This time I’m a little closer to home in Ireland. Although it’s my third time in Ireland, I’ve never ventured south of the line between Galway (on the west coast) and Dublin (on the east). This trip was specifically designed to rectify this oversight, starting last Friday when I flew to Dublin. I immediately drove south to spend the weekend in the Wicklow Mountains before carrying on to Cork via Waterford. This was very much the specialty coffee part of the trip, with visits to Arch Coffee (Waterford) and Dukes Coffee Company, Three Fools Coffee and Filter (all in Cork). From there, I went west to Killarney, spent a day driving around the Ring of Kerry, then headed north to Galway for a couple of days before completing the loop by returning Dublin yesterday evening.
Three Fools Coffee on Cork’s Grand Parade was the second of my three stops on Monday’s whirlwind speciality coffee tour. As with my other two stops (Dukes and Filter), it was a recommendation from local expert, Caroline O’Keeffe.
Over the years, I’ve described quite a few places as coffee cubes, starting with Manchester’s original espresso cube (aka the sadly missed Forté Espresso Bar). In concept, Three Fools is the closest to an actual cube, despite not being cube-shaped (it needs to be twice as high and maybe 50% wider). However, it feels like a cube, with its timber-framed windows on three sides and a slightly incongruous concrete floor and ceiling.
At first sight, you might think that Three Fools would be a takeaway joint, or a mainstream coffee bar (Cork has plenty of these, by the way). Stepping inside dispels those notions instantly: this is a no-holds-barred, full-service third-wave coffee shop. There are two single-origins on espresso, roasted in-house, with a house or guest single-origin on filter, with a choice of batch brew, cafetiere (for one or two), V60 or Chemex (for two). If you’re hungry, there’s a choice of three sandwiches and three toasties, plus a selection of cake.
I’m currently touring Ireland, having started off in the Wicklow Mountains, before driving down to Cork on Sunday. Along the way I took a detour via Waterford, partly because I thought the route would be more interesting, but mostly to visit today’s Coffee Spot, Arch Coffee. There are two Arch Coffees in Waterford. The original, on George’s Street, is closed on Sundays, so I visited the second one, which is just around the corner on Peter’s Street. This is pretty small, although I’ve been told that compared to the original, it’s huge!
A generous outside seating area has three long tables, behind which is the shop. The only seating here is a four-person bar on the left, most of the space being given over to retail shelves (right) and the counter (back). Arch Coffee stocks Dublin’s 3FE, with multiple single-origins for sale in retail bags, one of which is available via a standard espresso-based menu, along with a small cake selection. Note that it’s takeaway cups only, so don’t forget to bring your own.
As part of my current trip to Ireland, I spent yesterday in Cork, exploring its excellent coffee scene. Of course, a day was wholly inadequate for the task, with local expert, Caroline O’Keeffe, giving me a list of ten places to try! I managed a paltry three, starting with breakfast at Dukes Coffee Company. There are two branches of Dukes, the original city-centre location on Carey’s Lane (where I ended up), and a second east of the centre in City Gate.
Dukes serves coffee exclusively from Irish roasters, with a bespoke, seasonal house-blend, Three Lands from Bewley’s. This is joined by guest single-origins on espresso and batch brew. The current single-origin espresso is the San Cayetano from El Salvador, roasted by Dublin’s 3FE, while the batch brew is a naturally-processed Ethiopian, roasted by Stone Valley Roasters from Clonakilty in County Cork. However, don’t wait too long to try them, since they change every two weeks or so, with the next espresso, from nearby Badger & Dodo in Fermoy, lined up and ready to go!
All this is backed up by a selection of sandwiches and cakes, plus excellent breakfast and lunch menus, served until one o’clock (two o’clock at weekends).
Badger & Dodo is a curious beast, and not just for its name. Starting life as a roastery in Cork in 2008, Badger & Dodo supplies coffee shops across Ireland. Except for the west coast. So, to plug the gap, in October 2014 Badger & Dodo opened its own café in Galway. As you do.
Occupying the corner of a modern, glass-walled building, Badger & Dodo is a bright and awkward-shaped spot. Just around the corner from the train station, bus station and coach station, there really is no excuse not to visit if you arrive in Galway by public transport (unless you arrive in late afternoon, when Badger & Dodo is closed). If, like I was, you leave by public transport, be sure to allow an hour or two before your train/bus/coach to sample the full coffee menu. Although maybe that’s just me…
Badger & Dodo serves a single-origin on espresso (which changes every five/six weeks or so) and another on filter through V60/Aeropress/Chemex (which changes every week or so). You can also buy a large range of single-origin beans. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a wide selection of handmade sandwiches/toasties, plus an excellent-looking range of pastries and cakes.
Coffeewerk + Press was the one place that practically everyone, including my friends in Galway, recommended that I visit. Be warned though, it’s not your typical coffee shop. Spread over three floors of a narrow building, there’s seating outside in the form of three two-person tables, while inside, the counter occupies the back of the ground floor, with the seating spread out over the upper two floors. The first of these is a design store, with benches along the wall and a smattering of chairs, while right at the top is an art gallery, with a handful of chairs.
When it comes to coffee, don’t visit Coffeewerk + Press expecting to sample the best of Irish roasters. Coffeewerk’s unapologetically international, with a house-blend & decaf on espresso from Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective and single-origin pour-overs from roasters across Europe and beyond (including Japan and the USA). You can also buy the beans. If you’re hungry, there is a small, but excellent, selection of cake and chocolate. The main downside is that Coffeewerk only uses takeaway cups, even if you’re sitting in, so be prepared to bring your own (this is due to licencing problems rather than any active decision from Coffeewerk).
However, most of the time I was at The Village, an area reserved for various small batch speciality roasters. I used this as an opportunity to catching up with various European roasters that I otherwise wouldn’t get to meet, including several Irish roasters who were out in force.
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.
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.