First Draft was on the Sunday morning of my visit, he’s doing an excellent job!

December 2019: First Draft Coffee & Wine has won the 2019 Best Flat White Award.

Monday 08:00 – 20:00 Roaster Roasted Brown (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 20:00 Seating Table, Bar, Window Bar; Bench (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 20:00 Food Cakes, Dinner
Thursday 08:00 – 20:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 20:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 20:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 09:00 – 20:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 13th October 2019

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