Traditionally the Irish are a nation of tea drinkers, but coffee has certainly come front and centre over the past few years. It seems there’s a barista on every corner and cup in every hand. But buyer beware. Not all coffee is created equal. It can be difficult to navigate the sea of cafes; with places adapting the look, lingo and feel of speciality coffee without the know-how and beans to back it up. Here are seven outstanding coffee places, that are experts in their field and most importantly, always getting the basics right. You just need to decide what to order…
3FE Grand Canal Street & Sussex Terrace, Dublin 4
The mothership of coffee in Dublin, you’ll find 3FE roasted coffee and 3FE trained baristas in many of the best cafes in Ireland (and indeed further afield). This ambitious coffee company has two stand-alone cafes, another on the way and even a restaurant in the pipeline. 3FE Grand Canal paved the way for the concise cafe menu in Dublin where one size fits all. Choose your bean; then it’s black, white or filter. Trust the simplicity; every cup comes out right. Keen coffee fans also need to visit the pared-back 3FE Sussex Terrace where flawless flat whites are dolled out alongside walls of coffee paraphernalia and soft serve espresso ice-cream. Look out for their homebrew and barista courses, a must for anyone looking to up their coffee game.
Photo: @3fecoffee on Instagram
Vice Coffee, 54 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1
Vice is Dublin’s best and worst kept coffee secret. I’m always surprised if someone doesn’t know where it is, as it’s probably my favourite coffee in the city. Tom Stafford took over the space from 3FE (see above) and continues to serve top quality coffee in the coffee shop-cum-bar (which was once Twisted Pepper and now Wigwam – keeping up?). However he got here, be glad he did. The coffee and service are always top notch, rotating a mix of Irish and international roasters and crafting perfect flat whites and filters to a constant stream of regulars. Vice is also a hotspot for tourists, having been included in too-many-to-mention travel guides and international magazines. Add it to your list.
Photo: @vicecoffeeinc on Instagram
Proper Order, 7 Haymarket, Smithfield, Dublin 7
Since this charming cafe opened its doors off Smithfield Square a couple of years ago, they have been serving up magnificent coffees and are genuinely excited about what they offer. Run by Niall and Aliona, who between them have won a plethora of barista championships including the Irish Brewers Cup and Irish Barista Championship, expect plenty of skill and expertise in every cup. They rotate a mix of coffee suppliers from Ireland and further afield; serving straight up black, white and filters alongside seasonally flavoured lattes. This team knows its stuff inside out, happily sharing its love of coffee with customers. Even during the busiest times, the atmosphere remains relaxed.
Photo: @proper_order_coffee_co on Instagram
Reference Coffee, 49 Pleasants St, Dublin 8
Next to the wonderful Meet Me In The Morning you’ll find their recent addition, Reference Coffee. A charmingly small take away spot (but you can also sit in next door) they serve exactingly brewed cups of coffee using La Cabra, a French coffee, and a host of other great beans both Irish and International. Find them displayed to take home on the picture perfect shelves amongst the chic, Kinfolk-y interiors. And make sure to try the freshly baked doughnuts with brilliant fillings; varying from sea buckthorn to blood orange, damsons, elderberries and cinnamon spiced cheesecake.
Photo: @MeetMeInTheMorning on Instagram
Five Points, 288a Harold‘s Cross Road, Dublin 6W
A 3FE offshoot, Five Points is less coffee focused than the others listed here but that’s not to say the coffee is any lesser. In fact, I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee here. In a buzzing neighbourhood spot, they do a busy line in weekend brunch and weekday lunches, but still always take the time to get the brews just right. They serve rotating 3FE roasts, of which the team will always have great knowledge. What’s more, there’s an ever-changing creative drinks menu including all your regular coffees (with their own dairy-free milk option available made with rice and hazelnut milk); iced white with espresso, milk and cardamom syrup along with Hazelnut Mountain hot chocolate; Green Beards juice, and seasonal homemade sodas.
Photo: @Fivepointsshx on Instagram
Network Cafe, 39 Aungier St, Dublin 2
This under-the-radar Aungier Street cafe is a gem of a find amongst a sea of average cafes on this strip. The smart unit, with a simple design, serves up excellent coffee with no airs and graces. They most often use Caravan Coffee from the UK, but they also feature rotating guest roasters (again, Irish and international). The coffee is always expertly made, the team are super friendly and you can chat as much or as little as you want – so if you’ve coffee questions, fire away.
Photo: @Network.cafe on Instagram
Kaph, 31 Drury St, Dublin 2
This part of town seems to be saturated with coffee, but as I said, not all are created equal. Kaph is worth seeking out for a knockout cup. It’s one of the aforementioned great spots that uses 3FE roasted coffee. The place is always busy with regulars, humming with energy and worth the wait at busier times. They do a sterling filter here and, surprisingly for a speciality coffee shop, they offer an extensive non-dairy selection.
Photo: @Kaphsc on Instagram
Top photo: Tyler Nix on Unsplash
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