I. Heart. Coffee.

I. Heart. Coffee.

And I know I’m not alone.

I love the smell, I love the taste, I love the ceremony – I love the way it makes me feel, I love the comfort it brings, I love the promise it makes that life is good and will keep getting better.  Because that’s the power of coffee.

It was always and ever my first hot-beverage crush.  At my Granny’s house I would watch my more senior first cousins waltz in, eat brown bread and drink instant coffee kept in the press just for them.  They had perms and coloured their hair.  They wore mohair jumpers like Tiffany.  In my mind, everything they did amounted to utter sophistication and coffee was their coolest accessory.

We were never tea drinkers at home.  My mother surmises that it’s down to the simple fact they never really offered it to us.  When she was small, children were given tea from a very young age as milk was a comparatively pricey drink to be doling out to children in the  volumes required.  I’ve had two cups of tea in my lifetime – both handed to me by well-meaning people at funerals, both consumed out of sheer politeness.  (I would expect a vegetarian to step up and eat the ham sandwiches at a funeral.  It’s not the time or place to get fussy – you polish off what you’re handed).  That legendary, first post-baby cup of tea?  No thanks, happy to pass.

At work, it’s your saviour – a soothing companion to cling to in a meeting, an excuse to exhale and take five before settling into the next task, an ice-breaker for colleagues to get to know each other.  You meet good friends for coffee, you break up over coffee, you reflect and decide over coffee because coffee doesn’t need centre stage – it’s happy to play best supporting beverage to your life.  It’s there for you – one of the few things that makes the bad times bearable and the good times just a little better.  Coffee will never let you down.

Of course, gone are the days when espresso equated to ‘tiny normal coffee’.  We are spoilt rotten in Ireland with some absolutely beautiful places to purchase and enjoy a coffee and I like nothing better than getting my few pennies together and exchanging them for a made-for-me cup.  Yes, I know I can make my own coffee at home – Lord knows I do enough of that too.  But in a café there’s pomp and ceremony – steam, stirring, noise and clatter.  Don’t get me started on the insta-perfect coffee branding out there…  The entire process is just hard to beat.

Right now we live at least a 34-minute round-trip (by car) from any type of commercial coffee vendor – and that’s before we even start the process of shoe-finding, toddler-cajoling and arm-into-jacket wedging involved in going ‘to town’.  So.  When I do get out and I get to have a cup of coffee, I absolutely savour the event.  It makes me smile inside and out.

So, I thought I’d share some of my own  favourite coffee haunts – because even thinking about these places makes me happy and it’s no harm to spread the word.

Monty’s Café, Midleton, Co. Cork – Beautifully styled, super-friendly staff (shout out to my sister Claire who works there), amazing cakes baked there with love and outside seating which is especially enviable in the Summer.  Spot on.  Find them on Facebook.

The Tea Rooms at The Burren Perfumery, Carron, Co. Clare – Unbeatable for beauty, ambiance & peace, terrific food for the soul, perfect for refuelling mid shopping spree.  www.burrenperfumery.com

The Gallery Café, Gort, Co. Galway – Great food, great atmosphere – a real local hub in Gort.  They also do pizza.  ‘Nough said.  www.thegallerycafegort.com

Cork Coffee Roasters, Bridge Street, Cork City – Great view at the front window, super coffee, a real dose of Cork.  Particularly love that the place is totally buggy unfriendly.  Sorry!!!  www.corkcoffee.com

The Café at Fota House, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork – Eh, why is this place never absolutely mobbed?  Outstanding location – sit outside at one of the tables and you’ll feel like an extra on the site of Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley in Pride & Prejudice.  Kids can run free outside with no cars and lots of open green space.  Cakes made fresh in Fota House.  Go!  www.fotahouse.com

Orso, Pembroke Street, Cork City – Always such friendly staff, great food and a touch of total cool.  Whenever I get there it makes me feel all ‘urban chic’ for 5 minutes.  www.orso.ie

Lemon Jelly Café, Millennium Walkway, Dublin 1 – This place had only opened when I was living in then-desolate Smithfield.  I still love it.  Cool street view from the window benches, great coffee – and smoothies!  Groovy.  www.lemonjellycafe.ie

Árd Bia, The Spanish Arch, Galway City – I first visited here with my sister Evelyn when she was in college in Galway and Ard Bia was on Quay Street.  Today it’s just as brilliant – quality food, fabulously styled with a constant Sunday feeling.  Hard to beat.  www.ardbia.com

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