Coffee with the Romans


10€ for a coffee…

In 1763 Australia hadn’t been discovered and England and France ruled the Americas and the Holy Roman Empire was coming to its end. What could a cup of coffee cost then?

Fast forward to 2017 and it feels like the world is about to change again. Donald Trump has taken office and is handing out executive orders like cupcakes and Theresa May is mildly excited about claiming back her country to the ‘good old days’ (were they that good? I seem to forget all the bad bits in my past). 

So how much would a good cuppa cost in 1763? Surely there were 3 Italian chaps sitting in cafe Grecco over a doppio and discussing world events and politics. Today it will set you back €10 – rather steep for a robusta strong Italian coffee in what is an unassuming front and interior decor that has seen little change in the last century. The only hint of the prices are the expensive neighbours: Cartiers, Hermes and Bulgari next door. What’s 10€ if you just spent a fortune on fashion and a bit of bling? 

The coffee won’t rock your world, the soy has strong vanilla flavours but the place throws you back in time to the ‘good old days’. And yet, you wish someone called out the emperors clothes and sent them to a land far away to gain new experiences and make seriously good coffee. 


Finding un café, not so Parisian style


My feet are killing me and I’ve had Parisian visual overkill… Eiffel tower, La Seine, Louvre, Notre Dame, L’Orangerie

The Eiffel Tower against tree lined street

The Eiffel Tower… ahh… it’s hard not to act like a tourist in Paris.

– everything’s starting to melt into one and my head is spinning from very pretty but repetitive architecture. My fingers are tired from the 1000s of pictures I’ve taken and after having failed at finding a Kebab at either of Notre Dame’s corners and having succumbed to a tourist trap Bistro out of sheer hunger and desperation all I want is coffee. Good coffee.

We headed to Le Marais where according to Beanhunter terres de cafe is THE place for coffee. But they don’t do soy and the place is more of a super tiny roastery wholesale shop (very cute) than a comfortable café to sit down and relax for a bit. Not the moment of escape we had hoped for unfortunately.

We must have had disappointment written all over our faces, because the girl is very nice to us and recommends a place close by. Loustic does soy and is only 3 blocks away apparently. What are 3 blocks after 10 miles of walking? So, hopeful that we are not the butt of a French joke we make our way and aren’t disappointed.

Inside loustic

Inside loustic

A La Marzocca smiles at us when we walk through the door. The atmosphere is warm and very cosy, 70s wallpaper next to exposed brick walls. The front room consists of a long bar opposite a comfy long bench with small movable tables to share.

A French Flat White...

A French Flat White…

The back rooms are more intimate. The friendly barista recommends a ‘café crème’ which is  supposed to be the French equivalent of a flat white. Why not…. The little green coffee beans don’t disappoint. The coffee is incredibly mild and creamy with a lovely taste of coconut and chocolate.

Not bad, although slightly too weak for Luke’s liking. I am happy and can’t help but overhear yuppie/artie conversations by my neighbours next to me (I wasn’t trying to –  you do share close quarters here…) he’s working hard on impressing his friend with upcoming art shows and a move to London. I smile. Well, that’s Paris after all. We feel like we’ve finally arrived.

It is cute, it is quirky and it is trying to be something different than the usual Parisian cafés. Loustic does coffee well for France and has a selection of lunch options as well. It has a whiff of modern Paris, so make sure to wear nothing but black and grey to blend in. 

loustic, 40 Rue Capon, 3eme, Paris, Métro stations near by: Étienne Marcel or Arts et Métier

Bath, coffee and spas

Rare to see this many grinders at once

Rare to see this many coffee grinders at once

After having experienced old spas the way Romans would never do (3 queues, audio guides and a ‘do not touch the water’ policy) we needed a break before plunging into a real spa.

