The fact that Ireland has a burgeoning specialty coffee scene is undeniable. From quality-focused brew bars to family-oriented brunch spots; specialty cafes-come-natural wine bars to enviable drive-thru spots on busy commuter highways, the ability to seek out a brew that’s not just carefully made and delicious, but offered up so hospitably is wonderfully — refreshingly — easy.

Friday 1st March being the first time that the doors have opened on the Dublin Coffee Festival is therefore somewhat surprising. What wasn’t a surprise, though, was the wonderful reception it received. The industry was out in force at the capital’s The Complex building, a concentration of coffee professionals showcasing, speaking, competing and sharing their views and insights.

It was fantastic to re-connect with Trish and Ferg of Roasted Brown, bringing back fond memories of coffee buying trips to Brazil, and to see Mark and Bridgeen of Established brewing up and serving their coffees to visitors. The fun of closed-door cuppings at the Belfast cafe remain fresh, despite it having been more than half a decade on. Also in attendance were Workshop Coffee alumni, Dan and Zarah, now several years into their Galway-based journey, Calendar Coffee. Sharing a worldview as well as a work history, it’s always a pleasure to share a coffee and conversation with them both.

Outside of the festival, we were pleased to spend some time with Ollie, founder and owner of Network Cafe. Having been serving our coffee for 8 years, we worked with Ollie to take the reins on Aungier Street for the morning, commandeering the bar to offer up a festival-only espresso roast of Kenyan coffee Gakuyu-ini PB alongside a special filter roast of the ever-floral Hunkute, an Ethiopian stalwart that we’ve been roasting for almost 10 years. For us, this cafe takeover epitomised the point of Dublin Coffee Festival and others like it. Not only do they provide an opportunity to spend time with our peers and partners; they also offer a fantastic platform for us to connect the dots from our sourcing and roasting approach all the way through to the people that drink it. It was a true pleasure to meet so many Network regulars and newcomers. 

Thanks and kudos must be extended to Grace and the Cup North team for the organisation of Dublin Coffee Festival. A multitude of moving parts came together over the weekend to create an event that captures the essence of the specialty coffee industry, balancing its independent spirit with its lofty ambitions.

We left Dublin buoyed by our sojourn in the city. Fortunate enough to have spent some time eating and drinking in just a small handful of its cafes, we were continually blown away by the level of enthusiasm and warmth we experienced during our visits. We perhaps lingered longer than we should have at the likes of Hatch, Proper Order Coffee Co and Two Pups, and definitely departed over-caffeinated, but this was a small price to pay for the well-rounded and thoughtful experiences we enjoyed. 

Any good trip should end with the wish for more time — a few more hours to revisit a couple more spots, perhaps another day to discover those you know you missed. That’s how we left the city, and we’re looking forward to getting back soon.