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Connie McKenna revels in the non-conformist ethos of Alchemy, in Cork city.

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The non conformist tradition of coffee culture has made its home within the edgy land of Barrack Street, in Cork city.
Alchemy Coffee and Bookstore, which wraps itself around the corner of Barrack Street and Fort Street, understands truly, madly, and deeply, that Cork is the city where rebellion runs through the waters of the River Lee, and it replicates this spirit through a deftly organised, slightly anarchic, chaos.
The baristas in Alchemy show a profound respect for coffee, and their coffee majordomos greet you with beautiful Cork city accents, whilst decorating every single flat white with a unique symbol.
What’s more, baristas like our hero, Michelle, do it barefoot.
Alchemy Coffee needs this rule breaker chick in their punk of an establishment. They make use of 3FE coffee but it’s in adding the ‘Alchemy’ twist that the magic brews.
Café culture in Ireland in the twenty first century sees itself in two domains.
First is the slick Sonneveld house environment, destinations which cultivate a modernist, minimalist and urban approach to the places where we worship the holy bean.
However, the second area of coffee house environmentalism fondly worships a nostalgic time – not so cool; not so Nordic; not so straightforward – and reinvents itself to suit the customer sensitive to an eclectic visual stimuli. This is Alchemy.
And everything about Alchemy is alchemical; the sandwiches; their ace sausage rolls; the yummy cakes and pastries; the brews. In a word, Alchemy is exceptional. On every visit, there is a new treat to be enjoyed – the Tunisian orange cake! the Bakewell! the mushroom sausage roll! – and the room becomes more weirder and more wonderful with every visit.
13 Barrack Street, Cork City. Alchemy 2 is also open on Langford Row.

Connie McKenna

Alchemy is on Facebook

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