Coffeeangel is a well-established chain of Dublin speciality coffee shops that started with a coffee cart on Howth’s East Pier and, at the time of my visit, consisted of two carts/kiosks and four shops, although since then the two carts have gone, while a fifth shop, Coffeangel IFSC has opened.
I failed to visit Coffeeangel on my first trip to Dublin in 2014, so on my return last month for the World of Coffee, I was determined to pop in. In true Coffee Spot fashion, having never visited any branch of Coffeeangel before, I decided to start with Coffeeangel HQ, which stands in the heart of Dublin on Trinity Street, and which had opened a mere three days before my visit…
Coffeeangel HQ is unusual in that it’s standing room only, its relatively spacious downstairs uncluttered by tables and chairs. Please don’t let that put you off though, since the coffee, all roasted by Belfast’s Bailies Coffee Roasters, is excellent and served in proper cups (while you can’t sit down, you can stand at one of several broad counters to drink it). There’s the seasonal house espresso-blend, Fórsa Gála, plus decaf and a pair of single-origins which can be had as either espresso or pour-over. There’s also tea, hot chocolate and a selection of cake.
I can’t believe it’s only been two weeks since I was in Dublin, attending the World of Coffee Event. As I pointed out in my round-up last week, I’d never been to World of Coffee before, so I didn’t know what to expect. As it turned out, I really liked it. A cross between the London Coffee Festival and Caffè Culture, it incorporated the best of both events and, as is always the case, there was far too much to for me to see, even though I was there on all three days.
I spent a lot of my time at The Village, catching up with various European roasters, which I’ll cover in detail next week. The rest of the time, when I wasn’t bumping into people I knew, I had a look at some of the kit on offer, which is what I’ll talk about this week.
The automatic filter coffee crowd was out in force, but having spent a lot of time with them at the London Coffee Festival, I gave them a miss this time around. Instead, I caught up with a couple of espresso machine manufacturers and a manual method that was new to me.
This time last week, I was at the final day of three at the World of Coffee Event in Dublin. I’d never been to World of Coffee before, although I’d toyed with going in previous years. In 2014 it was in Rimini and last year, Gothenburg was the host. In both cases, they fell in the middle of busy summers: last year, for example, I was in Portland on the final leg of my coast-to-coast trans-USA trip. This year, it at least fell on dates that I could attend.
With my new, flexible job (I don’t need to been in an office on a day-to-day basis) going was a distinct possibility, so I took the World of Coffee being (practically) on my doorstep as a sign. I booked my ticket, my Ryan Air flight, and an Airbnb (I managed to find one 10 minutes’ walk from the venue) and off I went.
Although I was there for all three days, for various reasons, including work commitments, and a desire to see something of Dublin’s coffee scene, I only managed three half-days at World of Coffee itself. However, that was enough to get a feel for what was going on.
Roasted Brown is a relatively established player in Dublin’s speciality coffee scene, roasting its own coffee and serving it from a bright, spacious spot on the first floor of the Filmbase building in the heart of Dublin. It’s fairly easy to find once you know it’s there, although, being on the first floor, there’s no street-level presence other than the name on the door.
The space itself is amazing, effectively a light well in the centre of the building, reaching all the way to the top of the third floor, where a glass ceiling thankfully keeps the rain off. There’s plenty of seating, although Roasted Brown has sensibly not tried to pack too much in, retaining the sense of space afforded by the high ceiling and aided by one of the walls being almost entirely glass!
Roasted Brown only roasts single-origins, with one option on espresso and three on filter. These are changed every week or so and are all available through the Kalita Wave filter. There are also cold coffee options. This backed up with an interesting selection of sandwiches and cakes, while if you fancy something else, there’s loose leaf tea or, for the sweet(ish) tooth, hot chocolate.
December 2016: Roasted Brown left the Filmbase Building to concentrate on roasting, where it’s still going strong (I briefly called into the roastery in Delgany on my return to Ireland in 2019). The cafe carried on, taken over by First Draft Coffee & Wine, which subsequently moved to Lennox Road in Portobello, south of the centre, when the Filmbase Building closed in 2018.
