Shoe Lane Coffee, Tara Street

A lovely single-origin Brazilian espresso from Full Circle Roasters, served in a glass at Shoe Lane Coffee, Dublin.A relative newcomer in Dublin’s rich and growing speciality coffee scene, Shoe Lane Coffee only opened in 2016, joined in 2018 by a second branch just down the coast at Dun Laoghaire. On Tara Street, once home to Dublin’s cobblers when it was known as Shoe Lane (hence the name), the coffee shop’s right in the heart of the city, a block from the River Liffey’s southern bank and across the street from Tara Street Station.

The shop is lovely, spread out over two floors. The spacious downstairs has the counter at the back, home (since September) of Dublin’s only La Marzocco KB90 (a source of much envy amongst Dublin’s barista community, several of whom recommended Shoe Lane Coffee to me). Meanwhile, via a switch-back staircase at the back, the upper floor is dominated by a large, communal table with a window-bar overlooking the street below.

Shoe Lane Coffee only serves single-origins from the local Full Circle Roasters. There’s a single option on espresso, two on pour-over and one more on batch-brew, all changing on a seasonal basis and all available to buy in retail bags. If you’re hungry, there’s a decent selection of cakes and savouries to choose from.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Tara Street, in the heart of Dublin, stands an interesting row of buildings, the last...
  • ... remnants of the city's cobblers, but now home to Shoe Lane Coffee.
  • The view from Shoe Lane Coffee is, by the way, not quite as inspiring at the moment!
  • The door handily has the opening times. Let's go in, shall we?
  • Inside, Shoe Lane Coffee is decked out in wood & dark colours.
  • There's a three-person window-bar to the right of the door...
  • ... which you can see a little more clearly here.
  • To the right are three, narrow, wooden tables with benches for seating...
  • ... while to the left is this wooden bench seat under the retail shelves.
  • The bench in more detail.
  • The counter, meanwhile, is at the back.
  • There's more to the right/behind the counter. The mirrored door leads to the kitchen...
  • ... while in the right-hand corner, a staircase leads upwards. After a small landing at...
  • ... the back, it doubles back on itself to carry on to the upstairs sitting room.
  • The view from the door, where the room spreads out ahead of you...
  • ... and to the right.
  • There's a narrow, six-person bar along the left-hand wall...
  • .. and a three-person window-bar at the front.
  • The remaining seating is provided by this magnificent eight-person communal table.
  • A view back across the communal table to the top of the stairs in the corner.
  • Although it looks quite bright upstairs, this is closer to the ambient light while I was there.
  • However, the sense of light (and space) was helped by copious numbers of mirrors...
  • ... including the previous one on the back wall, this one on the left-hand wall...
  • ... and these two (with handy messages) below it.
  • Also, before we go back downstairs, checkout the decoration on the other wall...
  • ... including this shelf of knickknacks (and another mirror) ...
  • ... and the interesting pattern on the wall underneath.
  • I found this on the front wall by the window...
  • ... while, finally, the flowers on the table were a nice touch.
  • Let's go back downstairs, shall we?
  • This interesting carving hangs on the wall of the landing, where you'll also find the...
  • ... toilet, decorated with pages from the Beano!
  • Obligatory light-fitting shot!
  • In case we forget where we are!
  • Carrying on downstairs, we find...
  • ... more interesting decoration. This is under the window-bar in the front, a display...
  • ... of old Singer sewing machines used by cobblers, plus some lasts (used in shoe-making).
  • More lasts, this time in the front of the counter at the back, a nod to Shoe Lane's history.
  • There's also a map on the right-hand wall, showing where the coffee is from.
  • Talking of which, there are bags of coffee for sale on the retail shelves opposite.
  • All the single-origins available on the menu can be bought...
  • ... along with several others...
  • ... including decaf, next to the reusable cups from Frank Green.
  • Meanwhile, there's coffee-making kit on the top shelves...
  • ... and tea, ironically in front of the espresso machine.
  • Talking of which, you order from the counter at the back, where the till is on the left...
  • ... along with the cakes and pastries (sadly depleted just before closing time).
  • To the left of the counter is a display case stocked with grab-and-go items...
  • ... while the espresso machine, Dublin's only La Marzocco KB90, is on the right...
  • ... with the menu on a mirror on the right-hand wall.
  • Details of the current Brazilian single-origin espresso...
  • ... which I had as a straight espresso...
  • ... served in a glass cup on a glass saucer, seen here from above.
  • I'll leave you with the excellent almond croissant that I paired it with.
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Tara Street, is, if I’m honest, not one of Dublin’s most attractive. Three lanes of traffic, all heading north towards the Butt Bridge across the Liffey, don’t provide the greatest of backdrops, nor does the building site on the eastern side do justice to the small row of two-storey brick buildings on the western side, once home to Dublin’s thriving cobblers. Fortunately, Shoe Lane Coffee more than makes up for this lack of external beauty with a gorgeous interior, decked out in dark woods and subdued colours.

