Other than a brief visit to old friends Black Gold, the first stop on my return to Amsterdam last month was Sango. Located in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic city centre on Stromarkt, a stone’s throw from the station, Sango is a relatively new addition, having opened since my previous visit in 2018. Spread over three floors of a beautiful building, dating from 1670, there’s a roastery and equipment showroom in the basement, with the counter and limited seating on the ground floor and more seating upstairs, all connected via a tight, winding spiral staircase. You’ll probably also meet Mocha, the resident coffee shop dog, who has her own spot at the front by the espresso machine.
While the building is worth a visit in its own right, the coffee is just as big a draw. Everything is roasted on the 1.5 kg roaster in the basement, which you can see through a glass panel in the floor, or (more typically) on a 15 kg Giesen in a dedicated off-site roastery. Serving only single-origins, there’s a choice of espresso, batch brew filter or two options on pour-over using the Origami filter. There’s also cake, pastries and a range of toasted sandwiches.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Speciality coffee is still relatively rare in central Amsterdam, making Sango something of a find. Under 10 minutes’ walk west of the station, it overlooks the northern end of the Singel, the inner-most of Amsterdam’s semi-circular ring of canals. The tall (seven storey), narrow building is gorgeous, standing on the corner with Gouwenaarssteeg, a narrow alley which runs down the right-hand side of the building.
Sango is set well back from the narrow Stromarkt, its thin, central door flanked by multi-paned windows on either side, another row of windows across the top. There’s a vestibule-like area inside, with a small, tiled area off to your right. A bench stands against the right-hand wall, which runs at an angle of about 60° to the front of Sango, while against the left-hand wall, which is at a more conventional 90° to the front, an elevated platform houses the espresso machine.
The vestibule is open all the way to the top of the first floor, two glorious chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling. A few metres back, a line of windows runs the full width of Sango, marking the front of the first-floor seating area. The main part of Sango is underneath this, accessed via two broad, wooden steps which run between the espresso machine and the right-hand wall. The counter is on the left, where you order and pay, while on the right, a tight, spiral staircase leads down to the roastery/showroom basement, or up to the first-floor seating area.
Stepping between the two takes you over a glass panel in the floor where, if you look down, you’ll see the top of the 1.5 kg Giesen roaster beneath your feet. There’s limited seating in the back of Sango, where a built-in sofa bench is on the right, beyond the stairs. This provides three square tables, a three-person one at either end and a two-person one in the middle. There are also three chairs on the raised platform at the front, facing the espresso machine, with their backs to you as you enter. However, this is the domain of both the barista and Mocha, so you’ll need their permission to sit here.
Alternatively, head upstairs to what is effectively a mezzanine, floor-to-ceiling windows running along the front. A two-person sofa, its back to the room, faces the windows, with some neat views looking down on the entrance to Sango and, beyond that, across to the Singel. Another sofa’s tucked away in the back, right-hand corner, while if you want a table, you have a choice of two, a high, four-person one on the right, where windows look out onto the narrow Gouwenaarssteeg, and a more conventional four-person table on the left. There’s also a sideboard up here, with carafes of water, while each of the tables has its own copies of the menu (although you need to order at the counter downstairs).
Sango roasts all its own coffee, serving only single-origins. During my visit, the Petatán from Huehuetenango, Guatemala, was on espresso, with two choices on pour-over, the Kathunguri from Kirinyaga, Kenya, and the Esmeralda from Huila, Colombia. I tried them all, spread over three visits, starting with the Kathunguri on my first day in Amsterdam.
Served in the carafe with a smoked glass cup on the side and a little stroopwaffle, the Kathunguri was rich and full-bodied. I paired it with a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie, which was also very rich and moist. I returned twice during the week with various work colleagues, trying the Esmeralda, another fine coffee, more delicate and floral than the Kathunguri, while the Petatán, which I had as an espresso, was beautifully well-balanced.
As a parting gift, I provided Sango with a bag of the Thelma de Gutierrez, a black honey process coffee from El Salvador, roasted by Duchess Coffee Co, which I’d picked up in Java Squared in Exeter, New Hampshire, at the end of my previous trip to New England. In return, I bought a couple of bags of Sango’s coffee to keep the coffee-go-round going.
|STROMARKT 15 • 1012 SW AMSTERDAM • NETHERLANDS|
|Monday||08:30 – 16:00||Roaster||Sango (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Bench, Sofas (upstairs)|
|Wednesday||CLOSED||Food||Breakfast, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||CLOSED||Service||Order at Counter|
|Friday||08:30 – 16:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||08:30 – 15:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:30 – 15:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||4th, 6th, 10th March 2023|
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