I’m a cafe person, and hardly a day goes by without paying a visit to one of my hangouts of choice. Usually, the process of deciding which cafe to head to is quite simple: I know my favourites, and I am well-acquainted with their dynamics, their menu, their baristas. I do happen to have conditioned myself to work in public spaces, where the cacophony of conversations and crockery, and the smell of coffee being brewed have this magical property of making me focus. I’m a sort of pavlovian dog, specialty coffee being my trigger.
From time to time, however, this exploratory gene urges me to try somewhere new. So I hop on my bike on a quest to find the perfect location to work on the computer at, or just read my book, in a relatively quiet, cosy atmosphere. To be completely honest, if I divert from my usual places, chances are I am going to end up unsatisfied. Whether I find it too loud, the coffee not that great, or there’s no proper place to sit. I have gotten picky, and the crowdier it is, the more that characteristic tends to manifest. For the record: on the weekends all the good places in Amsterdam are packed. I usually write in the mornings and avoid busy hours, but it might be that I have this article I really need to finish.
Ana cycles thus, in hunting mode, passes by different cafes, stops in none, cycles forward, risks that new one they say it is pleasant (guess what, I was not the only one who heard the rumor), grows impatient, and worst case scenario: it will be raining as hell, and she gets completely soaked in the meanwhile. Like today, for instance. Reaching this stage, the solution appears bright and shiny upon me: reverting to one my ‘shelters’, where however busy it might be, trustworthy coffee, kind people, and sweet local atmosphere, always rescue me back to a state of contentment. This is the ground on which I get work done. All these places deserve a blog post of their own, which will eventually happen ( I already wrote about Rum Baba and Koffie ende Koeck). For now, here is the short list of my all-time favourite cafes in Amsterdam, where I spend more time than it is socially acceptable, and from where most of this blog came to life.
Coffee Bru at the Beukenplein (east) was the place which got me introduced to specialty coffee. I used to live in the area, and I developed a serious crush on it. The baristas on the photo were the friendliest I had ever come across, and totally demystified the prejudice I had against whatever would resemble a ‘hip cafe’. Bru’s atmosphere is super bright and cosy, they have newspapers and magazines, sweet music, the best banana bread ever invented, they work with their own brand of coffee, and – super important – take a look at this table. It just asks you to go work there.
You can’t talk about specialty coffee in Amsterdam without mentioning Toki. When I moved to the Westerpark I dreaded not having Coffee Bru at the corner, until I found Toki right in the Haarlemmerbuurt (city-centre). At the time, the owner worked behind the counter every single day, and his heart-warming smile was what kept me coming back. Before I knew it, I was addicted. They work with Bonanza beans (Berlin), and their cappuccino is simply the best I have ever tasted. The environment is perfect for working. Toki also became a hype on social media due to its minimalistic picture perfect interior – a well-deserved attention if you ask me.
Don’t I look like a true Cruella-de-Ville-before-coffee-kicks-in?
White Label‘s coffee is, together with Toki’s, my favourite in Amsterdam. Their beans are available in different cafes around the city, but their headquarters at the Mercatorplein neighbourhood (west) is heaven for people working behind laptops. The place is huge, the tables (which you don’t see in the pictures) are large, there are sockets everywhere, there is the smell of coffee being roasted, and their selection of music is – very often – one of the best in the city. Last but nor the least, they serve some chocolate date cookies which – simply put – are a sin.
Latei is THE neighbourhood cafe par excellence. Here you drink your coffee next to the old Amsterdammer reading the newspaper, the student preparing for their exam, the occasional tourist. The ingredients they use are organic, the bread comes from a local bakery, coffee is from Bocca, and all food is home-made (try their cheesecake!). Plus, all the paraphernalia of objects and curiosa you are surrounded with are for sale. There’s nothing minimalistic or “hotspot-like” about this place. Latei is a pearl in the heart of the touristy Zeedijk, (Nieuwmarkt side): despite its location, it couldn’t have more of a local, unpretentious feel.
I have written about Koffie ende Koeck before. Located right the on opposite side of the Westergasfabriek (Haarlemmerweg side), I couldn’t feel more at home here. Maartje is the sweetest cafe owner of the entire universe, plus there is so much love in everything she does: you can literally taste it. Everything at Koffie ende Koeck is vegan – if you never had a vegan cappuccino, you have to try (she uses Bocca coffee). From all the heavenly cakes Maartje bakes, this date cake is my ultimate pick.
To make a round story out of this, let’s fly to Rum Baba, owned by the same folks who are responsible for Coffee Bru. Same genius home-made cakes, same coffee, same wonderful interior (full of colour!), same unpretentiousness, and generally not as crowded as its sibling (maybe because of being located slightly further east, at the Pretoriusstraat). Rum Baba not only serves coffee and cake, but they roast their own beans, and bake all the goods from scratch, just a few doors down the road. I dedicated a full blog post to Rum Baba over here. It was my way of thanking for all the inspiration it lent me.
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