Coffee culture has well and truly taken hold in Ireland over the past decade. But with the price of a flat white now firmly established at over €3, thanks in part to the recent VAT increase, it matters more than ever whether it's any good or not. Too often what should be a small occasion of joy turns out to be a bitter disappointment.
While there are many cafés and restaurants throughout the country that serve great coffee, the list below concentrates - in no particular order - on the establishments where getting the espressos and pour-overs just right is the number one priority. We plan to focus on cafés in another feature soon.
Inevitably, Dublin has more than its fair share of great coffee shops, so almost half of our list is made up of establishments based in the capital. But Cork is not far behind, and there are seriously good contenders popping up all over the country.
1 Three Fools
The Three Fools roast their own coffee which is available wholesale and online. Their own shop on Cork's Grand parade has a reputation for serving excellent espresso and brew coffees, and cheerful service. Plenty of advice for those wanting to make great coffee at home.
Find it: Grand Parade, Cork city, see threefoolscoffee.ie
2 Cork Coffee Roasters
John and Anna Gowan are first and foremost coffee roasters, but also barista-educators, who roast their high-grown, Arabic green beans on a traditional cast iron coffee roaster built in the 1930s. They say that this may not be the most efficient way of roasting coffee, "but it is gentle, it takes time and it takes the human touch". The proof is in the drinking.
Find it: Two locations, see corkcoffeeroasters.ie
"Coffee on the hop," it says on the side, and Chris Broderick's little van, based in Carrigaline, crops up in various different locations in the area. "The guy is from Melbourne and is so sound he might as well be Irish, plus he knows his coffee," says one regular.
Find it: Mobile coffee van, see Facebook/KangaBrew
4 Dukes Coffee Company
Aidan Dukes has been in business since 2005, before coffee became quite as trendy as it is now. He works with local roasters including Golden Bean, Badger & Dodo and Roasting House, as well as 'superstar' roasters such as 3fe. Dukes baristas are trained to get to know each coffee and how to get the personality out of each and every bean.
Find it: Two locations, Cork city, see dukes.ie
5 Soma Coffee
Cork's coolest coffee shop is Soma, owned by Irene and Damien Twohig and Alex Bruce. Michelin-starred chef, Takashi Miyazaki, is just one of the regulars who shows up for a daily fix of brews from roasters such as West Cork Coffee, Dark Arts and Koppi.
Find it: Tuckey Street, Cork city, see Facebook/SomaCoffeeCompany
A destination for serious coffee drinkers, Eoin MacCarthy and Alex O'Callaghan stock a selection of Irish-roasted beans, including from 3fe and Cloudpicker, as well as other guest blends and a fine array of kit for obsessives.
Find it: 19 Georges Quay, Cork city, see @FilterCork on Twitter
Alchemy is a Cork institution. It serves 3fe coffee and welcomes dogs - a winning combination. The cakes are good too.
Find it: 123 Barrack Street, Cork city, see @AlchemyCoffee on Instagram
8 The Heron Café
This family-run coffee shop in Fermoy is a popular meeting place serving locally roasted specialty coffee from Badger & Dodo. Espresso-based and Chemex options available.
Find it: 19 Pearse Square, Fermoy, see @TheHeronCafe on Instagram
Food writer Trish Deseine says that Budd's keeps her and all the other locals nicely "caffeinated all year round," with its locally roasted Badger & Dodo coffee.
Find it: Ballydehob, see budds.ie
10 O'Neill Coffee
Located in Ms O Neill's former grocery shop in Skibbereen, West Cork, O'Neill Coffee serves locally roasted coffee from West Cork Coffee and guest brands such as Red Strand and Fjord from Berlin. There are sweet and savoury accompaniments on offer too.
Find it: Skibbereen, see oneillcoffee.ie
11 Butlers Chocolate Café
Butlers may be a chain but it serves great coffee. The medium roast house blend is 100pc Arabica, with flavours of sweet dried stone fruits and toasted almond, and a rich dark chocolate after-taste. For regulars, the Happiness card means that every tenth coffee is free. And you get a free chocolate.