Collona & Small’s seemed like the place to choose in Bath. As soon as you enter you feel the positive vibe – these guys are dead serious about coffee, except that they are not dead serious at all. They are super friendly and helpful. C&S ticks so many boxes that I feel dizzy. Not what I expected from our short stay in Bath.

blackboard with large selection of different coffee beans

Spoilt for choice

Bright interior, wooden natural feel, amazing coffee selection, lots of cake and pastry options (including gluten free options).

My Bonsoy flat white is good, but not the best I’ve ever had, however the Ethiopian espresso is simple perfection. I feel like I am in coffee heaven – how much do apartments in Bath cost?

View to the outside from the inside of the cafe

Inside of Colonna & Small’s

C&S really surprised us. Usually it’s hard to find a good coffee in the UK outside of London, but we were proven wrong. This place really knows how to do coffee. They use a La Marzocco Strada and offer ten changing specialty roasters from around the UK.

where to find the best coffee in the world.

Melbourne, Australia. You can stop reading now.

Now I know this title is extremely biased. But then anyone who has been to Melbourne will understand.

There are few, if any, cities as obsessed about coffee as Melbourne. It is quite normal to walk an extra 5 blocks, because your friend or colleague is not happy with the cafe around the corner. There is cafe ditching on a daily basis, because there’s simply no excuse for bad coffee in Melbourne.

Albert Park Lake, Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne at its best: sunny Albert Park Lake

On occasions I have gone as far as ditching entire restaurants for serving Coffex. If they skimp on the coffee, then their food ingredients can’t be of great quality either, right?

Well, having been back in Europe for over two years now has taught me that there’s more to life than just complaining about bad coffee. But hey, have I complained!

Fights with German cafe owners about what a latte is (and I still insist that it is NOT a latte macchiato), lots of returned coffee, lots of unfinished coffee, lots of burned coffee, the list goes on. But it has had its positives, I’ve learned a lot about black coffee in Portugal, I’ve done my best to convince anyone who’s been brave enough to go out for a coffee with me that there are better options out there then burnt milk with coffee flavour and three spoons of sugar.

Monk Bodhi Dharma

Inside of Monk Bodhi Dharma

Since my love for coffee started in Melbourne, I was very excited about being back in April and, not surprisingly, quite a few things had changed in the coffee scene. St Ali has been sold to a foreign investor and lots of new cafés have popped up everywhere.

Now, although I was unable to visit all of the new places, since we spent most of the time on the Mornington Peninsula, I caught up with Paul a friend of mine, who is a Melbourne Barista and who gave me his tips, as to the best cafés in Melbourne 2012.

So here it goes, very personal and biased, make sure to check them out for yourself, but this is Paul’s Top 9, in no order of preference:

  1. monk bodhi dharma
  2. the final step
  3. patricia
  4. auction rooms
  5. proud mary
  6. axil
  7. omar and the marvelous coffee bird
  8. hobba
  9. dead man espresso

After going through that list I decided to start with Monk Bodhi Dharma and this place certainly did not disappoint.

Tucked away on Carlisle Street next to the police station, this small but friendly place oozes with charm and you feel welcome right away. Very nice staff and happy to chat about their coffee.

Soy latte in hand

Monk Bodhi Dharma soy latte

At the time of drinking I was enjoying the house blend of the month, which technically was no blend at all, but a single origin from Papua New Guinea and tasted amazing.

The Synesso produced that fine rounded chocolaty drop I was looking for and the Muffins were great, too. Would I live in Melbourne again, I’d be a regular for sure!

Hopefully this page will keep you caffeinated in Melbourne for a while… If you feel there are other special places in Melbourne that I’ve left out, then feel free to add them in the comments section!

Location: Monk Bodhi Dharma, Carlisle Street, Melbourne, Australia

Visited: April 2012

Melbourne did not disappoint. Good coffee everywhere and Monk Bodhi Dharma has the right balance between a relaxed friendly atmosphere and simply excellent coffee.


two points for pois café

Could I be happier? Sitting on a 25 degree day in pois, café in Alfama. The picturesque pinnacle of the enchanting city of Lisbon, Portugal. My mind is turning to questions of cost of living, average rental payments and could we really live here? But of course it is just a holiday dream.

