Coffee in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England

Coffee in IrelandTravelers from New England soon learn that Ireland has a very different coffee culture. While Americans consume on average .931 cups of coffee per day, the Irish consume only .215, or less than one quarter of the coffee their American counterparts consume.

We explored the countryside and also the biggest cities, Dublin and Belfast, and of course I was on the lookout for good coffee. Here's what I discovered: 

  • Good coffee can be had in the bigger cities and from some coffee-conscious restaurauteurs, but it is not widespread and most people don't know what they are missing. 
  • Almost all the coffee available at restaurants and snack shops comes in the form of an Americano or other espresso drinks from the espresso machine. It's different from filtered coffee and I don't like it as well. 
  • Some gas stations have a machine that grinds the beans and pushes hot water through it, just like the Starbucks machines in many high-tech offices. The proudly proclaim "coffee as it should be" and it's pretty good, especially for gas station coffee.
  • Hotels have an electronic teapot and a selection of tea bags and instant coffee. 
  • Some B&Bs have French presses, but they don't have much choice with regard to origin and roast of the beans. 
  • A few places have the diner-style Bunn coffee makers that make one glass pitcher at a time. Then, like many diners, they set the pitcher on the hotplate to burn all day.
  • Iced coffee is unknown. It's is not only unknown, but many Irish are downright baffled by the idea. 
  • The best iced coffee that I had was from an enterprising barista who made an Americano, but he replaced the hot water with cold and then poured it over ice. It was a valiant attempt.
  • Lorna longed for an iced chai, but we never even got close on that one. 

I found good knowledgeable coffeehouses in Dublin, Belfast, and Cork. At Estd in Belfast I had good coffee and even something new - their Cascara. But even they do not have the variety of coffees and roasts that we take for granted in New England. 

My advice for coffeehounds visiting Ireland: bring a French press or a cone filter and buy coffee at a good coffee shop in one of the bigger cities, then make it in your hotel room with water boiled in the electric tea kettle that they always provide.