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.
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|
|http://www.shoelanecoffee.ie||+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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