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.
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.
|34 LENNOX STREET • PORTOBELLO • DUBLIN • D08 N265 • IRELAND|
|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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