When you think coffee in Ireland, it’s a natural instinct to first imagine the Irish coffee, a foaming caffeinated drink spiked with whiskey and sweetened with cream. It’s truly the unofficial national caffeinated beverage of the Emerald Isle. But, beyond its beloved Irish coffee, Ireland has surely stepped up its coffee culture, sprinkling brick-and-mortar coffee shops throughout its geography and introducing places that manufacture and roast their own beans (and even deliver to other local coffee shops). From trendy Dublin and sophisticated Cork to traditional Donegal and modern Belfast, there exists a few of my favourite (and adorable) go-to Irish coffee shops that know how to put that extra (homemade) kick in your coffee. So, here’s where to go to take a much-needed espresso shot, sip a beautifully crafted cappuccino, and indulge in a plain cup of coffee (spiked with Irish whiskey – completely dependent on you).
Address: Rosemount Terrace, 5 Arbour Hill, Stoneybatter, Dublin, Ireland
This Irish coffee shop is hidden away from plain sight; but, I promise, once you find it and step into the teal-hued establishment, the coffee smell lingers, calling you in further. The tiny store itself is quirky; half-café and half-greengrocers, this place serves freshly made coffee while you ponder shopping goods from Irish provenance. The first time I came here, I settled into one of their cosy chairs and sipped on a cortado, while munching on an almond croissant. After I finished my coffee break, I wandered off into their treasure trove of a store and went home to my AirBnB with some local Irish produce!
Address: 32 Grand Canal Street Lower, Dublin 2, Ireland
3fe, lesser known as Third Floor Espresso, is one of few Irish coffee shops that treat coffee like an artistic craft. Colin Harmon, the four-time Irish Barista Champion and owner of Dublin’s 3fe Coffee, knows a thing or two about running coffee shops (just take a look at his stunning new book here). Harmon opened 3fe’s first location in 2009 before moving to Grand Canal Street two years later; he started roasting coffee beans in 2014. His coffee beans are so loved (and sell like hotcakes) that he delivers to other shops throughout Dublin, as well as some in Belfast! His Grand Canal café is a dreamy escape, with brick walls, wide windows, and outdoor seating. Inside, the wooden tables beckon in uni students, and the smell of roasted coffee beans is enough to convert the lesser of coffee addicts.
Address: 50 William St S, Dublin 2, D02 DE93, Ireland
Stuck deciding between coffee and tea? Well, look no further: Clement & Pekoe is the Irish coffee shop that does both (and you’ll possibly be ordering both, mind you). But, this article is about coffee and the adorable Irish coffee shops that serve java, so, for now, let’s overlook the fact that this place stocks over fifty teas from around the world! Clement & Pekoe is located on South William Street, a hustling-and-bustling street lined narrowly with bars, restaurants, and all-things-vintage shops. You’ll walk through the shop’s arched, windowed entrance, flooding with honeyed light and fragranced with coffee beans (not just for show). Once inside, you’ll see the shop’s walls shelved with cast-iron teapots and decorated with wooden picture frames. A communal table is in the middle to encourage people-watching.
Here, you won’t find syrupy drinks, but rather high-end caffeinated drinks, so prepare to indulge in a double macchiato or a flat white! Their almond financiers are the perfect accompaniment!
Address: Grand Parade, Centre, Cork, Ireland
Opened in 2015 by childhood friends, Three Fools is a lovely coffee shop to set your sights on! The establishment looks similar to a glass box. Its glass-paned walls welcome the morning sun (when it’s out), and its wooden architecture gives off modern vibes. If you’re in a rush, take away a to-go cup of mocha. If you can stay awhile, indulge in their lattes keen with lovely cream art…and, most importantly, dig into their buttery croissants! Keep a lookout for their chalkboard with daily affirmation or quotations: “As long there is coffee, there is hope!”
Address: 123 Barrack St, The Lough, Cork, T12 A594, Ireland
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Irish coffee shop, then, welcome to Alchemy. Located on Barrack Street, this coffee haven is home to a creative décor mixed in with a relaxed vibe; not to mention, its playlist deserves its own radio station. And, if you’ve been waiting for a crossover to happen, it’s here: Alchemy serves 3fe coffee that is tenderly crafted from bean to cup. From the outside, Alchemy looks like a typical Irish pub; the gold capitalized letters are enough to fool you if it weren’t for “coffee & bookstore” spelled right next to the sign. From the inside, it looks like your stereotypical coffee shop but with decorations right off your Pinterest moodboards. Their orange-cinnamon-cranberry cake is a delight, and it goes exceptionally well with their coconut mocha.
Address: 54 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LB, United Kingdom
There’s no doubt Belfast has a burgeoning coffee scene, and Established Coffee is one of those Irish coffee shops doing that scene justice. Established Coffee takes its beans seriously; it’s practically a lifestyle. The establishment is a corner plot; take a look at its concrete floors, low-hanging bulbs (for some mood lighting), and wooden counters, all reminiscent of an industrial warehouse. Searching for a place to get work done (once lockdown is lifted and the pandemic has ceased to exist, of course)? Established Coffee is the most perfect place to linger with your laptop, as you sip on your flat white and bask in the deliciousness of their white chocolate cake!
Address: 34 Bedford St, Belfast BT2 7FF, Britain
Harlem Coffee is “nestled next to the historic Ulster hall in the heart of Belfast city centre.” This bohemian coffee shop by day will instantly become your best friend. Ots elegant antique decor is parallel to its lovingly crafted fare. The ceilings rain down with hanging flowers, and its communal tables make it just sociable enough to make a new friend. I can’t help but recommend their enviable latte; and, if you make it for breakfast, don’t forget to order their chocolate-drizzled pancakes with fresh strawberries. Who knew coffee and pancakes would make an unwavering duo?
Address: 8-22 Upper Main St, Ardaravan, Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Ireland
Last, but certainly not least, the Lily Rose in Donegal is a glamorous Irish coffee shop and tea room that not only calls coffee and tea their craft, but also baking. The pink-painted establishment is reminiscent of a communal tea party, but, in coronavirus times, the shop does well in its PPE regulations. Their lattes are perfectly bittersweet, and a slice of their leaning chocolate cake is always the loveliest way to keep your sweet tooth happy! Don’t let their afternoon tea convince you it’s a tea room: it’s definitely a pink, sugary take on coffee (and one that you won’t regret). And, if you’re lucky, you’ll see their traveling caravan selling their signature coffee and tea.
There has definitely been a major caffeine hit in Ireland; coffee culture is on the rise. The Irish coffee shop revolution is only starting, and, with the lovely Irish personality, every coffee cup is bound to be served with a bit of craic and charm. So, next time, when you’re in desperate need of a handcrafted caffeinated drink, visit Irish coffee shops to get your fix.