double coffee – when looking for a pit stop

There are those people in your life that you really enjoy spending time with.  These people you call your friends. Then there is this other group of people. You know the one. People you grew up with. People that live or have lived next door to you. (You don’t even live next to them anymore and they are still sms’ing you!) And of course some of your former work colleagues. By convenience, many of these people also come to assume the title of ‘friend’. But when you think about it, your life would not be any worse off (perhaps better) if you encountered these people a little less often.

And so it goes with cafes. There are those cafes that you seek out. And there are those that come into your life out of convenience.

Today´s coffee stop has taken me to Hauptbahnhof (Hamburg’s central station). I’ve just finished work and I have an hour or so to kill before meeting up with a mate. So I’m in search of something adequate, nothing too special, just something drinkable really and if it would be welcoming, well that would be a bonus. Of course, it’s a little too soon for me to return to the Rösterei after my recent debacle there. All I wanted was a café latte, but after four attempts they still were not able to satisfy my order (but more about that in a separate post).

So I wander down Kurze Mühren. The clocks running so I need to make a quick decision. Two cafés stand before me. Balzac and Double Quality bylined ‘enjoy the quality’. Hmmm… not exactly what I was looking for, but I guess I’ll give Double Quality a go. For those who haven’t visited Hamburg, Balzac is your standard Starbucks imitation with worse coffee.

a decent latte from a mystery supplier

Double Coffee has gone for the ‘student café’ feel and for the most part pulls it off. University students and academics seem to fill up most of the booths and be situated on the Ikea-ish leather couches. The spiral staircase leading up to the mezzanine level is a nice touch.

The line at the counter is long as three baristas work in rotation. Prices are student friendly starting with an espresso for 1€ through to a double shot café latte at 2.80€. I order a single shot café latte (400 ml) which sets me back 1.99€. Not bad for a quick stop.

The coffee is what is to be expected or perhaps a little better. It’s not great, it’s not terrible – I would say that it is a slight touch better than average (depending on where you set the average bar of course!). The baristas look like they are taking their time and preparing coffees with adequate care despite the high traffic. And this comes through in the coffee – the milk is not burnt, the coffee is served at the perfect temperature and is not watery. The machine is an Elegance. My barista makes me a latte macchiato and with one shake of the head she pours it down the sink and makes me a café latte without any fuss.

The taste is quite strong and perhaps a little harsh. One of the waitresses told me that they are using Lavazza, though she was not 100% sure. Lavazza would make sense, given the type of business that it is (high traffic – wanting to impress, though not overdo it). But downstairs the baristas had another story. They told me that the coffee they are using is almost 100% Arabica beans and that they could not tell me anymore. The supplier is a secret. A few more points then for intrigue.

IN SUMMARY

Not the place to seek out. Not the place to spend a lazy afternoon at leafing through your favourite magazine. But if you need a place to kill an hour, with drinkable coffee and plenty of space, stop by Double Coffee.

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