Find it: Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork city - also in Galway, Limerick and throughout Dublin, see butlerschocolates.com
12 The Shack
Overlooking the Blue Flag Marble Hill beach, The Shack roasts its own coffee beans and comes into its own in good weather. No extra charge for the magnificent views.
Find it: Marble Hill, Dunfanaghy, see Facebook/TheShack
13 Caffe Banba
The most northerly coffee shop in the country, Caffe Banba is a small family business that trades from two mobile coffee shops equipped with serious Fracino Espresso coffee machines. From Easter to September you'll find one at Banba's Crown, the very northern tip of Ireland, and another around events, festivals and beaches on the Inishowen peninsula.
Find it: Malin Head, see caffebanba.com
Sisters Mealla, Hannah, and Norabeth Tarrant learned their barista skills abroad, including in Melbourne, the home of coffee culture, and are beloved by SoCoDu locals. Hatch serves 3fe coffee.
Find it: 4 Glasthule Road, Glasthule, Co Dublin, see hatchcoffee.ie
15 Ground State
Located close to St. James' Hospital - and a salvation for people working there, who had nowhere to buy good coffee until it opened last year - Ground State morphs into a yoga studio by night. The beans are sourced from Colonna Coffee in the UK, and the Nicaraguan espresso from Jesus Mountain Marsellesa is the current favourite.
Find it: 48-50 James Street, Dublin 8, see groundstated8.com
"Hipster with a heart, consistently well-made coffee, and the beats and bants are mighty without being overwhelmingly loud. Kaph is welcoming, friendly and importantly they don't say normal milk to mean dairy." That's one customer's glowing review of their favourite coffee shops. A favourite with social media legend James Kavanagh (flat white with oat milk please).
Find it: Drury Street, Dublin 2, see kaph.ie
17 Vice Coffee INC
Located inside Wigwam, Vice features a number of roasters from Ireland and abroad, including Squaremile, Bailies, Calendar, Roundhill, 3fe, Coffee Collective, Upside, Friedhats and others. As well as coffee, there's a range of coffee-based cocktails for when caffeine alone is not enough. Find it: 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, see vicecoffeeinc.com
18 Proper Order
The house coffee here is Red Brick from Square Mile Roasters in East London, a smooth, rich blend with notes of milk chocolate, butterscotch and tangerine. The vibe is cheerful and friendly.
Find it: 7 Haymarket, Arran Quay, Dublin 7, see properordercoffeeco.com
The mothership of Dublin's coffee culture, 3fe is where it all began and is still a mecca for coffee anoraks. For the uninitiated, 3fe can be intimidating, but the coffee is so good that it's worth persevering through the shame of ignorance. Owner Colin Harmon wrote the book - literally - on running coffee shops. It's called What I Know About Running Coffee Shops. 3fe supplies coffee to many cafés around the country as well as its own; if you spot it on the menu, it's a sign that the establishment takes its coffee seriously.
Find it: Various branches, see 3fe.com
20 Reference Coffee
Co-owned with everyone's favourite breakfast/brunch spot, Meet Me In The Morning (next door), and wine bar, Loose Canon (on Drury Street), Reference Coffee uses beans from a few different roasteries including Colonna and Bailies and makes a mean cinnamon swirl.
Find it: 49 Pleasants Street, Dublin 8, see Facebook/ ReferenceCoffee
21 Coffee Angel
Karl Purdy's Coffee Angel house espresso, Fórsa Gála, is a medium-bodied blend of seasonally rotating coffees using 100pc Arabica beans. Tasting notes say to expect notes of milk chocolate and red currants with a syrupy mouth-feel. It's as good in an espresso as it is with milk.
Find it: Various locations, see coffeeangel.com
22 Lilliput Stores
Lovely Lilliput Stores serves Ariosa coffee, and you can pick up a sandwich for lunch or a few bits and pieces for dinner while you're waiting for yours to be ready. Or sit out the back and relax.
Find it: 5 Rosemount Terrace, Arbour Hill, Dublin 7, see lilliputstores.com
Great coffee and a sense of community - Nick's is a Ranelagh institution that serves free coffee to over-65s; locals say that it's a great place to catch up with the gossip. Nurses, paramedics and members of the emergency services in uniform pay just €1 for all hot drinks.
