Caffènation, Amsterdam

A piccolo, made with the house blend at Caffènation in Amsterdam, and served in an espresso cup.I first came across Antwerp’s Caffènation as a roaster when I visited Loustic in Paris in 2014 and again the following year at Kofra in Norwich. Ever since I’ve been a big fan of Caffènation’s coffee so when I had the opportunity to visit Caffènation in Amsterdam, I jumped at the chance. Note that despite the name, this is independent from the roastery/coffee shops in Antwerp, set up (with Caffènation’s blessing) by an ex-employee in 2014.

On the western side of Amsterdam, south of Rembrandtpark and west of Vondelpark, Caffènation sits on a corner, the shop spread over several levels upstairs, with a wonderful basement below. If that doesn’t appeal, you can sit outside on one of several folding chairs on the broad pavement.

Other than the building, the focus is all on the coffee, which comes from the Antwerp roastery. There’s a seasonal blend on espresso, used for milk-based drinks, with a weekly single-origin used for black drinks. Alternatively, Caffènation always has a Kenyan single-origin on batch-brew, which is joined by another weekly single-origin.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Standing on a fairly nondescript street corner in Amsterdam...
  • ... is Caffènation, as far from nondescript as you can get!
  • Here's a shot when it's open and the tables are out (you can tell it's open by all the bikes!).
  • Some of the outside seating, seen from the door.
  • Inside, and the doormat is about the only part of Caffènation that's at street level.
  • The counter, on the left, is elevated and separated from the door by an open stairwell...
  • ... while the seating also slightly higher up, accessed via a couple of broad steps.
  • Things start to the right of the door with this strange, floor-level seat...
  • ... which is followed by this three-seater sofa, unusually positioned because...
  • ... in most coffee shops, the seats face inwards, whereas this has its back to the shop!
  • There's a four-person table in the back right-hand corner...
  • ... and next to this, against the back wall, a large, round table...
  • ... which can seat up to seven.
  • There's more seating on the left-hand side, where this alcove extends towards the back.
  • There's a two-person table on the right and these interesting armchairs to the left...
  • .. while at the back, surrounded by filing cabinets, is another two-person table.
  • The only other seating upstairs is this small, three-person bar...
  • ... which, extending from the side of the counter, overlooks the stairs.
  • The counter, and the Kees van der Westen espresso machine also overlook the stairs...
  • ... which lead down to a large basement.
  • Let's take a look, shall we? This is the view of the stairs from just inside the door.
  • All you have to do is turn left....
  • ... and follow the stairs down, whereupon the basement opens out before you.
  • There's a large, oval table off to the right, with narrow, pavement-level windows above.
  • The remainder of the basement is in an L-shape, much like the upstairs...
  • ... with an extension at the back on the left-hand side.
  • Reaching the bottom of the stairs, here's the oval table again, while moving along...
  • ... there's a pair of padded chairs and a triangular table opposite the bottom of the stairs.
  • Meanwhile there is more seating (and windows) at the front to the left of the stairs.
  • Next comes a four-person table along the left-hand wall...
  • ... followed by the same, narrow extension that we saw above.
  • This time there's a pair of old school desks and a blackboard on the right...
  • ... while at the back on the left, a small, round table followed by two more padded chairs.
  • Looking the other way and you get a good view of the seating at the front.
  • Time to go back upstairs.
  • There's some amazing artwork at Caffènation, mostly painted onto the walls. This...
  • ... and this are some of the examples from the basement...
  • ... while these pictures hang upstairs.
  • There are plenty of windows upstairs, but also plenty of light fittings such as these...
  • ... while there are also more elaborate ones such as this one.
  • Naturally, Caffènation has its fair share of exposed bulbs, some fancy...
  • ... and some more plain.
  • So, to business and the counter, which is to your left as you enter...
  • ... although to get there, you have to go up and all the way around. It's an open affair...
  • ... with the espresso machine off to one side, and the till just out of shot to the left.
  • The coffee, unsurprisingly, comes from Caffènation in Antwerp.
  • Menus, meanwhile, are dotted around on all the tables.
  • If you stand by the till, you do get a good look at the barista at work.
  • And, of course, you can watch your espresso shot being pulled.
  • I had a piccolo, served in an espresso cup...
  • ... with some lovely latte art in such a small space...
  • ... which, impressively, lasted all the way to the bottom of the cup.
Photo Carousel by v4.6

Caffènation stands on the corner of Warmondstraat and Theophile de Bockstraat, one block from the Westlandgracht canal. The building itself is a fairly modern, brick-built affair, with a handful of folding chairs outside on the broad pavement of Warmondstraat. There’s a large window on each side. The one on the right, on Theophile de Bockstraat, has a large central pane, while on the front wall, facing onto Warmondstraat, is split into two large panes with the door on the right.

Caffènation has an interesting layout quite unlike anything I’ve seen in the roughly 1,000 coffee shops I’ve visited in my time writing the Coffee Spot. About the only thing at ground level is the doormat, with a couple of broad steps leading up to the rest of the ground floor, while to the left, an open staircase leads down to a large basement.

The counter, meanwhile, is slightly above you and to your left, but on the other side of the stairwell, which means that you have to go all the way around the upstairs to get there, which you need to do so you can order and pay. The seating is arranged in an L-shape both upstairs and down. Starting upstairs, there’s a solitary armchair on the floor at the top of the steps, followed by a three-seat sofa which, unusually, has its back to the coffee shop, instead looking out through the large window onto Theophile de Bockstraat. There are two tables beyond this against the back wall, a four-person rectangular one on the right and round, seven-person one on the left. Beyond this, there’s an extension at the back on the left-hand side with more seating options: a pair of two-person tables and a pair of basket-shaped armchairs. Finally, a narrow, three-person bar extends to the right of the counter overlooking the open staircase.

Downstairs, there’s a similarly eclectic range of seating, including a large, oval table to the right of the stairs, a pair of padded chairs with a triangular table and, at the front on the left, another small, round table and a bar-like table against the front wall. There’s a similar extension at the back on the left-hand side, starting with a four-person table against the left-hand wall. This is followed by another small, round table and a pair of padded chairs at the back. Perhaps the best part, though, was the pair of old school desks and a blackboard against the right-hand wall!

Back upstairs, the counter is an open, horseshoe-shaped affair. Looking towards the front of Caffènation, there’s a three-group Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine on the left-hand side, overlooking the stairwell, with the till just in front of it, where you order and pay. There’s also a small retail section up here, select bags of beans and a limited range of coffee kit.

I arrived late one afternoon, not realising that, during the summer, Caffènation closes at 5pm rather than 6pm. So, instead of having a leisurely hour to explore what is a rather wonderful, quirky space with some fantastic artwork, I only had time for a quick piccolo, made with the house blend. This, however, was very fine, a lovely, rich, well-balanced coffee which produced some wonderful biscuit notes in milk. The latte art also held to the bottom of the cup, which is always a good sign.

Monday 08:00 – 18:00 Roaster Caffènation (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Sofa, Comfy Chairs; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:00 Food N/A
Thursday 08:00 – 18:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 18:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain International Visits 25th June 2018

If you’d like to learn more about my trip to Amsterdam in June 2018, including all the coffee shops I visited, and my journey there and back by Eurostar, please check out the trip’s Travel Spot page.

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