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04th Jun 2024

Meet Container Coffee’s Gordon Hickey, the winner of this year’s Lovin Locals competition with Square

Sarah McKenna

Brought to you by Square

“I had no choice but to open up my own coffee shop. That’s how it all got started.”

Earlier this year, when we launched our Lovin Locals competition with Square, we set out to find an incredible Dublin coffee shop, and boy did you deliver.

After carefully whittling down the entries, we had one clear winner, Container Coffee, a Dublin 8 institution located on Thomas Street.

Fresh off this success, we caught up with Container Coffee’s owner, Gordon Hickey to chat beginnings, community and his plans for his business’s future.

What is the origin story behind Container Coffee?

I was a TV producer at the time, and I couldn’t get a mortgage. I was cycling up and down Thomas Street every morning going into the office that I worked in and I just noticed how much empty land there was along the street. I previously worked on a programme called You Should Really See A Doctor which was a medical show where we had a shipping container and we were dropping into different festivals around Ireland and giving free medical checks. I was working in TV for years, and I was getting tired of it and I really wanted a mortgage. I saw the piece of land and thought, ‘Oh, maybe I could put a shipping container there and open a café?’ It literally was a necessity. I applied for dozens of jobs in big tech companies and I wasn’t even getting interviews. So I spotted the land, and had a little lightbulb moment. I had no choice but to open up my own coffee shop. That’s how it all started.

Is there a strong sense of community surrounding Container Coffee?

I’m from Dublin. I really care about Dublin and its development and the amount of empty space around the city. There was nothing on the land when we first opened, there was lots of empty space. I added lots of seating and people started coming here and we’ve had markets here at the weekend. It did become a bit of a community space.

What was your reaction when you found out you won €2,000 worth of hardware from Square, free advertising worth €10,000 from Lovin Dublin and a cash prize of €5,000?

I was delighted, I never win anything! I enter things all the time and by the time I found out I won, I had forgotten I entered, so when I was reminded of the prize, it then kicked in. It’s an amazing prize. €17,000 worth of a prize is unreal for a small business. Especially now, because the cost of things are really high, it was amazing. It made my week! We’re having a staff night out to celebrate.

Are you looking forward to upgrading Container Coffee’s operations with new hardware from Square?

I think it’s good to revitalise the business, so having a slick, brand new point of sales I think will add to Container Coffee. I’m really excited to use Square because I know there is an in-built system that if the internet goes down, which does happen from time to time, we have a back-up. We’ve had a couple of nightmares where we were losing out on card payments for two days at one point. Having the reliance of a back-up on a system like this where I know that if it’s not connected within 24 hours I can tether it to my phone. That gives me a lot of reassurance as a small business owner.

What does Container Coffee’s future look like?

The plan is to keep going. I was only supposed to be here for 3 years and it’s seven years later now. I’m always looking out for other business ideas, but for now the plan is to keep on keeping on.

You can follow Container Coffee on Instagram right here and you can learn more about Square right here.