Pois Café, Rua de São João da Praça, Lisboa, Portugal

It’s been an eon since I last strolled into a cafe and felt so at home. The couches surround a large buckled chest and rows of books on shelves to the left and the right. The menu looks appealing – too bad we have just eaten.

So I order a double espresso and Julia requests a soy latte. And they have soy! Are we in coffee paradise? Leider nicht (unfortunately not).

Julia’s latte is obviously a latte machiatto (coffee poured in after the milk) and just doesn’t quite cut it.

chocolate coconut cake

The Portuguese Austrian version of a lamington

But my double espresso is adequate – it does the job  together with a coconut chocolate cake that reminds me of the one and only Aussie speciality, the lamington. I may not be in coffee paradise, but I am in cafe bliss!


Come for the ambience, the German book and magazine selection and enjoy Alfama!

due baristi – two are better than one

So, is there a good coffee place in Hamburg???

After having found many great cafés in many cities, finding the perfect place in Hamburg has turned out to be far more difficult than expected. So far, I have lost count of the amount of arguments I have had with café staff on what the difference is between a café latte and a latté macchiato. For those of you who have not heard of what a latte macchiato is, don’t worry, I hadn’t either.

Basically it is a latte, but you pour in the coffee last that makes for a nicely looking coffee. Unfortunately in terms of taste it is not much to rave about. It tastes very milky and the crema does not rise to the top. And then there is the issue with the poorly trained baristas, who tend to to overheat the milk and refuse to understand how it is different to a café latte. So makes for 80% of my café experiences in Hamburg.

But when I thought that all hope was lost of finding a good café along came Due Baristi at Langenfelder Damm 2-4 in Eimsbüttel.

chocolate cake at Due Baristi

Sweet gooey chocolate cake at Due Baristi, Langenfelder Damm 2-4, Eimsbüttel, Hamburg

It’s a quiet residential area with leafy trees and a few small boutiques, close to Osterstraße but tucked away in an unspectacular but cosy corner.

On arrival the café looked promising with its large outdoor seating area packed with people sipping coffee. It also passed my usual first table check: seeing whether everyone had finished their coffee or whether the new coffees looked like something I would like to order.

The name of the place seems to be derived from the fact that there are two baristas preparing the coffe. Two owners it seems, passionate about coffee. But so far, I have not had a chance to speak with them. I will try to find out more about it and let you know in a future post.

Entering the inside was another nice surprise. Marble and wooden tables, the place conveys a light and bright whitish feel without being cold. It’s spacious and inviting with a lot of different seating places, mixed through between small and large tables with plenty of different areas to hide or to prominently place yourself in everyones’s sight. On the wall are a few plaques on display confirming the participation in German barrista competitions suggesting that attention is given to latte art.

You need to place your order at the counter and then all food and drink is brought to your table. In addition to the selection of different coffees, there is also a nice selection of wines, cakes and food. Some nights you can come for a large buffet consisting of what appeared to be home cooked authentic Italian food.

All in all this place feels like it’s run by a nice italian or italian influenced family that simply enjoy good coffee and food. Not much that can go wrong.

So, having ordered a slice of the chocolate cake and a latte with soy milk Luke and I were anticipating whether the coffee would live up to our initial impressions.

Possibly the best coffee in Hamburg…

And it did! So, if anyone is still wondering whether there is good coffee in Hamburg, the answer is: yes! This is the place if you are looking for true attention to detail and good coffee. The coffee is smooth, creamy, good latte art and has nice finish on the pallate.

Due Baristi: Thank you for putting some passion into making your coffee. Thank you for understanding café culture. Thank you for getting it right.

This is hands down my favourite coffee place in Hamburg. Now, it’s over to you: What’s your favourite café? I would love to hear about your favourite coffee places in Germany or other European cities.


