Brian's Coffee Spot

Devoted to Coffee

Berlin & Köln by Train, May 2022

A view across Berlin from Potsdamer Platz to the Berliner Fernsehturm in Alexanderplatz, with the Berliner Dom in the foreground to the left, the spire of St. Marienkirche between them. Meanwhile, to the right, the tower of the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche in Gendarmenmarkt is in the foreground to the right, with the dome of the Humboldt Forum behind that, while to the right of the Humboldt Forum is the red brick clock tower of the Rotes Rathaus (City Hall).In May 2022, I went on my first large European trip since I started the Coffee Spot, built around a week-long work meeting in Berlin, the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also my first time travelling since I’d pledged not to fly shorthaul in Europe unless I absolutely had to. As a result, I found myself taking the train, which, if I’m honest, was one of the best parts of the trip, marking a long overdue first European train adventure for the Travel Spot.

I bought a four-day Eurail pass, which meant that I could travel for free (almost) anywhere in Europe on any four days in a 30-day period, although I could only travel in the UK on the first and last of my four days. As a result, I decided to go out to Berlin in a day, setting off from Guildford. I travelled on the Friday before my meeting, giving me a weekend to explore Berlin, and then I took the weekend after the meeting to do some more exploring, before setting off on my return the following Monday,

To make the most of my Eurail pass, I broke my journey for three days in Köln, before travelling back from there in a day to Flint on the Friday, two weeks after I’d set off. However, this left me with a spare day on my Eurail pass and, rather than let that go to waste, I took a day trip to Mainz along the banks of the Rhine.

The various train journeys are covered in the Travel Spots below, which I’ve split into the journey out, and my return from Berlin, while you can also read about the Coffee Spots I visited in Berlin, Köln and Mainz.


Header Image: A view along the Rhine from the train on the way to Mainz, looking across to Filsen, on the other side of the river, with the Kirche St. Margaretha, while ahead, on this bank, are the twin spires of Karmeliterkirche in Boppard.


Train to Berlin

You can read all about my journey to Berlin by train in a day, starting at Guildford and going via Brussels and Köln, in the following Travel Spot posts.


Brian’s Travel Spot: UK to Berlin by Train, Part I - Planning

Details of my Eurail mobile pass for my journey from the UK to Berlin in May 2022.In the years running up to the COVID-19 pandemic, I travelled an awful lot for work, which mostly meant flying to various locations around the world, including trips to Rome and Prague. In 2020, I made a conscious decision to travel to European destinations by train wherever possible. I even had a trip to Stockholm lined up, with all the tickets booked, for April 2020. And then COVID-19 happened.

When work announced that face-to-face meetings would resume in May 2022 after a gap of more than two years, the first meeting was in Berlin. True to my word, I decided to travel by train, even though flying would have been much more straightforward, quicker and, arguably, cheaper. The resulting trip involved eight trains spread over three days (with a bonus day out by train thrown in for good measure).

While the individual train journeys will be covered by in future instalments of this Travel Spot series, I wanted to start with a post about planning the trip. While I’m a great fan of train travel, preferring it over flying whenever possible, this trip was neither straightforward to plan or book, something which needs to change if we’re to encourage more train travel.

Continue reading...

Brian’s Travel Spot: UK to Berlin by Train, Part II – Eurostar to Brussels

The driving cab of Eurostar e320 (No. 4032) waiting on the platform at St Pancras International, ready to take me to Brussels Midi at the start of my trip to Berlin in May 2022.At the start of May, I travelled to Berlin for my first face-to-face work meeting in over two years. I’d already decided that, when travelling in Europe, I would go by train rather than fly wherever possible, so I set about planning my trip. This turned out to be far more complicated than I’d hoped and a lot less straightforward than flying, even though I was only dealing with two train companies. Rather than booking the trains direct, I discovered that it was cheaper (and far more convenient) to buy a Eurail pass, which would cover my whole trip, with a bonus day trip thrown in for good measure, which I wrote about in the first instalment of this Travel Spot series.

My itinerary took me from Guildford to Berlin in a day, travelling via Brussels and Köln. This journey is the subject of the next three instalments in the series, starting with the Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels Midi. From there, I took an ICE to Köln, where I changed for another ICE to Berlin. First, however, I had to get to St Pancras, which meant setting off from Guildford Station on the 06:33 train to London.

Continue reading...