The first hint is the lovely exterior, a single window to the right, strewn with exposed light bulbs, while to the left, the open, glass door invites you in, although there’s a long bench in front of the window if you want to sit outside.

Downstairs has a simple, uncluttered layout. There’s a three-person window-bar, suspended by chains, to the right of the door, and a more ornate, wooden bench-seat against the left-hand wall, underneath the long rows of retail shelves. The bulk of what seating there is downstairs is on the right, underneath a map of the world, showing where the coffee is from. Here you’ll find three narrow, fixed two-person tables extending from the wall, wooden benches on either side.

The counter, which, naturally enough, is also made of wood, is at the back The till is on the left, where you order, while the aforementioned La Marzocco KB90 espresso machine on the right, where you collect your coffee, Shoe Lane sadly only offering counter service. There’s a chiller cabinet in front of the counter against the left-hand wall, stacked with grab-and-go items such as sandwiches, salads and granola pots, while on the counter itself you’ll find a selection of cakes and pastries. The drinks menu, meanwhile, is written on a mirror on the wall to the right.

Beyond this, in the right-hand corner, a narrow door leads to a flight of steps which head up to a small landing before doubling back on themselves to deposit you at the back of the equally gorgeous upstairs. There’s a large, eight-person communal table slightly offset to the right, with a narrow six-person bar running along the left-hand wall (as you face the front). Finally, there’s a four-person window-bar at the front, underneath the solitary, square window in the front wall overlooking Tara Street. Again, the décor is wood and dark colours, which, coupled with the solitary window, make it quite atmospheric upstairs, somewhat offset by the numerous exposed light-bulbs and multiple mirrors.

The coffee, all single-origin, is roasted by Dublin’s Full Circle Roasters. During my visit, there was a Brazilian on espresso, with Honduran and Ethiopian options on pour-over through the V60 and a Colombian on batch-brew. There’s also decaf if you need it. The menu, by the way, is a model of conciseness, with two options (black/white) and two sizes (4oz/8oz) on espresso. The filter options are listed below, with the batch-brew at the bottom.

I went for the espresso, being rewarded with a lovely, well-balanced, sweet shot of the Brazilian single-origin served in a glass, presented on a glass saucer. I paired this with a very fine almond croissant, which had a subtle almond flavour and some excellent, flaky pastry. This was also nicely presented on a small, wooden tray.

7 TARA STREET • DUBLIN 2 • D02 Y662 • IRELAND +353 (0) 1 677 9471
Monday 06:30 – 18:30 Roaster Full Circle (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 06:30 – 18:30 Seating Tables, Window-bars; Bench (outside)
Wednesday 06:30 – 18:30 Food Cake, Sandwiches
Thursday 06:30 – 18:30 Service Counter
Friday 06:30 – 18:30 Payment Cash + Cards
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 12th October 2019

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