I spent the weekend in Dublin at the end of my week-long trip around Ireland, exploring the city’s ever-growing speciality coffee scene. It was my third visit to the city and where better to start than at 3FE, the first speciality coffee shop that I wrote about on my very first visit to Dublin, over five years ago? Back then, 3FE was already an established name, a roaster with a lovely coffee shop on Grand Canal Street. Since then, 3FE has opened two more coffee shops, as well as moving to a bigger roastery.
The subject of today’s Coffee Spot is 3FE’s second location on Sussex Terrace, which opened in the summer of 2016. Just south of the Grand Canal, it’s off Leeson Street, and about a 20-minute stroll along the canal from the original. However, it’s a very different beast, combining takeaway coffee shop with retailer, equipment showroom and training room. If you’re in the market for some home coffee kit, this is definitely the place to come.
Although focused towards the takeaway/retail market, you are welcome to sit in and, as well as two daily options on espresso, there’s also a small selection of cakes to tempt you.
Filter, one of Cork’s speciality coffee pioneers, was the third and final stop on my one-day tour this time last week. I also visited Dukes Coffee Company on Carey’s Lane and Three Fools Coffee, all recommended by local expert, Caroline O’Keeffe, with each totally different from the other two. Filter is a very homely place, with an eclectic mix of styles, kitted out almost entirely with bespoke furniture made from reclaimed wood, no single piece quite matching any other.
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, with a narrow store front facing onto St George’s Quay on the southern bank of the southern branch of the River Lee. Inside, however, it goes a long way back, being maybe five times as deep as it is wide. There are two distinct seating areas, one at the front, the other at the back, with the counter in between.
When it comes to coffee, Filter serves the Momentum blend from 3FE on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest single-origin from Cloud Picker. There’s also a single-origin batch brew, plus a wide selection of single-origins on pour-over from either 3FE or Cloud Picker. If you’re hungry, there’s plenty of cakes and scones.
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.
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.
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!