Brian’s Travel Spot: UK to Berlin by Train, Part III – ICE to Köln

The driving cab of my ICE 3 on the platform at Köln, having brought me from Brussels Midi, where I changed for the final leg of my trip to Berlin in May 2022.Welcome to the third instalment of my Travel Spot series about travelling from the UK to Berlin by train. Part I covered planning the trip, which was far more complicated than I’d hoped. I discovered that the cheapest/most convenient option was to buy a Eurail pass, which covered my whole trip, with a bonus day trip thrown in for good measure.

I made the journey at the start of May, my itinerary taking me from Guildford to Berlin in a day, travelling via Brussels and Köln. I wrote about the first leg of the journey, which saw me arrive in Brussels Midi onboard the Eurostar, in Part II of the series. From there, I had two more trains left, both German high-speed ICE services. This first, from Brussels to Köln, is the subject of today’s instalment (Part III), while the second, from Köln to Berlin, is covered in Part IV.

Continue reading...

Brian’s Travel Spot: UK to Berlin by Train, Part IV – ICE to Berlin

The rear power car of my ICE 1, standing on the platform at Berlin Hauptbahnhof in the evening sun, having brought me all the way from Köln.Welcome to the fourth and final instalment of my Travel Spot series, covering the train journey I made at the start of May, going from Guildford to Berlin in a day. Part I of the series covered planning the trip, while Part II was all about the first leg of the journey, which saw me arrive in Brussels Midi onboard the Eurostar. I then changed to the German high-speed ICE (Inter City Express), taking an ICE 3 to Köln, which I covered in Part III. The final leg of the journey, from Köln to Berlin, was also by ICE and is the subject of today’s instalment.

My experience on the ICE 3 to Köln was everything I’d hoped it would be: a fast, efficient journey on a modern, comfortable train, with the at-seat dining an added bonus, reinforcing my already favourable impression of German railways. Up until that point, everything had gone like clockwork, with all my trains on time and all my connections made. Sadly, that was the high-point of my experiences with the German rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, as everything pretty much went downhill from there, starting with my journey from Köln to Berlin.

Continue reading...

Return from Berlin

My return from Berlin, which included breaking my journey in Köln and a day-trip by train along the banks of the Rhine to Mainz, concluded with a day-long series of trains from Köln to Flint via Brussels and London. You can read all about it in the following Travel Spot posts.


Brian’s Travel Spot: Berlin to Köln by ICE

The front driving cab of the first set of two ICE 4 trains forming the 15:46 service to Düsseldorf/Köln, arriving at Berlin Hauptbahnhof.Welcome to the first instalment of my new Travel Spot series, covering my return by train from Berlin to the UK. While this saw me retrace my steps from the journey out (as far as London St Pancras), rather than doing everything in one day, I broke my journey at Köln, where I spent a few days before carrying on to the UK.

On my way out, because I needed to get all the way to Berlin in a single day, everything was very tightly planned, with reservations on all the various legs of the journey (Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels, ICE 3 from Brussels to Köln and ICE 1 from Köln to Berlin). On the way back, I could afford to be more flexible, particularly as the journey from Berlin to Köln is just over four hours, with hourly departures from Berlin.

In theory I could have done this by buying individual tickets for each leg, but since I was travelling on a Eurail pass, I could use any ICE train. This meant I was able to leave my decision as to which train to catch right up until the last minute, which is exactly what I did.

Continue reading...

Brian’s Travel Spot: Köln to Mainz by Train along the Rhine

The front of my ICE T train at Köln station.If you’ve been following my recent Travel Spot posts, you’ll know that on my way back to the UK from Berlin, I broke my journey at Köln, where I spent three days before continuing to Brussels and London St Pancras. I was travelling on a Eurail pass, one which allow me unlimited travel on four separate days. I’d used one to go from Guildford to Berlin, another to travel from Berlin to Köln, while my return to the UK would use the third, leaving me a day spare. Of course, I didn’t have to use it, but it seemed a shame to waste it, so I hit on a plan.

The first time I came to Köln was over 30 years ago, also travelling on a Eurail pass (back then known as an Interrail pass). I was on my way to Friedrichshafen, on the shore of the Bodensee, and I caught a train from Köln to Stuttgart, the line following the Rhine for the first part of the journey. The views captivated me, and I always hoped to return. Now, I had my chance, deciding to spend the spare day of my pass travelling from Köln to Mainz and back.

Continue reading...

