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15 July 2012

The (Dublin) Caffeine Chronicles

A good test of whether I will like a city is the presence of good independent espresso bars. My initial Google search for something along the lines of "Dublin + macchiato + coffee + bar + independent" turned up a New York-based blog post of my own, which was a little worrying.

But I did eventually happen across 3FE, which has two locations, one fairly near my hotel in the O'Connell Street area and one south of the Liffey on Lower Grand Canal Street. As the opening hours of the former didn't really fit well with my long conference days, I paid a visit to the latter at the end of my run on the first day. The cafe itself ticks all of my espresso bar boxes: cool, industrial vibe, good machine, and an interesting coffee menu (including various tasting menus). I was initially dubious when my double macchiato arrived with a lot of milk in it--I prefer mine with just a dash--but actually, it tasted great. I guess the coffee was just really good. 3FE also hosts the Irish Barista Champion from 2009, 2010 and 2012, so that probably helped.

3FE (top) and Cup (bottom)

Handily, 3FE had a little map on the back of its menu showing various other places in Dublin where you could drink Hasbean coffee. Adding these to the two or three other coffee bars I had found of my own accord meant I had an embarrassment of coffee purveyors to test out during my stay. Thanks to the conference, though, and a lot of the places not opening until 11 or 12 at the weekend, I only got the chance to visit two others.


The Dublin macchiato map, with some annotations from me

I went to Cup on Leinster Street South (near Trinity College) on Saturday morning before a meeting. I didn't have time to drink in, which was a shame because it looked like a cool place to hang out. The cakes also looked delicious. I ordered my usual double mac and the barista asked if I'd like to try their single-origin coffee; she didn't like it, she told me, but if I liked smooth, chocolatey coffees, I would probably enjoy it. Indeed, it was really tasty. Possibly the best macchiato of my stay.

Macchiato at 3FE (left) and Cup (right)

Finally, I paid a visit to Tamp & Stitch on Essex Street West (in Temple Bar) on Saturday afternoon. I had already had far too much caffeine by this point, but needed another hit to get me through to the evening. Tamp & Stitch is definitely the most innovative of the coffee bars I visited and basically, it has all of my favourite things: as well as serving good coffee, they also sell pretty clothes and jewellery. I sat talking to the owner and his friend for about an hour--they were really friendly (and it was the guy who recommended Jo'Burger to me) and told me how two years ago, it was really hard to find good espresso in Dublin but that it's finally started to take off. The owner trained at 3FE before starting his own place. It really is a lovely coffee shop and my macchiato was strong, rich and tasty, so I highly recommend it.

Tamp & Stitch. The clue's in the name, really.

I had hoped to go to The Art of Coffee this morning before heading to the airport, but the timings didn't work out; they apparently came first and second in the Irish Latte Art championships this year! Other places that will be on my list for next time are: Brother Hubbard (on Capel Street in Smithfield), Roasted Brown (upstairs in Filmbase, a resource centre for filmmakers in Temple Bar), and two coffee bars on Aungier Street (The Humble Bean and The Bald Barista).

3FE. 32-34 Lower Grand Canal Street, and 54 Middle Abbey Street. Website. Twitter.
Cup. 15 Leinster Street South. Website. Twitter.
Tamp & Stitch. Unit 3 Scarlet Row, Essex Street West, Temple Bar. Website. Twitter.

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