Highlights from the Dublin Coffee Festival

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos courtesy of Cup North

The inaugural Dublin Coffee Festival, presented by Cup North, marked a significant milestone in the city’s coffee culture. On March 1-3, The Complex in the hip neighborhood of Smithfield buzzed with excitement as coffee enthusiasts and industry professionals gathered to celebrate their love for coffee, innovation, and community spirit.

Returning to the city where my own passion for specialty coffee first ignited as a barista, I was thrilled to witness Ireland’s flourishing coffee scene. Let’s take a look at what happened during the inaugural Dublin Coffee Festival.

Two people talk at an Oatly oat milk booth.
Visitors immersed themselves in the vibrant offerings of the Dublin Coffee Festival, engaging with the wide range of exhibitors.

Igniting the Dublin Coffee Festival Weekend

The festival kicked off with Industry Day on Friday, offering a sneak peek into the world of coffee for professionals. As the day drew to a close, a launch party took center stage, igniting the weekend with a vibrant blend of entertainment, games, vegan food, refreshing drinks, and enticing opportunities to win an array of goodies.

Throughout the weekend, attendees were immersed in a diverse program of talks and panels covering a range of topics essential to the specialty-coffee industry. From a bespoke guide to cupping and individual sensory analysis to discussions on direct trade, coffee pricing, and the importance of coffee community, each session offered unique insights and perspectives. 

Additionally, festival attendees were invited to explore the festival’s tasting room for a guided sensory experience led by industry experts. Here, they had the opportunity to connect with roasters and green importers presenting a selection of coffees sourced from around the globe. Complementing this experience were interactive workshops designed to inspire and enlighten, leaving attendees buzzing with newfound insights into the world of specialty coffee.

A group of six judges.
Extracted Development judges share insights on the judging experience at the Dublin Coffee Festival.

Extracted Development Takes Center Stage

The heart of the festival was undoubtedly the Extracted Development coffee competition. Talented baristas and roasters teamed up to showcase their skills, while attendees had the opportunity to engage with competitors and sample competition coffees at the brew bar. What set this competition apart for me was its notably relaxed atmosphere, providing a stark contrast to the sometimes tense environment of other competitions I’ve observed. 

Here, attendees were not only spectators but active participants, engaging with competitors and sampling their competition coffees at the brew bar. This interactive format allowed the audience to feel connected to the event in a meaningful way. Moreover, the unique opportunity for the audience to cast their votes for their favorite team added an exciting element to the competition, further enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved.

The presentation of awards recognized excellence in various categories, including the Best Espresso Experience, Best Plant-Based Beverage Experience, Best Filter Experience, Audience Favorite award, and Overall Extracted Development Champion, which went to the team of barista Ally Keegan and roaster Gabriel Tudorin.

The rules and regulations of the Extracted Development competition were designed with the realities of brewing in a café environment in mind.

Diversity in Drinks and Activities at the Festival

The exhibitors area was a bustling hub of activity, featuring roasters, importers, and other industry players. From established brands to up-and-comers, there was a diverse array of offerings to explore. Visitors sampled a variety of filter and espresso drinks, cold brew, teas, and plant-based ice cream. 

The festival’s commitment to inclusivity was evident in its efforts to welcome attendees from all walks of life, including families with young children. Special activities tailored for kids, coupled with free admission for those under 16 (with pre-registration required), ensured a family-friendly atmosphere. 

Children were invited to participate in the Dublin Coffee Festival Passport program, where they could collect stamps from each stand, and receive a special present upon completion. Additionally, coffee-themed coloring sheets allowed children to express their creativity and enjoy a memorable weekend with their families, further enhancing the festival’s appeal to a diverse audience.

Local brand shareclub offered a free cup rental service. The brand provides circular packaging options for events, catering and takeaway services.

Cup North’s Inclusive Legacy Across the UK

As part of show organizer Cup North’s Community Partner program, 6% of all ticket sales were donated to support Farmers’ Voice Radio and a local charity. In a bid to reduce environmental impact, the festival also embraced a paper-cup-free policy, encouraging visitors to bring their reusable cups or utilize the free cup rental service provided by the local brand shareclub. Conveniently located cup rinsing stations were available throughout the venue, ensuring a sustainable coffee-sampling experience for all attendees.

Cup North’s legacy of inclusive specialty-coffee events, spanning from Manchester to Birmingham, continues to inspire and unite coffee enthusiasts across the United Kingdom. Experiencing their commitment to inclusivity firsthand at the Dublin Coffee Festival was an amazing experience. I look forward to their upcoming Birmingham event on July 5-7, anticipating another chance to celebrate and engage with the local coffee community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work.

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