Irish Coffee: The Secrets

When you think of coffee connoisseurs, Irish people are  probably not the number one on the list. You instantly think of nations like Italy with their rich, robust espresso, Kiwis with their clever and creamy flat whites or African and South American countries who harvest  the raw coffee beans, however, you may be surprised to know that the Irish have a true delicacy when it comes to coffee, called the Irish Coffee.

We all know about stout, whiskey and cream liqueur being intrinsically Irish – Guinness, Jameson, Coole Swan etc. – but some may not know about a little thing we like to call Irish coffee. In its essence it’s an americano spiked with a shot of whiskey and topped with a thick layer of fresh cream. Rich coffee, probably sweeter than you would normally have it, mixed with a sharp shot of whiskey and sipped up through a pillowy cloud of cream – bet you’re drooling, and definitely intrigued.

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This is a love-it-or-hate-it hot drink that’s not in every café in the country but we wish it were; alcohol, coffee and cream in the one drink (in the middle of the day!) – sign us up! Think of Café Nero’s ‘café con panna’ and you’re about halfway there, without the alcohol of course, but this really needs to be homemade to really taste great. However, there are some exceptions…

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Dublin has recently found its best Irish coffee recipe. It’s the week of the Dublin Whiskey Festival and to mark it, organisers staged a competition pitting ten talented Irish baristas against each other to find out who’s recipe is best.

Tom Stafford, Vice Coffee Inc

Using internationally-lauded and local favourite 3FE Coffee, Teeling’s Irish Whiskey and Glenisk organic cream edged it on the night for ​Tom Stafford, from Vice Coffee Inc. at the Twised Pepper on Abbey Street, who took home the title of ‘Dublin’s Best Irish Coffee’. Tom’s recipe included a brown sugar syrup at the bottom of the glass and cream infused with orange, topped with a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Tom Stafford, Vice Coffee Inc

You see, it’s the magic in an Irish coffee that makes it so enjoyable. Yeah, we’re not all leprechauns and pots of gold, but we do know how to fashion a bit of a spectacle. The Irish make fresh cream stand on top of a piping hot drink. How’s about that!

Here’s the winning Irish Coffee recipe by Vice Coffee Inc:


  • 40ml double Espresso (3FE Momentum Blend)
  • 35.5ml Teelings Single Malt
  • 18ml brown sugar syrup mixed 100ml hot water in a warmed glass.
  • Top with Glenisk Organic Cream infused with orange zest & a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg.


1. Extract your espresso shot using a coffee machine and pour your measure of whiskey, leaving both to one side

2.In a tall glass, combine the brown sugar syrup with 100ml hot water.

3. Top with cream infused with orange zest and a grating of fresh nutmeg on top.

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GastroMum Hanlon is the Queen of the Irish Coffee. An experienced bar manager and manys-a cocktail slinger, her experience and wisdom has imparted us with great tips to perfect this recipe at home. You may notice that every single Irish Coffee recipe stipulates that sugar and cream are absolute essentials…

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First, the sugar. Sugar is absolutely crucial in this recipe as it forms the backbone (and makes up the physical science) in making the cream stand proudly atop the drink. Make sure your sugar is absolutely dissolved before attempting the cream (you will notice Tom’s recipe above cleverly includes pre-mixed brown sugar syrup). In summary, stir vigorously the whiskey, coffee and sugar, but never stir after the cream has been introduced.

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Now, the cream. Perfectionists will argue whether the cream must be pourable or whipped, but for us softly whipping will always do the job. For real enthusiasts, use the ‘ol spoon technique. Carefully pour the cream over the back of a spoon near enough to the surface of the liquid, lifting as you get going to make a crowning cloud of cream. We love a final sprinkle of warm spices or a grating of fresh chocolate on top of the cream just to make it that tiny bit more indulgent.

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The Irish Coffee is fantastic for St. Patrick’s Day, Hallowe’en and an absolute necessity for Christmas celebrations. We even manage a few sneaky sups mid-winter when the weather is absolutely horrific and we’re holed up inside in front of the fire…



  1. March 15, 2015 / 10:28 am

    Thank you! I was looking for exactly this recipe 😉

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