Up all night to get coffee – Nick’s hut hits the spot in Ranelagh

Nick Seymour was once told that what he needed was a ‘sexy’ coffee shop. Luckily, the affable Englishman ignored the advice.

‘I thought, no,’ he recalls with a laugh.‘You’ve misread the whole situation – and just what we’re trying to do here.’

The ‘whole situation’ is Nick’s Coffee Company – a tiny but perfectly formed coffee hut, complete with open air seating, at the entrance to the old village market in Ranelagh.

In just six years, it’s become one of the area’s most-treasured spots. Loved by taxi drivers and poets, guards and Luas commuters alike, the star of the show is, quite naturally, Nick’s unique blend of coffee, which has taken him years to perfect.

Nick Seymour and Federica Fandaulli

Hut hits – Nick Seymour and Federica Fandaulli in Ranelagh.

Nick’s story started back in the late 1980s when Norfolk-born coffee fan followed his parents to Ireland. ‘Coffee was always a hobby,’ he says.‘And when I started doing a lot of travelling, I found coffee was like an international language which helped you connect with people in different countries.’

Eventually and inevitably, Nick found himself working in the coffee trade. After a few years, he decided to make his own blend. His first attempt was in the South of France about nine years ago where he worked with a Moroccan colleague, who had no English.

‘Then when I came back to Ireland years later, I brought that blend back with me. I worked with a friend in Belfast to tweak it to get it just right.

‘It was a long process of trial and error. I was always changing things. But I do remember when we first ran this particular blend of coffee, because for some reason, that day I was in foul form. I tasted it and said to the lads, I need a few hours to think about this. When I came back to them later that day I knew, by pure chance, that we’d got it.’

‘Earlier blends had Demerara sugar and liquorice notes.  But when we added that final bean, we were getting toffee and berries, too. It’s a blend that reminded people of coffee they tasted when they were little.’

Word -and samples – got out fast and soon Nick was supplying coffee to restaurants across Ireland – a business that continues to this day. Roasting still takes place in Belfast and, because of demand, may also be carried out as well in the Republic.

‘The flavours of the beans can vary throughout the year so we always have to make sure we tweak the blend and the roasting to get it right,’ says Nick, who explains that over-roasting of a mere 30 seconds can make all the difference.

There are four different beans in his blend, sourced from organic, small scale growers in Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala and India. ‘It’s top quality and fresh,’ says Nick. ’Unlike the big brands, we buy our coffee four times a year.’

Nick’s shop is open from 7am to 7pm every day but with demand growing he’s experimenting with even longer hours – and food. ‘We’re now open through the night on Fridays and Saturdays and the reaction so far  has been great. If it is a success, we will be looking at operating round the clock every day in the future.

’‘We’ve also started breakfasts BBQs on Thursdays from 7.30am. That’s been popular too, with sausages  from Hick’s who are providing everything pig.’

Nick’s place is also an arts destination. The Ash Sessions, named after a lyric from Leonard Cohen , sees poets, musicians and writers gather in Nick’s hut for informal, semi-public performances on Sunday afternoons. ‘That was the idea of Dimitra Xidous who came to me with it  - and I thought why not?’

A blackboard, just outside the hut, is also reserved specially for poems, says Nick, who sings the praises of the team who work in the hut.

‘All the guys who work in the shop have a few strings to their bows. Dermot (Carmody), for example, is a great musician and standup’, says Nick, who clearly loves Ranelagh as much as the locals love him and his coffee.

He admits that he would like for more people across Ireland to be able to discover his special blend of coffee, which sells at very reasonable prices in simple, foil packaging in the hut and also in other local independent shops.

But he has no plans to open a bigger  and, dare it be said, cooler and sexier shop in another location.

‘We are happy to be here in Ranelagh,’ he says. ‘ If people come in and ask, we’ll even teach them how to make a good cup of coffee, because at heart, it is still our hobby. We do community sports day and local churches simply because we consider ourselves lucky to be able to make a living out of what we do.’

‘We’re a coffee shop for the people., not a big business. We like to be friendly. It’s a model we are happy with. And it’s one that works for us.’

Nick’s Coffee Company
Entrance to old Ranelagh Village Market
Ranelagh

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Ranelagh

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