Returning to Berlin for the first time with my Coffee Spot hat on, I was spoilt for choice. In truth, any of the wonderful places I visited could have graced my first Berlin Coffee Spot, but it really pleases me to feature 19grams, which began life as Tres Cabezas in 2002. I wanted to visit the original Tres Cabezas on Boxhagener Straße in Friedrichshain, but when I popped by on Sunday, it was being renovated. Instead, I walked across the Spree on the wonderful Oberbaum Bridge to Kreuzberg and 19grams Schlesi, around the corner on Schlesische Straße.
This is a lovely spot, with a bright, airy front room, where you’ll find the counter, and a cool, airy back room, which shares the space with the open kitchen. Alternatively, you can sit outside at one of five tables on the pavement next to the noisy street. The draw, of course, is the coffee, with 19grams offering two options on espresso (one for black drinks, the other to go with milk), plus batch brew filter, the coffee, all roasted in-house, changing on a regular basis. However, the food is just as good, the small brunch menu and sharing plates cooked to order.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
There’s a synchronicity to my first Coffee Spot featuring 19grams. I came to Berlin by train, Eurostar to Brussels, then a pair of ICE trains onwards to Berlin. It was my first time on Eurostar since 2018, when I went to Amsterdam to attend the World of Coffee, where I first met the 19grams team. We caught up again in 2019 at London Coffee Festival, where I was very impressed with an espresso made with a naturally-processed Costa Rican Geisha. Naturally, I was keen to try more of 19grams’ excellent coffee on my return to Berlin.
19grams Schlesi started life five years ago in the smaller unit next door to its currently location, moving just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the street, there doesn’t seem to be much to it, just tall, narrow windows recessed between thick, stone-clad pillars. There are five four-person tables on the pavement, four in front of the windows and one by the road. With 19grams on the north side of the street, these catch the afternoon sun in full.
The entrance is to the right of the central pillar, two broad, concrete steps leading up to the door. This blends seamlessly with one of the tall, narrow windows, which, on the sunny day I was there, was drawn right back, concertina-style. There is a second window to the left of the pillar, but otherwise, that’s it. Inside, however, is a bright, airy space, with the counter at the back on the left, and the seating arranged along the front and down the right-hand wall.
To the left of the door, four two-person tables occupy the window opposite the counter, while to the right, a round, four-person table sits in window. Behind the round table, along the right-hand wall, are a pair of two-person tables, followed by three two-person tables and, right at the back, a solitary two-person table.
However, that’s not all. A broad opening in the back wall, just to the right of the counter, leads to the second space. This goes a long way back, with the open kitchen on the left and a row of tables on the right, five in all, three two-person and two four-person. There’s also a sofa in the left-hand corner at the back, just beyond the kitchen. Finally, a corridor continues along the right-hand wall to the toilets, leading past on a large, open space with a 10-person communal table.
You order at the counter, where you’ll find the till at the left-hand end, next to retail shelves packed with bags of coffee on the left-hand wall. The cakes are also down here and, while there is a printed menu on the counter-top, you’re encouraged to scan a QR Code (there’s one on each table) and view the menu online.
I’d come for lunch, arriving just in time, since the kitchen closes at 16:00. I had the superb Bacon Brioche (with coffee-roasted mushrooms instead of the coffee-cure bacon) to which I added a poached egg. I also ordered a side of sourdough toast, which can sometimes be disappointing, although this was anything but, crisp and crunchy, the perfect foil for my Bacon Brioche.
And, of course, there was coffee. During my visit, the espresso options were the Wild At Heart blend for milk-based drinks, the Migu Anaerobic Natural from China for black espresso drinks and the Ethiopia Bombe Natural on batch brew. Remembering the espresso from the London Coffee Festival, I went for a double espresso here. Served in an oversized cup, it was awesome, smooth and well-balanced, the perfect welcome back to Berlin.
|SCHLESISCHE STRAßE 38 • 10997 BERLIN • GERMANY|
|19grams.coffee||+49 (0) 30 5266 9796|
|Monday||08:00 – 18:00||Roaster||19grams (espresso + batch brew)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 18:00||Seating||Tables, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 18:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:00 – 18:00||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:00 – 18:00||Payment||Card Only|
|Saturday||10:00 – 18:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||10:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||Local||Visits||8th May 2022|
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