The whole wide coffee world is paying attention to Dublin these days, spurned on by the remarkable growth of its cafe scene and the impending 2016 World Barista Championships, which Dublin will host. And while Colin Harmon's 3FE is a bellweather cafe if there ever was one — they've helped usher in great coffee in Ireland, and have exciting plans for the future — the conversation on Dublin's cafe scene doesn't end there.
3FE is a great cafe in Dublin, but it's not the only one. Our staff writer Elyse Bouvier has proof.
Armed with a map of amazing cafes in Dublin (handily provided by 3FE), I set out on the last day of my holidays to find the best of the best coffee in Dublin. In the process I discovered a small city whose scene is just getting started. There are a plethora of amazing cafes that have opened in the past year, and many, many more on the horizon. And although the 2016 World Barista Championship in Dublin is still 3 years off, the buzz is already palpable. No doubt this city will be ready and waiting (with espresso shaped hearts) for when the coffee world arrives in droves. These are exciting times in Dublin.
The Fumbally (Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8)
How could anyone not love a place named “The Fumbally”? Just repeat the name to yourself — “The Fumbally” — isn't that fun? This was the first stop on my walking tour of Dublin’s cafes, and conveniently located near the very cool neighbourhood of Portobello in which I was staying. Having heard this was a must-go cafe in Dublin, for both food and for coffee, I made this my first stop for breakfast, having no idea what to expect.
It was, hands down, my favourite space in Dublin. The Fumbally was just bundles of charm: an open room with high ceilings, it has tons of natural light, piles of fruit and vegetables in the corner, a big long communal table off to the side complete with a “Please Share Your Table” sign, mismatched furniture, a man strumming a guitar quietly by an old piano, and plants growing in a window farm. I was in heaven. They have an obvious focus on community and local produce; the combined effect feels like being ensconced in a big harvest kitchen. I had a very generous avocado on toast, and a nicely made flat white.
They're serving HasBean coffee here, and pulling shots on a La Marzocco Linea paired with twin Anfim grinders. My flat white was very balanced, with some of the plum jam notes coming through nicely in the milk.
Go here if you like a feel-good community atmosphere, quality food, and a nice espresso.
Tamp & Stitch (Unit 3 Scarlet Row, Essex Street West, Temple Bar, Dublin 8)
The joy of being in a small city — and Dublin is a very small city — is running into people on the streets when you’re out and about. I met Paul Taylor, one of the owners of Tamp & Stitch, the night before my cafe crawl, while out with a friend for burgers. It's a pleasure to know the owner on your first visit to a shop! I knew it had to be on my cafe hop list.
Tamp & Stitch, located in the popular and central Temple Bar area, is precisely what you'd expect a “tamp” and “stitch” shop to be. They've divided their space to include a women’s clothing shop and a cafe, with just a handful of cafe seats clustered around the espresso bar. This set up is intimate and really great if, like me, you like to sit at the bar and chat coffee. The shop itself is intimate and dimly lit, with scattered clothing, jewelry, and art on the walls. My cappuccino and espresso, again made with HasBean, were both very nice – lots of sweetness, clearly well-made on a Nuova Simonelli, with more nice jammy notes in the finish.
For now they're espresso only, but my new buddy Paul told me he has plans to do more filter coffee (with his brand-new Marco Boiler, based in Dublin, natch). This will for sure be an interesting development to watch, because out of the many cafes I visited in Dublin, only a few seem to be focusing on filter coffee.
Go here if you’re looking for some great conversation or to browse the eclectic mix of clothes while you sip your coffee.
Indigo & Cloth (9 Essex St E, Temple Bar, Co. Dublin 2)
Just a short jaunt down the road you find yourself in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar area, at Indigo & Cloth. This place is another clothing shop and cafe combo, oddly enough, and is the sister project of an upstairs design studio bearing the same name. Indigo & Cloth’s retail focus is on high-end Scandinavian bags (like Sandqvist), cool clothes, and books.
My experience here could have been wonky, but wasn't.
Go here for a nice pour-over coffee, and to empty your wallet on beautifully designed posters and bags.
Brother Hubbard (153 Capel St, Dublin)
This cafe is already an old favourite, and they've only been open about a year now. Brother Hubbard is, on multiple visits, a packed coffee bar, likely due to it gorgeous space (designed by the amazing DesignGoat), a well-administered coffee bar (run by the wonderful Bruno Ferrer), and excellent local food made by part-owner James Bowland. As I was wandering the space, taking a few snapshots, James poked his head out of the kitchen to chat. His passion and friendliness won me over before I even had anything to eat or drink.
The space is long and narrow, with plenty of seating. There's a beautiful little garden outside, communal tables inside, and even though it’s small space, it feels comfortable; its light details and aesthetic grace keep Brother Hubbard from ever feeling cramped, even when it's busy. Oh, and the staff are all friendly, and the baked goods lined up on the counter are consistently tempting. I had a lovely espresso here, with nice plum sweetness and balanced acidity. Highly recommended!
When 3FE sold their original space in Twisted Pepper earlier this year, the buyer was one Tom Stafford, a former 3FE employee who transformed the space into a new cafe called Vice. Like 3FE before it, Vice runs during the daytime at Twisted Pepper, a nightclub that houses a coffee bar during the day. Since the transition, Tom and his team have done an amazing job with the look and feel of the space, keeping it with the feel of being in a bar but classing it up.
The front area has loads of nice seating in the sun and a nice airy feel. Your order coffee at the bar in back, and there are loads of HasBean bags and other coffee merch lined up along a mirror. A very cool neon “Vice” sign looms behind the bar, and the hanging menu and menus on each table are a nice touch as well.
Vice is yet-another HasBean wholesale client in Dublin, but they do bring in Koppi from Sweden at times. You may have noticed that this guide is, shall we say, Hasbean-heavy. My guess is that as Dublin's scene grows, we'll start to see more cafes offering a wider variety of roasters. For now they're well-served by the immense variety available within HasBean's offering sheet, which is one of the largest and most widely varied of any specialty roaster in the world.
Go here for a mellow “underground” vibe and a really nice espresso.
It's time we end this list, and there were so many other cafes that I could have covered, as the city seems to keep adding more at every turn. For future visitors to Dublin who consult this guide, I strongly recommend starting your cafe crawl at 3FE's flagship cafe on Grand Canal Street. You'll find delicious coffee there, of course – soon to be roasted by 3FE itself! – but you'll also find a free copy the invaluable map they publish on Dublin's cafe scene. It's updated regularly, and was enormously helpful for me in writing this article.