Bewley's, Dublin's Iconic Cafe on Grafton Street Reopens

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Bewley's on Dublin's Grafton Street Bewley's on Dublin's Grafton Street

The list of people who haven't had a coffee or tea in Dublin's most famous coffee shop, Bewley's on Grafton Street, is short.

For decades it has been a meeting place for visitors to the Irish capital, friends rendezvousing for a coffee, cake and a chat at the central location.

Bewley's has also had real ups and downs in recent years, stuck with incredibly high rents on one of the most expensive streets in the world, with upward only rent reviews even during major economic downturns such as the Global Financial Crisis and COVID-19 and an incredibly uncaring landlord who - rightly or wrongly - wanted to collect all that rent regardless.

It closed in 2015 for a large scale refurbishment that took three years.

So 2020 saw Bewley's close again, for good it seemed back in May, however, late August 2020 saw the famous café reopen to cater to those in Dublin who want something with culture and a tasty coffee; Bewley's roast their own coffee and blend their own teas and for those not in Dublin you can find their beans and ground coffee in supermarkets or online - so for all you English speakers living in the EU looking for good coffee and tea, why not try some of Bewley's finest.

The building in which Bewley's is now housed was, in the 18th century a school, Whyte's Academy which counted the Duke of Wellington, Robert Emmet and Thomas Moore among its former pupils.

The Bewley family originally came from France via England to Ireland in the year 1700 and were principally involved in textiles, they were Quakers.

Bewley's were the first to directly import tea and other overseas goods directly into Ireland, prior to their first shipment in 1835 these would have been sourced in Britain.

By the start of the 20th century, coffee was becoming an important part of the Bewley's business and in the 1920s Ernest Bewley bought and refurbished the former Whyte's Academy on Grafton Street. It was an expensive endeavour and he commissioned the famous Harry Clarke to design and install a set of stained glass windows.

It was during the Second World War when the British government restricted the supply of tea that coffee drinking really took off in Dublin, consumption doubled between 1939 and 1945.

So now, Bewley's is now open again, at least for now - do head in and have a coffee, cake or tea in a cultural Dublin institution frequented by James Joyce, Wittgenstein, Samuel Beckett, musicians, politicians and locals and visitors alike.

I will be sure to add Bewley's to my list of favourite coffee shops here.

Bewley's Coffee Shop on Grafton Street, Dublin
Bewley's Coffee Shop on Grafton Street, Dublin is an iconic cultural institution in the Irish capital
Last modified on Wednesday, 22 September 2021 00:11
Darren McLoughlin

International travel photographer and Irishman in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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