Find it: 22 Ranelagh, Dublin 6, see @NicksCoffeeCo on Twitter
24 Twofifty Square
Serving a range of espresso and filter coffees, TwoFifty Square roasts its own beans on the premises in the middle of Rathmines. If you opt for AeroPress, you can choose between three different kinds of water. Fancy. Their new location is Project Black in Ranelagh.
Find it: Williams Park, Rathmines, Dublin 6, see twofiftysquare.ie
25 Ebb & Flow
Deservedly popular with locals, Ebb & Flow serves expertly crafted espresso and batch brews supplied by Full Circle Roasters, with Cracked Nut and Camerino supplying the sweet accompaniments.
Find it: 56 Clontarf Road, Dublin 3, see ebbandflow.ie
26 Two Beans
Dun Laoghaire folk love Two Beans, serving a seasonally changing range of espresso and filter specialty coffees, all sourced according to Two Beans' strict ethical standards. These people take their coffee seriously - and it shows. Very good.
Find it: 11 Lower Georges Street, Dun Laoghaire, see twobeans.ie
27 Honey Hone Café
The specialty coffee at this little Portmarnock gem comes from Bailies coffee roasters in Belfast. As well as being sourced ethically and sustainably, it also tastes gorgeous.
Find it: Strand Road, Portmarnock, see honeyhoneycafe.com
28 Bear market
Architects-turned-coffee shop owners, Stephen and Ruth Deasy started out in Blackrock and now have four locations. They serve a special blend of coffee roasted for them each week in Dublin, and each member of their staff is a trained barista. Bear Market's customers - from those needing a quick-fix on the way to work to the true coffee experts - are devoted.
Find it: Various locations, see bearmarket.ie
29 Happy Out
If you've witnessed the queues at Happy Out, located in a repurposed shipping container beside Dollymount beach, you'll have figured out that there's something special about its coffee. The specialty coffees are locally roasted by Roasted Brown; the location makes them taste even better.
Find it: Bull Island, Dublin 3, see happyout.ie
30 Coffee 2 Go
You could be forgiven for thinking that Dublin's coffee scene only kicked off in the last five years, but Coffee 2 Go beside Baggot St Bridge has been around for far longer than that. The cars pulled up on the double yellows outside all day long, risking the attention of Mespil Road's crack team of clampers, is testament to the fact that the coffee tastes great.
Find it: 79 Mespil Road, Dublin 4, see coffee2go.ie
31 Sasha House Petite
"Doesn't charge extra for plant milk and generous with advice about blends and flavours," says one devoted customer. The beans come from Sasha's own micro-roastery and the pastries are excellent. Less hipster than most of the coffee shops in the city centre.
Find it: Drury Street Carpark, Dublin 2, see shpetite.ie
32 Thru the Green
Dublin's only drive-thru coffee shop serves immaculate coffee sourced fairly and sustainably from small crops in Columbia. Skilled baristas and great beans make for happy customers.
Find it: Windy Arbour, Dundrum, Dublin 14, see thruthegreencoffeeco.com
33 Love Supreme
Love Supreme serves coffee roasted by Koppi in Sweden and makes a delectable range of cakes and pastries - not to mention epic sausage rolls - in its on-site bakery. A Stoneybatter landmark, with a special place in the hearts of D7 folk.
Find it: 57 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7, see lovesupreme.ie
34 Coffeewerk & Press
This rather lovely little shop is part-gallery, part-beautifully created homeware shop and part-coffee shop. Lots of nice coffee accessories too, and beans from Calendar and others.
Find it: 4 Quay Street, Galway, see coffeewerkandpress.com
35 Urban Grind
A destination for Galway's coffee cohort, Urban Grind serves AeroPress filter coffee from 3fe, Clifton Coffee and Koppi amongst others, and a full range of coffee equipment and publications.
Find it: 8 William Street West, see urbangrind.ie
The Burgess family's smart little coffee shop in Dingle is as popular with locals as it is with visitors. Justin and his team of baristas take their specialty coffee seriously and it shows. Also in Dingle, My Boy Blue serves 3fe coffee.
