Travels with my Coffee: Ireland 2019

My Travel Press, at a stop on the southern part of the Ring of Kerry, overlooking Abbey Island with the Lambs Head headland beyond that, and, in the far distance, the Bere Peninsular.Welcome to another Travels with my Coffee, where I take my coffee to all the best places, particularly when there are no speciality coffee shops to be found. This is the fourth Travels with my Coffee this year, following on from my road trip through Arizona & New Mexico in January, a trip to Shanghai in March and five weeks in the USA in May.

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.

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Three Fools Coffee

An Americano extracting into a cup of hot water at Three Fools Coffee in CorkThree 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.

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Arch Coffee, Peter’s Street

The Arch Coffee logo, taken from the door of Waterford's Arch Coffee on Peter's Street.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.

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Dukes Coffee Company, Carey’s Lane

A carafe of the natural Ethiopian batch brew from Stone Valley Roaster, served at Dukes Coffee Company in Cork.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).

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