Roasted Brown at Dublin Coffee Festival 2024

Roasted Brown at Dublin Coffee Festival 2024.

I thought it was worth doing a little piece on the coffee festival last weekend, it’s one of those rare experiences where you feel the afterglow for a few days, almost like the post-camp feeling when you were a kid but without the blues!

It’s not like us to enter these things, we’ve always just kept the head down and worked on our product in hope that the result would build the brand. It’s been a successful approach and one of the main benefits is that no-one feels like we’re trying to sell them anything. If you discover us and you like us, then we’re most likely a good fit! 

So why did Roasted Brown have a stand at the Dublin Coffee Festival? 

Well a few reasons and none of them include building our wholesale customer base - this in itself took weight off our shoulders and allowed us to just show up, be ourselves, hang out and hand out coffees that we’ve worked hard on over the years and see where they land.

We thought it was important as one of the early specialty coffee shops and roasters in the city to be there. 

Many of Dublin and Ireland's finest coffee people began their journey in our shop and others like ours, or in a brew class or in a customer's coffee shop and progressed from there. It was amazing to walk around the room and see people who began their journey in our Temple Bar coffee shop and move onto being either roasters themselves, shop owners, trainers and even green bean importers, it’s incredible. 

The scene has changed dramatically and as an operation and brand that tends to be covert in its approach we thought it was important to pop our head up, be in the corner like a lamp and shine a warm light on where some of the journey began for so many.

I think there were less than 10 roasters in Ireland (that I knew of) when we began roasting and also maybe only 3 or 4 coffee shops brewing coffee with passion and skill with various brew methods. I’m not sure how accurate it is but someone mentioned there are now over 300 roasters in Ireland now…I mean…that’s both amazing and mind blowing!



How the scene has developed…

It’s a very wonderful mixed bag, there’s the OG's and there’s very much a new school too. There’s the ones who’ve been doing great things for a long time and a short time, the ones who changed lane sometime in the last few years from commercial to specialty, the new kids on the block who either served their time in other companies and started their own thing, and we couldn’t forget those who have landed out of nowhere, cape on back, kettle in hand and eyes fixed on the closest mirror, microphone or maceration.

It comes in all shapes and sizes from the grass roots and purists, to the shape shifters and big egos…all a lot of fun to be around, lots of mingling, loving, back stabbing, hugging! Lots of education and important discussions on and off stage, some important, enlightening and necessary topics and the odd little mic grab to virtue-signal and subtly diss a competitor or two!

All in all, what was loud and clear is Dublin and Ireland is absolutely thriving when it comes to great coffee, great people, great motivation behind sourcing and supply and an absolute force to be reckoned with in terms of really good coffee making it’s way across the land into what used to be the most unsuspecting places. 

That being said I think there could easily be a Cork, Galway or Belfast coffee festival amongst others and don’t think for a second that Dublin is the beating heart of specialty coffee, it may be the longest running and had a head start on a few things but judging by the sheer mix and mass of travellers who made a visit we have a country thick with great coffee and coffee lovers.

We’ve seen a lot of commercial roasters enter the specialty coffee scene over the years, these would be roasters who bought solely or a significant chunk of commodity and commercial grade coffee until recent years. This is due to where the market is going which is great to see and also due to price of commercial coffee doubling in recent years so you may as well buy specialty grade, but one things for sure, people want to drink tasty drinks, it’s a booming market and there’s plenty businesses meeting the market.

We’ve seen brew bars like the original 3fe, Vice and the Roasted Brown type shops make a tiny comeback, this is so great to see and such an asset to the city, and I for one love that I can go to a few places in Dublin again and order a pour over of something that deserves time and passion and let my taste buds geek out while I tap away on my laptop! I’ll happily drop a 20 on this experience!



What was missing?…

There was some things missing, some things I’m glad were missing and other things…well…I missed… 

What I’m glad was missing was the big commercial sponsors and brands…this was a solid independent, small Irish producers and enthusiasts event and it was bloody lovely! 

I got to meet roasters I’d only heard of and tasted coffee from but never had a hug or a handshake with. 

We got to bond, do each other favours, share drinks and vow to “see you again soon hopefully”.

The brown shiny shoes weren’t there and although they were missing, they weren’t missed.

