Irish coffee professional Colin Harmon is set to open the second location of his landmark 3FE brand, located at 7 Sussex Terrace in the Leeson Street neighborhood of Dublin. This marks a major new move for the 3FE brand, following the debut of their roasting program in late 2013.
The space itself is quite different from 3FE’s original location on Grand Canal Street. “Essentially it’s 100% retail,” Harmon explains. “It’s a space to sell beans, brewing equipment, grinders, espresso machines, and cups of coffee to take away.”
The new cafe has no tables or chairs, but as Harmon puts it, it has “everything a coffee lover needs to brew coffee at home or professionally.” It’s also a nice place to pop in for a quick cup, and is sure to be a real draw for the coffee nerd hordes preparing to descend on Dublin for the 2016 World Barista Championship this June.
Sprudge co-founder Zachary Carlsen spoke with Harmon from Dublin.
What’s the neighborhood like?
Its a beautiful old part of the city made famous by the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, whose statue sits nearby on the canal. One of my favourite restaurants in the city, Forest Avenue, is just next door and they’ve also opened a wine bar, Forest and Marcy, around the corner too. There are also two great pubs a few doors up, O’Briens and the Leeson Lounge.
What kind of building is it in?
It used to be a luxury car show room but we’ve flipped it into an espresso machine showroom and stuck a coffee bar on the side. Its really crazy seeing how its transformed over the last few weeks but where people used to go to pick up a Mercedes they can now grab a Victoria Arduino.
Is that an outdoor area I see?
Yes, there’s a driveway where they used to park cars and drive them in and out of the building so we’ve turned it into a nice courtyard for you to park your bike or tie up your dog while you’re waiting for coffee. Its a real sun trap on sunny days so hopefully it gets some use during WBC.
Did you team up with an architect or designer for the build-out?
I designed the layout of the place on sketch-up and then hired an Architect’s Technician to refine the drawing and add elements that I found online and in our existing space. I’d stop short of saying I designed it myself because he put so much hard work into getting it right but by the end of the process the two of us were a fully fledged design team. I like getting hands-on with these things and although it often takes longer and probably pushes the budget out its so satisfying when the place opens and people start to use it.
What kind of gear do you have for the shop?
We’re brewing on a bright red Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Gravimetric and quad-Mythos-ing as we do on Grand Canal Street. Filter coffee comes courtesy of a Marco SP9 and Mahlkonig EK 43 combo and we’ve also recently taken on distribution for the PuqPress which is proving really great on bar.
Tell us about all the espresso machines!
We’ve been distributing both Nuova Simonelli and Victoria Arduino espresso machines and grinders now for about 5 years, but still people don’t realise it. Its become such a large part of our business that we really needed a showroom to show people the full range. Customers can swing by for a cup of coffee and check out all the equipment we have on display—it’s a very integrated space.
Is that a pink and yellow Black Eagle espresso machine?!
Ha! It is, yes. We wanted to put something crazy in the showroom to show the scope and range of colours we can work with so pink and yellow fits that bill. Customisation is such an important aspect of machine sales these days that its nice to have a bit of fun with colours. It remains to be seen if someone will buy it but its definitely gotten a lot of attention.
We’re also refurbing our original 3FE green Aurelia from way back in 2008. The panels went missing but we’ve managed to track them down and it should be ready for WBC in June.
Is that a classic Victoria Arduino lever machine?
The “leva” is always a crowd pleaser and we wanted to have that in the showroom from day one.
Can I touch it?
We’re slightly concerned with someone breaking their jaw with it because its not plumbed and has a very strong kick back, but so far nobody’s been injured by it!
What’s the menu like?
Dead simple, just Espresso/Cappuccino/Filter/Americano. We also run decaf and have 3 coffees on offer, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.
It’s opening just in time for WBC! How is your team preparing for the international coffee community descending on your city?
It’s funny because we’re getting asked by everyone what we’re gonna do, but with the amount of people coming to town its gonna be such a huge challenge to just do what we usually do. Ironically its kind of like a barista competition in that its very tempting to do something new and original that you’ve never done before but the smart thing to do is to stick to what you know.
Go what with what you know, that’s what I always say.
In saying that, we’re making sure the food offering is a nice snapshot of Irish produce for the visiting community and there are rumours of a certain sig-drink making a come back with the help of Petesy Williams.
Sounds delicious! Thanks for taking the time to chat, Colin!
No worries guys, see you soon in Dublin!
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Zachary Carlsen on Sprudge.
Photos courtesy 3FE.