Third Floor Espresso

Whilst touring the worlds airports, exhibition centres and train stations in the last 6 months I have also been on the look out for a premises to call home. I was very tempted to go looking for work in another country (Ahem, Norway!)but my aim from the start has always to open a really great cafe in Dublin and I felt that abandoning that now would  be something I’d always regret.

There are many obstacles in the way of opening a cafe in Dublin, the most obvious one being cost. Any place that I found that I was really happy with was well in excess of what I budgeted for. Anything I could afford, or felt was a realistic price, just wasn’t sufficient for what I had in mind. I felt I could make money in the majority of places I saw but the other side of that was asking myself how happy I would be selling twenty ounce double mocha vanilla spiced lattes.

shortly before the WBC finals in Atlanta I was in my training room that I had constructed in my apartment’s spare bedroom when I got a call from a friend of mine Alan Coleman who heads up a sea swimming club at the local “forty foot” swimming area, aptly known as the Forty Foot Walruses. Alan is perhaps the worlds most enthusiastic person and he told me he was fresh out of the water, dying for a coffee and wanted to show a friend how insane I was. Fair enough says I.

Al brought along his mate Trev who unknown to me at the time was the man behind the hugely successful “Bodytonic Music” who are event organisers, pub owners (The Bernard Shaw in Portobello) and recently had taken over a club and music venue on Middle Abbey Street in Dublin. Trev was a bit bemused by the whole set up but was equally impressed with the coffee I served him.

A few months down the line I stood in the Twisted Pepper on Abbey Street with Trev and he told me about how he wanted to offer Dubliners a day-time option to enjoying yourself in the city. There were tons of places to at night for a good time but if you wanted to go out during the day, have a laugh with some friends and perhaps not drink (god forbid) where do you go?

He spoke at length about the idea of holding lectures, forums, exhibitions and get togethers of all sorts in the venue during the day but getting people in there before 7pm was proving difficult. What they needed was a day time draw in order to develop the Twisted Pepper into a Daytime Nightclub, so to speak. Thats where I step in.

Trev emphasised that he wanted me to make coffee the way I was doing it in my third floor apartment training room. He could help me by providing publicity and a bit of business acumen training and I could slowly provide him with a day time audience to maximise the Twisted Peppers daytime capabilities. We had a deal

So yesterday we opened the shop for the first time. It was a real effort helped in no small part by my family and friends who seemed to pull out all the stops in coming up with ways to make the shop work in the daytime and be out of harms way come 2am. The good people at Nuova Simonelli also did a great job in pimping up my Aurelia to full competizione spec, leather portafilters and all.

I am also hugely grateful to Paul Stack and Shane Prender at Marco as well as Russel and Mark at bailies for solving every ridiculous problem I threw their way. Thanks must also go to Ian Kelly at the coffee doctors for swinging by to ensure I didnt break everything during install.

In the end however it always comes down to thanking the same three people for their tireless persistence in helping me get to where I need to be. My girlfriend Yvonne is perhaps has been ridiculously supportive and hopefully the new shop will allow me to be in the same country as her more often.

Dave on Bar

The other two are of course Steve Leighton and Dave Walsh who have been instrumental in everything I have done and achieved so far. Steve had put together our first seasonal blend “Frosty” that really is incredible. A combination of Sao Judas, La Illusion and Machacamarca give an indication of the quality of this espresso. Dave on the other hand gave up his day off yesterday to make his “barista debut” and introduced Dublin to the concept of a brew-bar. So successful was it that I think we sold more filter coffee than espresso yesterday…and they said it couldn’t be done 🙂

There is a long way to go and despite yesterdays success I am quick to remind myself that I wont always have a music fair to rely on for sales. In saying that, the vast majority of customers were really impressed and I think we already have some regulars from the local offices!

The next few weeks I feel are going to be slow and painful but slowly, very slowly, we’ll build up the new shop. So, may I introduce to you Dublin’s newest coffee shop; Third Floor Espresso

p.s. Thanks also to designers Conor&David who held back the giggles all year and really got to understand what I wanted to achieve in the coffee shop. This picture shows them unveiling the ambigramic logo at OFFSET 2009 to a spontaneous applause from the audience.


20 thoughts on “Third Floor Espresso

  1. Stephen says:

    Congratulations Colin, I will be home soon to visit. I’ll tell the family its for Christmas, but you and I both know I’m only coming back to see third floor on the first floor.

  2. Shm says:

    Congratulations and best wishes on the new shop. I hope you have a great success with it.

  3. dirtycupcoffee says:

    This all looks so great, Colin. You, Steve and Dave are a powerhouse team of quality and enthusiasm. I really hope to get by there one day – congrats! ~ Hunt

  4. Tumi Ferrer says:

    Congratulations. A really edgy (and sounds very cozy!) idea of a coffee bar!

  5. Congrats Colin, I’ll be sure to call in next time I’m down in Dublin

  6. Jacob Orr says:

    Leather portafilters are the Jay-Z of coffee.

  7. David Walsh says:

    Filter coffee ftw! One of them new, slim ubers would look nice on your bar I must say. 🙂

  8. Joe says:

    All the very best with the new shop Colin. I’ll swing by soon.

  9. emily says:

    nice one. Next Tampertantrum must be filmed onsite.

  10. Per Nordby says:

    Good job Colin. I’ll jump on a plane with only coffee as luggage as soon as I can.

  11. David says:


    Um, got any tea for this non-coffee drinker?

  12. Julie Murray says:

    BIg Congrats Colin,
    I hope to make it in to you tomorrow …

  13. David Craig says:

    Like the concept Colin and look forward to popping in for a coffee in the new year. I’m sure it’ll be even busier after you compete again in 2010!

  14. aaron says:

    Okay, took me 5 days to read the story on the blog. But congrats all the same, friend. Before long you’ll be flying high with overflowing customers. Quality can’t be kept a secret for long. Next time (first time?) I’m in town, I’m there.


  15. Kevski says:

    Damned finest shot of espresso to be had in Dublin! Thanks Colin!

  16. Hi Colin,
    great job! All the best to one of the hardest working (and very good) baristas I know.

  17. CakeBoy says:

    True to form, I’ve only just found and read your text Colin, so these best wishesare a month behind everyone else. It all looks fantastic at your new place. I wish you every success, it is so deserved.

  18. Attila says:

    Let’s rock Colin!
    All the best for you, and take care of the Coffee culture in Dublin ;

    I hope to see you and your shop soon as possibel!

    Kind regards,

  19. […] First and most important – THEY ARE ON THE GROUND FLOOR, NOT ON THE THIRD FLOOR! Barista Colin Harmon is far more obsessive than we will ever be – in a good way. He really, really cares about […]

  20. Brian says:

    You’re an inspiration Colin! Respect!

    Brian 😉

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