This event had a glow of the early days when passionate people were doing what they loved and were loving others doing it too. This particularly came across through the Extracted Development competition. It was relaxed and accessible and had a real “give a bash” spirit about it. I loved this, it’s a great way to give something a go and perhaps realise a level passion a barista didn’t know they had nor where it could lead. Coffee comps have in many ways become the weapon of choice for big companies to get their name in the specialty arena and as a marketing strategy for roasters, and some have become competitions for those with the most expensive coffee and deepest pockets but this reminded me of the days the scene was breaking in London and Dublin with late night throw downs and pure passion-lead coffee community events which leads to something else that was missing…

Some of the OG’s…I know people are busy and it’s very hard to do all the things, I just don’t easily forget those who are almost fully responsible for where we are with coffee in this country. People and businesses that blew this gate open and shone a light so bright it literally changed our lives. I don’t know why they weren’t there, maybe they missed the invite, maybe they’ve become disillusioned (as I have off and on over the years) or maybe they were watching the first Formula One of the season…legit reason!…But I missed them - I missed Colin from 3fe, Tom from Vice/Wigmam, Paul from Marco, Karl from Coffee Angel, Brian from Awesome Coffee Beans, Pete from 3fE/Hasbean (or wherever you are now)! It was a lovely event and would‘ve been lovelier with them there. There was a slight feeling we were having a party but we didn’t have the cake…maybe its’ been eaten but I for one like to eat my cake and still have it! 

We missed ya chaps, throw your head in next time!

What I’d add next year…

We would’ve loved to see a few coffee shops with stands or spots. Perhaps the thought of being bombarded with roasters offering to be a guest on your bar (aka trying to win you as a wholesale account) was enough of a turn off but these are the places on the ground, in the shops, completing the last link in the coffee journey, and it would’ve been so cool to have them showcase in some capacity. Shops like Flower and Bean, Happy Out, Unfiltered, Network etc where you can have a coffee made by a focussed brewer who makes thousands of coffees a week and has all the info and the know-how in terms of a brew and an origin or process. After all, these are the daily coffee scene, the ritual…the everyday festival.

Huge thanks to Hanna, Cup North, Extracted Development and La Marzocco for seeing what’s in Ireland and bringing us together, we had a blast and probably wouldn’t have organised it ourselves!



What we had on the bar…

Finally, for us this was about doing what we’ve always done. In Temple Bar we always had something a little wild on espresso and filter but have always worked hard to make sure balance and sweetness are high on the list. 

At the festival we did similar to see how the appetite is now in a coffee world that seems divided between Brazilian Naturals on one side and bonkers carbonate maceration, thermal shot lunacy on the other!

We wanted to bring sweetness, acidity, body, and balance and showcase how dynamic good solid coffees can be without going into crazy vinegar, beef broth, permanent marker, cow shite and babies nappy territory!!

1. Costa Rica, El Diamanté: 

To showcase an Anaerobic coffee with balance we used Costa Rica El Diamanté Natural Anaerobic. In our opinion this has alway been and still is one of the best examples of an anaerobic process that still tastes like its origin but has a balanced kick of the anaerobic process to bring something super pleasant and moreish. We roasted this separately for espresso and for the filter and it went down such a treat with festival guests, roasters, green importers and competition winners and q-graders alike.

You can grab a bag for your espresso machine here and a bag for filter brewing here 

2. Ethiopia, Bombe Kontema Natural:

We’ve always loved a boozy natural on espresso and always had them on our bar. Peoples reaction to the sheer sweet fruity espresso never grows old and through milk the Turkish delight and vanilla ice cream is what we call “look at the cup” good! When we were a smaller roastery we used have these coffees on house espresso but being micro lots it became unsustainable for us to get enough supply but they’re up online for use at home through your Sage and also on the bar in the wonderful shops that have 2 espresso options for house and micro lot.

Grab a bag for your espresso machine here

3. Kenya, Gakuyuini Washed AA

We had this on filter alongside El Diamante and Oh my word was it a hit?! Our good friend Bara from Falcon Coffees propped herself up at the end of the bar and polished off close to 2 Chemex jugs all by herself on Saturday morning! Sweet blackcurrant Kenyans has been a constant pursuit for us since our first time having Kamwangi AA on our bar in 2015. It’s been increasingly hard to find them but we struck lucky on this one and we sold bucket loads at the festival.

If you’re brewing filter at home grab a bag here

Written by Ferg Brown

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