In July 2017, I wrote a review of Fonté Coffee, what was then a relatively new coffee shop on Parliament Street in Dublin, right at the intersection of old and new Temple Bar. This small coffee shop, with a bright and modern design, managed to charm me with friendly staff and their tiny “secret garden”. The place seemed to have a different vibe and a different personality to other coffee shops in Dublin. The clean and crisp design of the interior combined with the warm reception you receive every time you stop by makes Fonté stand out for all the right reasons. It had been a while since that first review, so when I got an email on a Monday night about an exclusive coffee cupping event at Fonté Coffee later in week, it was a pleasant surprise. It was even more exciting when I found out not only would the founder of Fonté Coffee Roaster, Paul Odom, be there to host the cupping, but they had a really unique set of beans to share with us.This was a great opportunity to learn more about Fonté and their coffee, and get to meet the people behind the Fonté Coffee business.
Fonté Coffee – From Seattle to Dublin
Fonté Coffee started in Seattle in 1992 when Paul Odom set up as a coffee roaster. The company has expanded over the last 25 years, with two coffee bars in Seattle, one in Dublin, and increasingly their coffee is available in various hotels across Ireland including in Galway and Belfast. The fact that they were based in Seattle and had managed to find their way to Ireland really intrigued me. It turns out we have Andy O’Neill, owner of Fonté Coffee Ireland, to thank for that. Andy set his sights on bringing Fonté to Ireland, bringing a new range of beans to the Irish coffee scene along with it. Knowing that their roots are firmly placed all the way across the Atlantic on the West Coast of the US, it was exciting to get the chance to attend an event with their founder Paul.
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The coffee cupping
There were three different types of single-origin coffee beans on offer at this coffee cupping event. The was first from Myanmar, and as far as I can recall, this was the first time I got to try coffee sourced from Asia, so that in itself was exciting. I really enjoyed these beans, with a chocolatey finish that I tend to like in coffee. They also had Kenya single origin with citrusy undertones, and Brasil single-origin, which they describe as having spicy notes throughout. Each had their own unique flavour profiles, but nothing stood out as much as the last coffee we tried.
Bourbon-infused coffee with a kick
The draw of this event above all else was the chance to try coffee that had been conditioned in 12 year old Heaven Hill Kentucky Bourbon Barrels. What does this even mean? Fonté Coffee took their Brasil single-origin and conditioned the beans in a barrel that was first used for bourbon, and then later used for wood-aged stout. The beans were then roasted, bringing out a distinct, striking flavour and at the end of the process the beans had turned a deep brown, almost black colour, much darker than any of the other beans on display. The result of this experiment is a kick of that bourbon flavour that stays with you long after your first sip. This is a truly memorable flavour, and opens up a whole realm of possibilities with what you can do with coffee like this.
Andy came up with his own ideas for the bourbon-infused beans, like this virgin “Irish coffee” using a shot of espresso and a dash of cream. It could also pair nicely with a scoop of ice cream!
We were the first members of the public to get to try these beans, and Fonté are still trying to figure out exactly what to do with it. There\’s such a big and unique flavour, and I’m very interested to see where they take it. It was great to have the opportunity to attend this event and to experience coffee that has been through such a unique process. We felt very fortunate to be among the first to try these beans, and I have a feeling we’ll be thinking about them for a while to come! Read my review of Fonté Coffee on Parliament Street here.
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This is an independent blog post. I was invited to this event by Fonté Coffee, and there were no conditions attached to this invitation. I made the decision myself to write this blog post and share my experience.