Meet the Robinsons – The newest addition to Dublin 8’s coffee culture

Barista at Liberty Kitchen, Matt Dowiat. Credit – Lisa Connolly

Tucked in on the corner of busy Francis Street, sits the Liberties newest – and most quaint – café and eatery. Lorraine and Darran Robinson opened the Liberty Kitchen on November 1st.

“A flat white and one of those custard tarts please,” I say, never so happy to see a Dublin café offering my all-time favourite: Portuguese custard tarts. It’s no surprise that this small but cosy coffee shop offers not only the most interesting food, but exquisite design.

Artist Darran Robinson, also known as ‘DR Dublin’, is the mastermind behind the earthy and quirky interior of the coffee hub. He and his wife Lorraine, who are both Dublin 8 locals, also own the famous furniture gallery Decor on Wexford Street.

Putting two and two together as I stand to wait for my coffee, I see their passion for interesting and atmospheric interior shining through in their new café. The counter and tables, made from an old boat from the South Pacific, the textured ceiling taken from an old tin ceiling in New York and the beautiful wooden floors taken from a Dublin convent.

“Both Darran and I are from the Liberties,” Lorraine says. “I was actually born in our house in St Kevin’s Terrace, and Darran’s family have been trading on Meath Street for over 100 years.  

“We actually live in the building – we bought it 22 years ago as a shop and residence.”

Dublin 8 is one of the last neighbourhoods in the county where the idea of an ‘old Dublin’ can still be recognised. Big hotel groups and high cost student accommodation buildings are popping up on every corner and can leave us wondering where the Liberties has gone. Are big investors and chains slowly chipping away at the identity of the Dublin 8 we all love?

With 51 Starbucks in Dublin alone, it’s easy to get caught up in the convenience of buying from chain coffee shops. With extortionate prices and a housing crisis, it has never been more important to buy locally.

I peered through a gap in the newspaper covered windows of the Liberty Kitchen, a few months before it had opened. I looked inside and wondered if this new space was to belong to another big investor looking to cash in on what some might consider to be the gentrification of the Liberties. Now in the present moment, as I hold my warm coffee and look out at the lollipop lady and her flock, I’m glad to know this building is being used for a local business, built by local people.

Darran and Lorraine were inspired, they say, to help small local Dublin based business, like 3fe (coffee), Bread Nation, Green Beard (juices and smoothies) and lots of other companies.  “We source mostly Irish products and anything we can get in the Liberties – whenever possible organic, seasonal, slow food,” Lorraine explains. “Most of our products are Irish but we also look to places like Hong Kong and LA for charcoal breads.”

“Business so far is great,” Lorraine told me. “We’re only open a few weeks but recognise the same faces back every day, from the students from BIMM to mothers dropping their kids to school and of course all the local traders and tourist that travel through the Liberties every day.”

Married 25 years this year, Lorraine and Darran Robinson have brought something fresh and new to the Liberties. Their food as eclectic as their cosy interior. Serving up everything from dainty pastries, to charcoal sandwiches, to CBD infused coffees. There’s something in this kitchen for everybody in the Liberties and beyond.

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