Everyone for Coffee


There has been, no doubt about it, a serious boom in coffee culture in Ireland over recent years. Beyond the vicinity of Bewley’s, once the coffee capital of the nation, homegrown chains like Insomnia, and mega-franchises like Starbucks have come to our shores in the last two decades, and spread virally.

Away from the big corporate purveyors however, a subtler movement has been taking root. NewsFour got talking with a few entrepreneurs carrying the can for coffee culture in Dublin 4 and beyond.

One of Grand Canal Dock’s best kept secrets is the Pause Café, known to some but not to others. The owner and manager, Alex, is gregarious and chatty with his customers, and the café specialises in an authentic Italian experience. From the food to the gelato to the coffee itself, it inspires loyalty in those who visit it.

As we conduct the interview, we watch the wakeboarding on the water out of the corner of our eyes. I ask Alex why he thinks so many places like his have sprung up in recent years; it’s a lazy question and he takes polite issue with it. “The way you’re asking this, it’s like you’re saying all coffee places are the same. All the cafés in the area are different: owners, clients, not the same at all. Each place has its own speciality, its own way of doing business. Some places will teach barista courses, for instance.”

Pause Café has been in Grand Canal Dock for two years now, and Alex says he loves the area. Walking up from Pause, sloshing inside from large cappuccinos, we pass Il Valentino’s on the corner with Pearse St, another good spot for a continental style coffee.

On Grand Canal Street Lower, on the corner with Macken St is one of Ireland’s great success stories of recent years, 3fe Coffee. Founded by Colin Harmon, 3fe was sited for a long time on Abbey Street in the Twisted Pepper. Their current D4 location has a sleek, minimal interior.

When asked about the rise in coffee culture and gourmet coffee, Colin credits it to travel. “I think it would have happened eventually anyway, as it’s been growing in the States and the UK, Australia for a while. Irish people travel a lot and I think they were coming home after having great coffee elsewhere and then still wanting that experience at home.” As for their own uniqueness, Colin says 3fe always strive to improve. “We have a training school upstairs for people who want to become baristas professionally, or just get better for their home brewing. We now have a roasterie down in Dublin Port which supplies beans for about 40 companies.”

As if echoing Colin’s first answer, the next person I speak to, Ken Flood – owner and manager of Love Supreme Coffee, recently opened as far afield as Stoneybatter – explains that he spent 12 years in Sydney, Australia and wanted to bring some of the quality he experienced there back. “The coffee culture in Australia is highly developed. We ran a cocktail bar, night club so we didn’t serve much but what we did was good.”

Ken explains that loving supremely good coffee is what his place is about, hence the name, and creating a great experience overall is part of that. “We’ve gone hell for leather on the interiors, a great sound system and design. It’s about introducing people to what they might not otherwise encounter.”
And on that note, your correspondent might need to switch to decaf for a day or two.

Above: Colin Harmon of 3fe coffee.

By Rúairí Conneely