 My favourite coffee in Hamburg. Good coffee, nice and bright atmosphere, a great place for a lazy Sunday morning.

a great shot of kaffeine

The great lunch selection at kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield, London

So here we are on our tour of London. Instead of the usual visiting of sights or shopping tours we decided to visit London the way we usually like to visit cities: one café at a time, trying to find the best coffee in town.

It’s my favourite way of travelling, you end up seeing all the sights but in a fun relaxed way, you get to enjoy great coffee and you usually discover many gorgeous back streets that you will not find in any travel guide. Small cafés are simply at the heart of the culture of any city, or show the lack thereof.

On top of our list was ‘Kaffeine‘ at 66 Great Titchfield. An Australian/New Zealand operated store with (of course) a Synesso coffee machine. So here we were, our second café for the day after having visited ‘flat white‘ and a nice shopping stroll through Soho, London we were ready for the next shot of goodness.

And good it was indeed! A nice bright and friendly place with adequate seating and a large selection of sandwiches and other lunch items that we didn’t try but looked delicious and based on the Londoner queues that started to arrive at lunch time I am guessing we should have had lunch there as well – our seats where sought after by the crowds that arrived for lunch.

Coffee perfection at Kaffeine

The coffee was first class with friendly service, nice latte art – I just finished it too quickly. Really great coffee, their nice interior was a reflection of their attention to detail and passion for great café culture.

You won’t be disappointed by Kaffeine. They understand coffee and café culture. A great place to meet a friend to have a chat over a great cup of coffee or for lunch. High attention is given to the quality of beans, service and food selection. A+++

bonanza coffee heroes – one coffee to try before you die

‘There’s this place in Prenzlauer Berg, that has one of these special coffee machines of which just a few exist in Europe.’ explains our friend excited when she hears that we like coffee.

I am straight away interested, since up until that day I had not seen a Synesso coffee machine anywhere in Germany. Only in Australia. So, when I hear this I am hoping this might be the place.

So, on a hot Sunday afternoon just before we are due to leave back for Hamburg we decide to try this place out. Strange name: bonanza coffee heroes, but then it’s also cute. I used to like to watch Bonanza when I was seven. I am intrigued.

When we get to Oderberger Str. 35, Berlin is at its best. Loads of people hanging out in the park, it’s hot and everyone is enjoying a beautiful summer day in June. We get to the place and we can hear a few English speaking tourists sitting outside. The coffee in their hands looks promising and you are welcomed by a large coffee heaven sign saying: ‘Don’t die before trying’.

smooth café latte

But then it’s just after six and we haven’t eaten yet and this place only does cake, so in an attempt to not die before trying, we need to eat something rather substantial, rather soon. Having quite a few options on the same street, we end up having some Indian from across the road (quite nice as well) and then run back to the coffee shop to make sure we make it before it’s closed for the day.

The inside is quite small and has a cool mix of industrial concrete cosyness that you expect from funky café. And voilá – I  feel like hugging the barista when I see the beautiful Synesso machine!

We order our coffees but we are amused to see again that flat whites are a special small size and cost more than a regular latté.

I stick to latté and Luke goes for a cappucino. The first sip is like heaven. It has its own rich chocolate like interesting flavour and texture with a lot of depth to it.

I am in love and since the office I work at has a decent ECM machine named Don Vito (check out his FB fan page) and our entire office is in a coffee fever, I decide to buy a whole kg of coffee beans.

That’s when the trouble starts – there are no 1 kg bag, only 2 kg and the barista starts to fill it up in 250g steps…. when it comes to paying the EC machine is not working and all of this takes half an hour to work out.  But the staff is very nice and the owner tries to convince me to walk a mile to a cash machine, so that he can get his 25€ for a kg of coffee beans before he closes for the night. But I am wearing heels, so I don’t think so. So, unfortunately no extra nice coffee beans for our office.

But then I am sure I will be back and now I have something new to look forward to my next time in Berlin.


Great roast of coffee, well trained baristas and the perfect machine. Lacks a bit of inside seating space and warmth but all in all this place is about great coffee and it shows.

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.