I don't think there's really such a thing as "the best coffee in Dublin". There are many good cafes, and more importantly those cafes serve subtly different market niches. If however I had to pick just one cafe as "the best", if would be Third Floor Espresso (3fe) on Middle Abbey Street.
Earlier today 3fe held a free 'coffee cupping' event. Fourteen or so top quality beans were selected, and we the fortunate participants were shown how the cupping (smelling and tasting) process should be done. It's not your typical cup of coffee experience - we firstly used spoons to push back the grind at the top of each cup, sniffed the coffee, then removed the grind. After that everyone moved around tasting each of the coffees and writing comments on a blackboard.
As well as favourites such as El Bosque there were some more unusual coffees. Malabar beans are deliberately left exposed to monsoon winds to absorb moisture, giving the coffee a distinctive taste. That's nothing compared to the process used to create the (in)famous Kopi Lekwa, possibly the most expensive coffee in the world: the beans are partially digested by a small mammal called a civet before being washed, dried and lightly roasted. The resulting coffee has an aftertaste unlike any other I've experienced. It's nice, but I don't think I'll be making it my regular morning coffee.
At the end of the cupping 3fe sold off the almost-full bags of coffee used for the event. I nabbed the Nicagaguan El Quetzal for the low, low price of €5.
Colin Harmon and co. deserve all the acclaim they've received. As well as world-class, multi-award-winning baristas and high quality coffee, 3fe has an atmosphere unique in Dublin. It's not just a commercial enterprise; it's a gathering-place for many of Dublin's coffee experts and enthusiasts - sometimes it's hard to tell who are the staff and who are the customers. (The barista running the cupping session was in fact a customer-turned-employee.) And yet for all that, 3fe is also entirely accessible to the general public who just want a quick classic coffee in a convenient location.
Seriously, go get a 3fe coffee. I'd suggest a house-blend double espresso.
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