We were lucky enough to have booked ourselves in for Saturday brunch at Forest Avenue, now Forest Avenue isn’t a coffee shop it’s a Michelin calibre restaurant (imho at the very least), but I feel it’s worth making note of places that should serve great coffee but aren’t necessarily expected to. Here the food was amazing to say the least and I’m not sure I could isolate an individual course that stood out as being better than the rest, such was the consistent quality of the food. Still coffee was an afterthought for us at least, we had plans to move on to 3fe afterwards and weren’t expecting anything extraordinary to go with our brunch. We probably should have noticed more quickly the extreme professionalism of the open kitchen and the relaxed but attentive service. The brunch opened up with coffee.
Decanted into wonderfully presented ceramic cups and accompanied by a lovely informational board the coffee here was clearly a considered course rather than the aforementioned afterthought. Arriving with deep strawerry and grape pomace aromas this was local roaster Cloud Picker’s Kenya Iyego a washed SL28 and SL34 mix, with flavours of strawberry and caramel with blackcurrant on the finish, it had a smooth and syrupy mouthfeel, on the darker side of a light roast. It turned out to be one of the best cups of coffee that we had in Dublin, unfortunately everywhere we went subsequent to this stocking Cloud Picker coffee had sold out of the Kenyan throughout our trip, no surprises there I guess.
The food was great, the coffee was great, the attention to detail was great and the service was relaxed, attentive and friendly. After professing our love for the coffee the waitor sat with us and wrote us up a list of recommendations for breakfast, coffee and dinner in Dublin helping us to skip on having a bad meal all trip.
8 Sussex Terrace
A short walk away down a lovely strip of canal bathed in sunshine, we made our way to the notorious and ubiquitous 3fe. On entering its a bright and naturally lit mix of airy wooden tables with splashes of red and white house colours. Browsing a deep list of options on the menu board behind the counter and with a bit of help from our barista we settled on a naturally processed bourbon varietal from Los Jocotales, Guatemala as a chemex to share.
This wasn’t our first order of 3fe coffee since we’d arrived in Dublin and it certainly wouldn’t be our last, they’re clearly by and large the biggest roaster in Dublin if not in Ireland alltogether. So we’d been trying to avoid too many cafes serving 3fe before coming to the home of 3fe first. Taking a seat in the window we waited for the coffee to arrive while spectating the busy comings and goings of customers in a seemingly quieter end of town.
The coffee arrived with aromas of raspberries, lime and macadamia nuts, well presented on a 3fe inlaid presentation board. Pouring some cups and letting it cool a while, it tasted of soft dark raspberries with some chocolate shortcrust pastry, marzipan and a little lime on the finish. Almost thick with this big smooth body it was pretty dessert like in its qualities. As we sat drinking we noticed that we had potentially missed out on some more unusual opportunities, browsing a leaflet on the table 3fe provided an unusual list of coffee drinking styles, a mixture of coffee novelty and education.
From water tasting, to cuppings, to non traditional espresso methods, there’s a range of coffee experimentation going on here for those looking for a more novel experience. A little sad we’d forgone the opportunity to partake in this novelty, we realised that all we’d really wanted was a good cup of coffee and we had that anyway.
32 Grand Canal Street Lower
After 3fe we headed to Dublin Science Gallery, in part for the coffee, but also because the science gallery looked really cool. After spending the next couple of hours interacting with exhibits and learning about the future of food production, including eating some unfathomably hot chillies and purchasing some flower sprout seeds we headed down to the cafe for some respite.
Browsing the menu it was pretty clear what I should have been ordering, lime, hazelnut and butterscotch weren’t exactly my go to in terms of flavour profiles, but unusual brew methods and the term ‘Competition Coffee’ were enough to help me make a leap of faith. I mean after all we were in a science gallery and if there’s anywhere I’d be willing to try unusual brewing methods it’s there.
Arriving on another board with a Cloud Picker information sheet having finished its brewing in a hario wood neck cloth filter, I poured a little into the cup to let it cool. This coffee was a mix of fully washed red and yellow bourbon with some typica creating sweet mazipan and hazelnut aromas. The tasting notes were bang on, Vibrant bright lime with hazelnut and butterscotch and a silky mouthfeel, what’s more it was hugely transparent with a great degree of clarity. This coffee might not have been my general go to, but it was a faultless brew, no doubt why it made its way to the Irish Brewer’s Cup.
The Naughton Institute, Pearse Street
Pretty much a Dublin institution Fallon & Byrne is the starting point for all things of quality. From exciting fresh produce to epicurean delights, a downstairs wine cellar and upstairs restaurant, everything at Fallon & Byrne feels like its been specially selected by a team of connoisseurs. This theme doesn’t stop with the café either, which features a tantalising array of cakes and pastries and single origin coffees to pair with them.
Approaching the counter it was easy to see the blackboard on the back featuring their ‘Barista’s choice’ filter for the day, which was the washed Finca El Libano from Guatemala. We ordered a couple of cups and watched as they prepared it on aeropress as we took up seats in the window.
Arriving with butter toffee and green apple aromas, to taste there was a green apple acidity with sweet notes of caramel and toffee and a buttery baked apple finish. Finishing up we took a browse round all the great produce and struggled not to spend a fortune on food, knowing that we had no real way to transport it home anyway. Staring at bags of coffee from Dublin roasters 3fe and Cloud Picker as well as Fallon & Byrne offerings and a selection of imports from the Barn, we thought we better leave before things got out of hand.
11-17 Exchequer St
Wandering around Dublin’s Temple Bar area our attention drifted between various fashion and design shops, full of pretty and unique items, before we came across Tamp & Stitch. It seems to be a growing trend for design stores to branch out into specialty coffee, with more than a couple of the shops I visit these days coming with curated collections of fashion and design items, giving you something nice to do while you wait for your coffee to finish brewing.
With the opportunity to try 3fe’s washed Finca El Libano from Guatemala brewed on aeropress it was a nice chance to compare it with the one we’d just had at Fallon & byrne. With the malic turning slightly tropical, the coffee arrived with aromas of mango and yellow stonefruits and to taste there was a big dark chocolate base giving a full but soft mouthfeel with top notes of mango and yellow fruits. As we wandered around some more browsing the collection, we took the coffee to go as we went to see some more of Dublin.
Unit 3 Scarlet Row, Essex Street West, Temple Bar