Find it: Green Street, Dingle, see beanindingle.com
37 Maison Gourmet
A little outpost of France in Kerry, Maison Gourmet serves organic freshly roasted coffee from Java Republic and lovely pastries.
Find it: Kenmare, see Facebook/MaisonGourmet
38 PS Roasters
Brothers Peter and Simon McCormack have their own micro-roastery in Naas and last year opened a second specialty coffee shop in Clane. "Beautiful flavours and vibe," says one fan, "Simon and Peter live and breathe roasting." The brothers import their own Fair Trade beans and source sustainably.
Find it: Clane and Naas, see pscoffeeroasters.ie
The small café and coffee roasters in the heart of Newbridge is everything that a local café should be.
Find it: 2-4 George's Street, Piercetown, Newbridge, see ubh.ie
40 Brewery Coffee House
Serving coffee from 3fe, The Barn Berlin, Dark Arts, Square Mile and Sweet Shop, the tiny Brewery Coffee House takes its coffee seriously - to good effect and the delight of locals.
Find it: Straffan Road, Maynooth, see Facebook/BreweryCoffee
41 Rift Coffee
This small multi-roaster coffee shop is focussed on quality, tastiness and sustainability, with a regularly changing suite of different espresso and pour-over coffees on offer. It's always busy. Canteen on Catherine Street is another option, with more of a focus on food but also serving great coffee. Further along is Stormy Espresso, a local favourite.
Find it: 30 Mallow Street, see riftcoffee.com
42 Ariosa Coffee
"Brilliant super friendly service, passionate team, excellent products and they've brought a new energy to the town of Drogheda," say Patrick Hanlon and Russell Alford aka The Gastro Gays. Endorsements don't get better than that.
Find it: 1 St Laurence Street, Drogheda, see ariosacoffee.com
43 Osta Coffee
"Local food, friendly faces, and fab coffee," says one regular. The coffee is prepared by trained baristas using an ethically sourced, Fairtrade and organic mix of Mexican and Peruvian Arabica, freshly roasted and blended in Dublin by Java Republic. Osta makes its milky coffees with a blend from Westport-based BeanWest Coffee.
Find it: Garavogue Weir, off Stephen Street, Sligo, see osta.ie
44 Hearts Desire
Tony Conway's smart barista bar uses beans from The Art of Coffee. Modestly, its social media hashtag is #bestcoffeeinSligo.
Find it: Stephen Street Car Park, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo, see Facebook/Hearts.Desire.311
Surfer hangout Shells uses hand-roasted beans from McCabes in Co Wicklow and all coffees are made with a double shot as standard, which must help with the big waves.
Find it: Shore Road, Strandhill, see shellscafe.com
46 Old Barracks Roastery
Billing itself as "the destination for the coffee curious," the Old Barracks offers up to 10 coffees each day and has invested in Europe's first gravimetric (no, we're not sure either but it sounds impressive) Modbar coffee machine technology. The layout is configured to remove all barriers between barista and customer to encourage conversation.
Coffee anorak heaven.
Find it: Birdhill, see theoldbarracks.ie
47 Bia & Brew
Trá Coffee Roasters, which hand-roasts 100pc Arabica beans, shares the site with Bia & Brew making for a true bean-to-cup coffee experience. Good food too.
Find it: Tramore, see biandbrew.ie
48 Arch coffee
Waterford folk love Arch Coffee, which now has two sites in the city. Serving 3fe coffee, last year's coffee of the year, for the second year running, was the Kenyan Kiamaina AA but Arch isn't afraid to experiment and serves coffee from as far away as Thailand, alongside a full range of coffee paraphernalia.
Find it: Two locations, Waterford city, see archcoffe.ie
49 Copper & Straw
Barely open a wet week, Copper & Straw in Bray has already made a name for itself in Bray serving espresso-based and batch brew single origin coffees from Bailies and Nomad.
Find it: Main Street, Bray, Co Wicklow, see Facebook/Copper&Straw
In Northern Ireland you'll find great coffee at branches of the Ground Espresso chain, at Kaffe O, Café Cuan, Root & Branch and Established in Belfast, Finnegan & Sons in Newry, The Craic'd Pot in Armagh, The Sea Shed at Benone Beach near Limavady and Koko in Portrush.