Food & DrinkGrub Spy

Suddenly, coffee in the capital is a whole lot more interesting

Grub SpyBy Alan Kelly
Wake up and smell it: The Art of Coffee
Wake up and smell it: The Art of Coffee

Dublin’s passion for coffee is going off the scale.

But besides what the mainstream outlets are offering, we’re also going nuts for more refined brews that set our taste buds on fire. And there’s a lorry-load of new purveyors out there with their fingers on the pulse, ready to unleash some great caffeine action.
 
Suddenly, coffee has become a whole lot more interesting. Of course, our coffee preferences tend to be dictated by the time we can spare in a busy day.
 
I prefer my coffee shop to be short on buns, fancies, and way-out sandwiches, but long on rich, dark coffee explosiveness that I can smell two blocks away. The way Bewleys used to smell on Grafton Street when I was a kid.
 
I want less of the throw-everything-in kitchen sink approach, and more time devoted to the tricky art of getting the roast just right. There will always be a litany of caffeinated monsters out there, but today I’m concentrating on dishing out the plaudits on three of the best five-star outlets in the capital.  
 
The Art of Coffee
 
Iveagh Court, Harcourt Road, Dublin 2
 
Located on a major intersection on Harcourt Road, The Art Of Coffee is an unexpectedly elegant shop with an excellent food range (cakes, muffins, salads etc) and staff members who know the value of a friendly smile will pay off (almost) as much as a good coffee.
 
Unlike other commercial area coffee shops, AOC is a genuine sanctuary and, if needs be, a place to talk business. I notice a couple of casual office meetings  alongside punters relaxing on the own. The coffee is right up there as well. Beautiful beans and skillful brewers are both a joy and a surprise. 
 
Accents Coffee and Tea Lounge
 
23 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2
 
Finding head space in Dublin city center can be an impossible task. But I think Accents Coffee & Tea lounge on Stephen Street Lower has cracked it. The emphasis here is not only on fine coffee, but also very much on comfort, with a reliable Wi-Fi connection thrown in.
 
It’s definitely more a place to hang out in than rush out of. Like a reverse engineered unfriendly city center café, ACTL is a clever alliance of coffee with a knowing nod towards interesting tea.
 
There’s something truly captivating about this spot. It’s that tucked-away vibe just yards from Stephen’s Green. You sink into a big leather armchair sip a beautiful mellow cup of brown gold and… mmm. Lovely jubbly. 
 
La Corte 
 
1 Liffey Steet Lower, Dublin 1
 
La Corte in the Epicurean Food Hall between Abbey Street and Liffey Street might not be as strong in the comfort stakes, but the coffee – as evidenced by the legion of city slaves who line up for a life-saving take-away – is truly a brew to cherish. In fact, it’s a testament to the quality of the Italian roast.
 
Fissured with heady layers of sultry burnt chocolate and hints of tobacco, and finished with a crema that lingers like a tawny ghost, this (for me) is a glorious product that few other brewers come near to.
 
If it’s a small intimate place with amazing coffee you’re after, look no further.