My job not only involves a fair bit of travelling but also at least once a week (if not more) for the last four years, I’ve been in coffee shops in Cork with students to study the Bible, pray and share life together. So with that knowledge, I’m piecing together my top 10 coffee shops in the Cork city area (those outside the city to follow), in no particular order:
- Tara’s Tea Rooms
Ok, so this one (as the name suggests) is more suited to tea drinkers, but still does a good coffee, beautiful cakes and decent lunches. Don’t be put off by the feminine décor – many an hour has been spent there with working friends in overalls! Sat in the centre of MacCurtain Street, Tara’s Tea Rooms is a fun people watching spot too.
- Cork Coffee Roasters
It’s known by all, loved by most, and so fits into this list not as something that particularly excites me, but because it really has to be there. The coffee is great, but until recently when they opened up a second shop with more seating in French Church Street, it’s small, quiet demeanor never grabbed me. But perhaps that’s part of the charm.
- Alchemy, Barrack Street
Arguably my local, this recent add to Cork’s coffee hang-outs provides the best of second-hand books, quirky decor and beautiful coffee. It’s tight for space but always makes for a chance to meet someone interesting or people-watch secretly from behind a book.
- Farmgate Café, English Market
The English Market is a must visit if you’re old or new to Cork, and the Farmgate café gives you a chance to look down on the world and enjoy the smells, sounds and sights of one of Cork’s most famous places
- Blackrock Castle Observatory
Probably requiring a short drive or bus from the city centre, the castle now functions as a space observatory for Cork Institute of Technology. Set on the banks of the Lee, there’s miles of flat coastal tarmac path to cycle or walk before or after your walk. At low tide the view may deteriorate a tad, but it’s still worth a visit. This used to be part of my marathon training routes and still a great place to run.
- O’Conail’s, French Church Street
Hot Chocolate Heaven! But even if you don’t drink any of the 40 or so options of hot chocolate, like me, you’ll find the street a perfect spot to quietly chill and watch the locals go about their day’s work.
- The BookShelf, South Mall
Voted into the top ten by my graduate interns, this quaint setting (accessed just off South Mall) has a beautiful little private area up the stairs. But be quick in getting it!
- Café Rio, River Lee
Sit outside or enjoy a brisk walk by the weir before/after coffee, this delightful, unknown little spot could cost you 2 euro for your parking, but is worth it, if the weather is good.
- The Coffee Dock, UCC O’Rahilly Building
Chosen because it’s sadly the only place around UCC that does good coffee (sorry to those who refuse to call Starbucks coffee good), the coffee dock really just gives you an excuse to explore the marvellous old quadrangle aula maxima and ogham writings on ancient Irish stones. Take your coffee to go and sit out in the mini amphitheatre in front of the Honan Chapel or in front of the quad where George Boole himself would have sat.
- Web Workhouse Café, Winthrop Street
Coffee 24/7 at the heart of Cork with a bonus chocolate thrown in with every order. Not the place for a private chat but a little nook worth popping to at any time of day or night, regardless of whether it’s at 3am after a night out, at 8am before work or a midday catch-up
And a brucey bonus: Gulpd Cafe
Crafted into the Triskel Arts Centre, Gulpd provides a quiet spot for a lazy morning or a great place for a buzzing pre-show coffee/wine before a gig or film in the Triskel itself. It wouldn’t be anything without exploring what you were sitting in!