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.


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.

flat white – an australian coffee becomes famous

There’s this funny thing about flat whites which Luke and I have recently noticed. It’s like the latest in coffee codes for ‘I know something about coffee’. In Europe some cafés even charge extra for a flat white. A bit like paying to go to the toilet. Real nuisance.

flat white, 17 berwick street, soho, london

And some cafés are also letting us know that flat whites come only in a particular size. Real funny that.

In reality flat whites are nothing but a café latte with a little bit less froth (approx. 2-3mm) and really nothing special, except if you are into very little froth. In Australia, where the flat white comes from (or New Zealand, who knows, doesn’t matter, we get along), it is nothing cool, not more expensive, not a special size and not a trendy code for knowing more about coffee. It’s an ongoing mystery to me why less froth is more expensive. But then, hey, Australia (& NZ, too, of course!) are far away and exotic, and Australian travellers are so desperate for good coffee and willing to pay for it. So, why not make some money out of it?? 🙂

a real cafe latte!

Anyway, this post is actually about a café called ‘flat white’. The term is so famous these days that a cool Soho café in 17 Berwick Street, London (their website account was suspended at time of writing, hence no link) deemed it worthy to name itself ‘flat white’. You cannot imagine how excited I was to find a place bold enough to associate itself with Australian coffee and so we visited it on our last trip to London in May. And yes, the coffee IS excellent. Smooth and tangy, after being deprived of good coffee for a year, I could have had 3 lattes at once. The place itself is quite small, some graffiti artwork on the walls and tight seating which lets you know that you are not supposed to stay there for too long. But drink your coffee, enjoy it and come back. I certainly will!


These guys know their stuff. Although the smooth taste of the coffee is not everyone’s cup of coffee, I really enjoyed it. Good friendly barristas and nice latte art. The place is a bit squeezy for my liking. Wouldn’t hang out there for hours, but then which café owner really wants you to, especially if you have to pay London rent?

elbgold – something to dream about?

elbgold, sternschanze in hamburg

A café built just for me! All serious coffee drinkers dream about it. Friendly, helpful  staff, owners anxious about their coffee choices  and lots of space – well at least that’s what I dream about, whenever I go out for coffee.

But alas, now I live in Hamburg and finding a place that meets my criteria for coffee success is not as easy as you would think.

La Cafetteria in Eppendorf has failed me time and time again on the service front. As my wife blogged about in her last post, Mikkels, as welcoming as it is, just doesn’t have the equipment necessary to prepare the ultimate brew. And coffee close to Jungfernstieg! Don´t talk to me about coffee close to Jungfernstieg! Our web research promised a café with the highest quality coffee but delivered only a subway sandwich shop at the most highly billed location.

hmm... how do you drink that?

But today I am happy, as I sit here in Elbgold, the first Hamburgian café that just may have the chops to compete with the best, perhaps even the best in my beloved hometown Melbourne.

The staff as soon as you enter the door, greet you with a friendly hallo. If you have questions they are willing to guide you through the 15 available single-origin filter roasts, all made from 100 Arabica beans. The choice of espresso however is limited to two elbgold house blends, one made from Latin American Arabica beans, the other a blend of various African Arabica beans.

Today I felt like a strong brew so Julian my waiter recommended the Columbian roast. Unfortunately, as I get more and more ambitious with my ability to speak German, this sometimes translates into confusion about what I actually want. So instead of getting a creamy café latte I ended up with filter coffee.

In any event, the coffee did not disappoint. The filter coffee was adequate though I do not pretend to be as well versed in the nuances of the filtered types as I am in the subtleties of espresso.

a real latte in hamburg...

For my second choice I clarified that I wanted a café latte and would prefer the stronger Africana brew. On previous occasions I had tested the Classico (the Latin American blend). It is creamy, round and light. The African blend is indeed stronger, but still maintains the creaminess and smoothness of the Classico.

Of course, there are also options for lunch and on a warm afternoon I could see myself spending quite a bit of time here in open outdoor space. It’s a nice mix of guests too. Neither laptops, nor mothers, nor the elderly, nor young professionals dominate.  There is space and a place for all.

Potentially one of Hamburg`s finest!


Quality coffee with the potential to compete with the best.  If filter coffee and 100% Arabica beans are your thing than elbgold is definitely for you.   

mikkels – a sweat treasure

Ottensen, Hamburg. A colourful neighbourhood with loads of interesting street performers, street inhabitants currently on the edge of experiencing the transition from an alternative rough neighbourhood to a trendy one which is welcomed in varying degrees of enthusiasm by its inhabitants.

mikkels front

mikkels upfront

In fact it is the only place my husband was once told that he was dressed to nice for the area. They are definitely not shy around here.

Ottensen has a large variety of little coffee shops, restaurants and cafés that vary greatly in price and quality. Amongst all of these places is small hidden gem called ‘mikkels‘.

mikkels interior

mikkels interior, ottensen, hamburg

It’s a fairly new cafe hidden in the Kleine Rainstraße 10 that offers an amazing variety of hand made miniature muffins, little cakes, scons and other delicious sweets with names I have never heard before. My favourites are the Linzer Törtchen and ‘almond nonnettes with raspberry’. Most of which are priced around 1-1,50€.

Lunch options are fairly limited to scones and a few sandwiches, but what about the coffee?

Well, unfortunately it is somewhat short on the pallate and not exactly what I call state of the art – the service is very nice, but the barrista untrained as 95% of all barristas in Hamburg.

But then one of the nice things about mikkels is that the interior shows a lot of love for detail. Interesting typography, local art and gorgeous nick nacks that are out of place and yet make you feel as if you are visiting your grand mothers living room – if only she was as cool and funky…


Go for the sweets and the atmosphere. It’s worth a visit and a great stop on a busy afternoon when all you need is a short quiet escape and something sweet to brighten up your day.