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.

IN SUMMARY

 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.

IN SUMMARY
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+++

pasmarose – a day in lüneburg and the next door cafe

All but the weather looked promising for our Saturday afternoon coffee tour of Lüneburg. Qype and foursquare had some suggestions, as did google. Wikipedia told us that Lüneberg has more bars per square metre than any town in Europe other than Madrid and that fortunately, it had survived World War II completely intact.

We started at Anna’s Cafe and while Anna provided tasty cakes and a homely setting for a dreary afternoon, the coffee fell well short of the mark.  Froth full of bubbles, a coffee bowl not filled to the top and watery coffee.

café pasmarose in Lüneburg

Chandler’s Coffee understood the difference between a cafe latte and a cappuccino and served up espresso made from 100% Arabica seeds. Again however, I was somehow disappointed.  For my taste, the coffee was too bitter and the decor too Starkbucks. As I suspected on arrival, the smallish one-barista-only Elektra machine could not produce the goods.

We then made our way to Pasmarose. A bit out of the way, unless of course you have planned a Saturday afternoon trip to the Salzmuseum which lies directly at the cafe’s rear.  The decor and the layout were inviting. White and black tiles, sturdy tables and coffee and many other coffee accessories to purchase on display from A. Nannini, Beneficio, Santa Rosa and Varesina. Interesting inoffensive music to keep you relaxed.

The menu differentiated between filter coffee, espresso and espresso mit milch (with milk).  Under the ‘espresso mit milch’ section we were given the choice of ordering an espresso macchiato, a pingo, a cappuccino, cappuccino doppio, grosser cappuccino, flat white or latte macchiato.

nice latte art at café pasmarose

Here again we see another example of confusion over the flat white reigning in Europe.  While in Berlin we saw it described as a ‘small Australian coffee’, at Pasmarose it is bylined with the words ‘große tasse sanfter cappuccino.’ Hmmm… In any case, I ordered one and it came with minimal froth as hoped for.

The coffee turned to be gentle and buttery in taste.  Attention was paid to latte art and the service was very good.  The owners appear to be very customer conscious, and were seen lighting candles on tables, offering free slices of strawberry cake whilst being careful not to get in your way.  Happy to have a chat about the coffee also, if you are up for it.

IN SUMMARY

As Julia commented, we would be happy if this café opened up next door to our apartment!

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.

IN SUMMARY

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.

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.

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!

IN SUMMARY

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!

IN SUMMARY

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…

IN SUMMARY

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.