From the former premises of the Yes Equality Dun Laoghaire headquarters, comes an aspiring new cafe serving organic and fair-trade coffee, called Curious Monkey Coffee Co. It’s the brainchild of Evan and Carai, two food loving baristas who felt George’s Street in Dun Laoghaire could do with some of their flat whites and innovative cold brew coffee.
With the conclusion of the Yes Equality vote, Carai got in touch with the landlord of the building, his father, about living there for the summer until new tenants were found. This plan would quickly change though, as the idea of having their own cafe, serving their favourite speciality coffee from around the world was too strong to ignore. What started out as two friends being curious about their dream coffee shop, soon became a reality.
With their plan in motion, Evan went to work on their distinctive monkey related branding. You will know you are getting close to the cafe when you see people walking around with banana adorned coffee cups, or when you see two monkeys eating bananas in a shop window.
His father, also being the owner of Thyme Out catering in Dalkey, meant they could stock a range of sandwiches, soups, sausage rolls, scones, and bottled dressings. Choose from favourites like honey roast ham sandwiches, 5 euro’s and 50 cents, pea and mint soup, 3 euro’s, or a Moroccan flavoured couscous salad box, 4 to 6 euro’s.
On the other hand, you could just stop in for an espresso and pick up a basil and lime dressing to add a bit of flavour to your own dinner later that night.
With such great food available, it’s easy to forget about the coffee for a second. It comes from McCabe’s hand roasted coffee based in county Wicklow. The father and son team of Clive and Stephen McCabe source their coffee from countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia and Brazil. They have a direct relationship with their coffee farmers. Curious Monkey offer familiar favourites like americano’s, flat whites, and latte’s.
However, what may pique your curiosity are the bottles of cold brew on offer. Carai and Evan had seen the success of this type of drink in coffee loving countries such as America and Australia, and felt this niche product would help them stand out from the burgeoning Irish coffee scene. So what exactly is cold brew coffee? The Curious Monkey’s describe it as slow and low brewing. Through trial and error they found that brewing for many hours at a specific temperature resulted in something equally tasty yet different than traditional hot coffee. Cold brew has the benefit of highlighting some of the subtler sweeter flavours from the coffee beans, while removing the acidic bitter flavours that some people dislike. They feel it is more akin to tea, making it a good gateway drink for any coffee sceptics wishing to dip their toe into the world of coffee.
Cold brew allows you to easily get your coffee fix no matter where your day takes you. Going for a weekend bike ride, swop your water bottle for some cold brew. If you work in a coffee desert, bring some with you when you leave the house. For those regularly deprived of a morning caffeine fix, this is an easy solution to all of your problems.
The ethos of Curious Monkey is about working directly with innovative local Irish businesses. Their coffee is roasted for them each week in Wicklow, their food coming daily from Dalkey, but what they are particularly proud of is their relationship with Ethnic Threads Clothing. It is a non-profit led project that provides fair wages, training and the opportunity to be financially independent for its Malawi workers. The jackets can be seen hanging from the ceiling, adding to the monkey vibe in the cafe. The jackets are ideal for those wishing to add a bit of style and colour to their wardrobe, or want to improve a loved one’s look. With over 60% of the sale going directly to the tailors, you will also be supporting a great cause this Christmas.
Although this Dun Laoghaire Monkey is in its infancy, Carai and Evan are constantly discussing ideas for the future, and what businesses they would like to work with. They feel their cold brew and espressos would be a natural fit with cocktail bars. You may end up seeing espresso martini’s or Irish Coffee’s across the road from them in Gilbert & Wright.
For those with a sweet tooth, there is also the possibility of them working with Nitro Coffee. To those just getting their head around cold brew coffee, nitro coffee is the process of injecting cold brew with nitrogen gas, which in turns creates a creamy stout like drink, very similar to coffee ice cream.
Although Carai and Evan have had their hands full with Curious Monkey, we wanted to know what businesses inspire them and where they go on Sunday’s, the one day the cafe isn’t open. They are big fans of coffee stalwarts Bear Market in Blackrock and Fumbally Cafe. On their to-do list is food in Sister Sadie and to do some “research” on coffee cocktails in The Vintage Cocktail Club.
Curious Monkey knows how important it is to interact with people on social media and how fluid it should be for new businesses these days. You can join in the mischief and tweet or Instagram them pictures of their banana logo coffee cups in all manner of locations. While following them may result in cravings for coffee cake, espresso, and sandwiches that can only be satisfied by paying them a visit and indulging in these tasty treats. You may just satisfy your curiosity.
Photos by Manon Gustave