COFFEE IN CORK
Coffee in Cork in the past few years has really progressed from what it used to be, which involved businesses not knowing their product. You can’t really blame them as they were never properly educated on it. You basically ended up in a shop that served you stale, over roasted coffee made by someone who hadn’t been properly trained.
In the last few years I have seen certain businesses catching on to the idea of speciality coffee. With competition from speciality cafes sprouting up in Cork you can see why the the old guard need to up their game. It’s fine for your average Joe who just wants a tasty cup of Joe, But for your above average Joe who wants his delectable cup of Joe you have to search for these speciality cafes and they’re not that hard to find… to name a few:
• Filter espresso & brew bar – George’s Quay
• Alchemy – Barrack Street
• The Rocket Man – Princes’ Street
• Gulpd – Tobin Street
The list goes on but what all these shops have in common is that they all respect the art of coffee making and they put the time and effort into making it not just a cup of coffee but something you will thoroughly enjoy and definitely be back for.
The other thing these types of cafes have in common is sourcing coffee from local Irish roasters like The Golden Bean, Badger & Dodo and Third Floor Espresso (3FE) who put a lot of thought into sourcing their beans from reliable and sustainable sources, and spending time perfecting their roast so it has the perfect balance of body, sweetness and acidity.
There’s a lot we don’t know about coffee before it gets to our cup so here’s a little insight for you.
The farmers who grow the coffee only get one major harvest a year and this crop can take between 3 to 4 years after planting for it to bear the fruit of the coffee plant (coffee cherries).
Then you have harvesting, which in most countries is done by hand and is a very labor intensive process. In some countries like Brazil, where their landscape is flatter, the process has been mechanized but the majority still hand pick their coffee.
Then we have processing which must start immediately after the harvest to prevent spoilage. Depending on local resources coffee is processed in one of two ways:
~The dry method (usually used in countries where water resources are limited): the freshly picked cherries are spread out on large surfaces to dry naturally in the sun and raked throughout the day to prevent them from spoiling. This process can take several weeks. When the moisture content of the coffee reaches 11% the cherries are then ready to be stored.
~The wet method: firstly the freshly picked cherries are passed through a pulping machine where the pulp and skin are separated from the bean. Next they are passed through rotating drums which separate them by size.
After separation the beans are placed in large water filled fermentation tanks, depending on certain factors (climate, altitude etc.) they will remain in these tanks for 12-48 hours, The purpose of this is to remove a layer of mucilage that is still attached the bean, which is taken care of by naturally occurring enzymes in the water. After that the beans are dried. They are either sun dried on large tables or floors or machine dried in large tumblers. Then the coffee is milled and ready for export.
Exporting: The milled beans (which are now called green bean) are loaded onto ships for transport to the importing country. Approximately seven million tons of green bean is produced worldwide each year.
The Roasting comes next: Roasting transforms the pale green bean into a lovely brown aromatic bean which we can then consume. When roasted the beans are kept moving throughout the whole process in a large drum to stop them from burning. When they reach the roasters’ desired roast profile they are then removed from the roasting drum and placed on a cooling tray to stop the roasting process so they don’t get over roasted. It only takes a matter of seconds to over roast coffee so you gotta be on your toes.
This coffee is then sent as soon as possible to the cafes which will do it justice.
Now that baristas and cafe owners know what this coffee has been through to get to them and that they’re the final step in the process of this coffee’s life I’d suspect you’re going to receive a damn good cuppa.
Choosing which roastery you prefer can only be done by sampling them all, but here’s a little info to get you on your way.
The Golden Bean are a Cork based roastery situated in Shanagarry. Their style of roasting is definitely distinct as they go more towards the fuller bodied coffees which are smooth and well rounded. You can expect flavours like chocolate, hazelnut, honey and dried fruits. Depending on the origin these flavours can differ.
Badger & Dodo are situated in Fermoy, They have grown exponentially in the last few years supplying cafes all over the country. Expect a bit more fruitiness and acidity from them. Not all their coffees are this way as it depends on the origin but generally speaking their style is a bit brighter in flavour profile.
Third Floor Espresso (3FE) are located in Dublin and are doing great things in the coffee industry, not saying that the above aren’t, obviously. You can expect some really vibrant coffees with some out there flavour profiles. So if you’re looking for something that little bit different give them a go.
Filter espresso & brew bar stock all the above roasteries and have a wide selection for your espresso based coffee, filter or wholesale bags of coffee. They also serve homemade pastries and sandwiches from food company IN.TO.FOOD and cakes from Diva. This is a lovely cafe with an energetic friendly feel to it.
Filter – Stephen O’Byrne (barista)
Alchemy are new enough to the scene, serving up coffee from Third Floor Espresso. This is more of a chilled out place where you can read a huge selection of books which they also stock.
Alchemy – Michelle (barista)
The Rocket Man is not essentially a Cafe but they do serve delicious take away coffee from The Golden Bean and a huge variety of salads, juices and other feel good food stuffs.
The Rocket Man – Eamon (head barista)
Gulpd is another nice spot for a cup, serving up The Golden Bean and another roastery which I didn’t mention above called Mojo, who are based in Wicklow. They also have a lovely outdoor area in front of the christchurch where you can bask in the sun… when it’s there anyway.
Gulpd – Sam (head barista)
Another little random place for a great coffee outside of the city is Palmento in Douglas. I Went in there for one of their delectable pizza’s and was pleasantly surprised with an espresso from 3FE. They will be opening very soon for brunch and lunch so keep your eyes open for that.
Palmento – Cecci McVee (barista)
It’s a great time to be a coffee nut in Cork and things can only get better so go exploring and see what tickles your fancy.