Berlin baristas on fire

Can we blame the Europeans for Starbucks being so bad? Maybe I’m being a little unfair, but please bear with me. The Italians and Scandinavians have got coffee right, but much of Europe seems trapped in a love of filter coffee and burnt, watery espresso that tasted like someone emptied their ash-tray into your cup. Could it be that European immigrants took this knowledge to the New World, where Americans did what they best and made the same coffees bigger and better (worse)? From kleiner brauner to gande latte enema in the blink of an eye. But luckily, the scene across Europe is improving – see my post on Paris coffee. Here’s my take on Berlin.

You have to love the Germans – after all, they come from a land of beer and chocolate, eat copious amounts of pork and schnitzel, and have a working public transport system (this last face is particularly impressive if you’re from Sydney). Great coffee, however, is probably something that doesn’t readily spring to mind. But across Berlin, there’s a boutique espresso and roasting scene reminiscent of what’s happening in Paris.

Finding the right coffee is a Goldilocks affair – too bitter, too hot, too long, just right. Except this time I’ve tweaked the tale and took The Bear with me. I’ve already posted about my favourite Berlin cafe, Double Eye – which makes a gorgeous macchiato – but on the other (more popular) end of the city there’s a wealth to choose from. I’ll skip over a few – The Barn, Bonanza Coffee Roasters, Godshot – which are all fine cafes in the Prenzlauerberg vicinity but for one reason or another didn’t captivate me.

My pick of cafes in the north was No Fire, No Glory! (their exclamation mark, not mine). Cool, sexy, just a little moody (like The Bear till she’s fed), great coffee and a nice place to hang out – made easier by the plethora of Australia baristas and free wifi. A little further south in Kreuzberg you have have have to try the homemade cheesecake at Five Elephant Coffee Roastery & Cake Shop. They also do fabulous coffee (more Australian baristas in the mix – if you were a regular at Mecca or Campos you’ll know what I mean) – worth the walk from the Ubahn. But sharing cake with The Bear (as I’ve warned before) is a fraught task – best to order two slices.

The Berlin coffee scene is another sign that this cosmopolitan city is starting to boom. I can’t wait for the food scene to catch up. In the meantime, the beer and schnitzel are fabulous.

No Fire, No Glory!

No Fire, No Glory!


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Categories: Berlin, Coffee


coffee, food, calculated rambling


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