A quiet, residential street in Portobello, south Dublin, is not, at first sight, where you’d expect to find one of Dublin’s top coffee shops. It’s certainly not somewhere I would have found without the tip-off I received from Roasted Brown, whose roastery I (briefly) visited at the start of my current trip to Ireland.
First Draft Coffee & Wine is a fairly small spot, although it’s got as much seating inside as yesterday’s Coffee Spot, 3FE Sussex Terrace, in about a quarter of the space. It pretty much does what it says on the tin, serving coffee in the mornings through to the early evenings (seven or eight o’clock), with a magnificent selection of wine from noon onwards, and a small evening menu after five. There’s also a very tempting selection of cakes and pastries, while you can buy both coffee beans and bottles of wine to take home with you.
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.
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).