I get asked this question a lot.

Where can you get good coffee ?It’s such a hugely subjective topic. When answering, i feel some people are considering the cafe or restaurant environment, as opposed to evaluating the coffee as a single entity. They consider service, the price, the comfort of the seats etc etc. and these are all worthy contributors. So should the question be ‘what makes a good coffee experience ?’

Now we’re into a whole new ballpark.

I have always felt that if a property did everything reasonably good, as in, really good; friendly greeting, timely service, tasty food, some pleasant chit chat (or to know when to leave me alone), drinks served in the proper manner, ask how was everything and then wish me a good day, then the combination of these will make the experience excellent. It’s the sum of the parts.

When it comes to coffee though, things can get very complicated. I visited the Irish barista championships last week, as I do every year. I was shocked to see that Badger and Dodo were the only Irish roasters represented in the finals.

And this is a statement of where Irish suppliers of coffee beans are at.  Bewleys, in my opinion are a brand in decline, and Java are the new Bewleys, mopping up the hotel accounts and push button bean to cup market. And then we have a host of let’s say ‘coffee importers’ bringing in stock piled coffee and sending the bulk of the money for this outside our country.

The reality is the general public are far more discerning when it comes to coffee these days. Yes it used to be about the ‘overall experience’ as mentioned above, but now we are looking for latte art, bean origin, single origins, freshly roasted, freshly ground, blends, and this is just the start of it.

For me, and my day to day work with coffee culture, its great to see the evolution of coffee.

Our training courses in coffee making (barista skills to be more specific) are more and more popular. And this is great to see. People are bypassing the easy option nespresso and investing in proper home espresso machines and even making the move towards v60, aeropress and chemex.

So where can you get a good coffee? My advice is to get your fix where you can see they care about what they offer.

There are some questions you can ask and some “must do’s” – is it roasted in Ireland (a must do these days) – where and when we’re the beans roasted (no longer than 4 weeks ago) – are they grinding to order (absolutely imperative) – do they at least try to get the latte art on cappuccino’s and or latte’s (one of the most difficult parts) – do they employ a barista (a complete giveaway – any barista worth their salt won’t touch a cafe where their coffee offering fall outside these parameters)

This is just the start of it. When you find a place that makes coffee in these ways tell me.

Enjoy. Alan