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.
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.
|WARMONDSTRAAT 120 • 1058 KZ AMSTERDAM • NETHERLANDS|
|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||Cards||Yes|
|Saturday||09:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||10:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||International||Visits||25th June 2018|
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