My (far too short) weekend in Dublin accidentally turned into a very 3FE-dominated affair. As well as 3FE itself, my second stop, Brother Hubbard, uses 3FE and so, as it turns out, does my third stop, Vice Coffee Inc. Or at least it did when I was there: Vice regularly rotates its roasters and, during my visit, 3FE was sharing the grinders with London’s Square Mile.
Vice is a coffee bar situated inside The Twisted Pepper on Middle Abbey Street, just north of the river. Don’t be put off by the exterior, where it looks as if Vice is no more than a small collection of wooden tables in the lobby, served by a La Marzocco espresso machine. I actually walked past once because the La Marzocco was clearly not in use, but the second time I ventured inside and discovered that Vice has actually installed itself in the bar at the back.
Vice serves both espresso, from a Nuova Simonelli behind the counter, and filter coffee through Aeropress or V60 from a little filter station at the opposite end of the counter. There’s also tea from Cardiff’s Waterloo Tea. And cake, of course. And toasted sandwiches.
Brother Hubbard, on Capel Street, just north of the River Liffey, was on my list even before I set off for Dublin. However, when 3FE recommended it as “the place to go for food as well as coffee”, that settled the question of where to meet my friend Sarah for Sunday morning brunch.
Brother Hubbard is as much about the food as it is about the coffee, if not more so (although Brother Hubbard may disagree). Serving breakfast and lunch on weekdays, and brunch at the weekends, it’s a cosy, friendly, welcoming place, the ideal spot to start my Sunday morning. The food is inventive, with a Middle-eastern twist, and the menu changes on a seasonal basis. The coffee menu (all espresso-based) is refreshingly simple. It dispenses with descriptions of beans, sizes and types of drink, merely stating that the coffee’s served “as you like it”.
Brother Hubbard has recently expanded into the shop next door, which has been christened “Little Brother”. I only managed to stick my nose in through the dividing doorway, but I get the impression that it’s more the coffee-shop side of the business and clearly one for my next visit to Dublin.
October 2019: I finally made it back to Brother Hubbard, now Brother Hubbard North, which is a vastly expanded operation, which stays open in the evenings five days a week for dinner.
One could argue that no trip to Dublin is complete without a visit to the iconic Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street, which first opened its doors in 1927. It’s one of those names that is associated with the great cafés of the past (such as Café de Flore), and certainly one I had heard of long before my Coffee Spot days. With its gorgeous façade, sumptuous interior, lovely artwork and full table service, it’s definitely an experience. As regular readers will know, it’s exactly the sort of experience that I like (for example, another Parisian favourite, Angelina, springs to mind).
It helps that the coffee’s not too bad either. All roasted on the premises, Bewley’s offers a standard espresso-based menu, along with the option of a cafetiere for one or two, plus tea, hot chocolate and soft drinks. There’s a very tempting (and large) range of cakes and pastries, plus full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. There’s also a range of wine, cocktails, beer and cider.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s an intimate little theatre on the top floor, which puts on one-act plays at lunchtime (complete with optional light lunch) and cabaret, jazz and comedy in the evenings.
3FE, short for Third Floor Espresso, is, disappointingly, on the ground floor of its building on Dublin’s Grand Canal Street. However, that’s pretty much the only disappointing thing about it. 3FE was the one place that everyone said I should visit in Dublin, its fame having spread even to Philadelphia, where barista Willa, who works in Menagerie Coffee/Elixr, recommended it!
3FE is both roaster and coffee shop, the roastery being down by the ferry terminal. 3FE roasts for its own use, as well as supplying other shops in Dublin and beyond. Like many small-batch roasters, 3FE regularly rotates what it’s roasting and serves whatever it has roasted/in stock at the moment. In an innovative move, 3FE only serves single-origin beans, offering a choice of three, which can be had as espresso or filter.
This makes for a refreshing coffee menu, since it only lists the beans, not the brew methods, thus shifting the focus back onto what’s important, the coffee itself. That’s not to say 3FE isn’t as obsessed as the next coffee geek about brew methods, with a new Mahlkönig EK-43 grinder and one of the first Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machines, installed the day before my visit!