Brian’s Travel Spot: Köln to Flint in a Day by Train

Eurostar e320 No. 4010 standing in the sun at London St Pancras, having just brought me back to the UK from Brussels.Welcome to the third and final instalment of my latest Travel Spot series, all about my return home by train from Berlin. The first part covered my journey from Berlin to Köln, where I spent a few days exploring the local coffee scene, as well as taking a day-trip by train along the Rhine to Mainz. The last stage of my journey was my return to the UK, which involved retracing my steps from the journey out as far as London St Pancras. However, while I’d set off from Guildford, I was returning to North Wales and Flint station, which was part of the reason I’d broken my return journey in Köln.

I’d done Guildford to Berlin in a day and while I could, in theory, have done Berlin to Flint in a day, it would have required a very early start and any missed connections would have probably been disastrous. In contrast, by travelling from Köln, I could have a relatively relaxed start, catching the 09:42 to Brussels, where I’d have an hour and 20 minutes before my Eurostar to London, arriving at 14:00, rounding things off with the 16:10 Avanti West Coast service from London Euston, direct to Flint.

Continue reading...

Coffee Spots

You can read about all the Coffee Spots I visited in Berlin, during my short break in Köln and, finally, on my day-trip to Mainz, all listed alphabetically by city, starting with Berlin.

Berlin

I spent the weekends before and after my meeting exploring as much of Berlin’s wonderful speciality coffee scene as I could.

19grams Schlesi

The bottom of my coffee cup at 19grams Schlesi in Berlin, having finished a double espresso to reveal the slogan "Bloody Good Coffee".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.

Continue reading...

Ben Rahim, Berlin

The Ben Rahim logo, a stylised two-dimensional drawing of a tree with the words "BEN RAHIM" underneath.Ben Rahim, one of Berlin’s lesser-known speciality coffee names (outside of Berlin that is), came highly recommended by various people, both online and in other Berlin speciality coffee shops that I visited. It also features in the Double Skinny Macchiato guide to Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg. Ben Rahim is unusual in that its owner is from Tunisia and, having recently opened a shop in Tunis, it’s technically an international coffee shop chain (of two).

Ben Rahim opened in 2015, occupying a small shop on an alleyway leading into the famous Hackesche Höfe in Mitte in the heart of Berlin. Towards the end of 2019, Ben Rahim expanded into the adjacent space, now its current home, when the previous tenants, a clothes shop, moved out. All the coffee is roasted in Berlin on behalf of Ben Rahim, with a blend, a single-origin and decaf on espresso, backed up by a blend and two more single-origins on filter via the Clever Dripper. True to its Tunisian origins, these two single-origins are also offered via the ibrik, along with a range of signature drinks and a small selection tea, all backed up by a small range of cakes, pastries and filled croissants.

Continue reading...

Bonanza Gendarmenmarkt

My espresso, the Sasaba, a naturally-processed single-origin from Ethiopia, seen from above, along with a glass of water and a piece of shortbread, all enjoyed while sitting out in the courtyard at Bonanza Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin.Exactly two weeks ago today, I left Berlin after a whirlwind couple of weekends exploring the city’s excellent speciality coffee scene. Along the way, I hit up some legendary names whose fame has spread far beyond Germany, including The Barn, Five Elephant and Bonanza Coffee. Another coffee shop chain with a roastery in Kreuzberg, Bonanza is fairly small, just two coffee shops in addition to the original roastery/coffee shop. It’s also venerable (in speciality coffee terms), founded in 2006.

The subject of today’s Coffee Spot is something of a rarity: a Berlin speciality coffee shop in a mainstream tourist setting. Located on Jägerstraße, just south of the famous Unter den Linden, Bonanza Coffee is right next to Gendarmenmarkt, one of Berlin’s most picture-perfect squares. Bonanza occupies an interesting series of spaces, with a handful of tables outside on the pavement and more seating in a lovely interior courtyard. And then there’s the coffee, with two choices on espresso (a blend for milk-based drinks and a single-origin for espressos/Americanos) plus two single-origins on batch-brew. These are all roasted in Kreuzberg, with even more beans available in retail bags. If you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes to go with your coffee.

Continue reading...

Coffee Circle Café – Mitte

A flat white, served in a classic white cup but on an off-centre, non-circular saucer, at Coffee Circle Café – Mitte in Berlin.I didn’t know much about Coffee Circle before travelling to Berlin at the start of May. However, enough people recommended Coffee Circle to me once I arrived that I added it to my list. Coffee Circle began as a roastery specialising in direct trade in 2010, only opening its first café three years ago (in Wedding, Berlin, in the same building complex as the roastery). Since then, there have been two more, one on Bergmannstraße near Tempelhof and the other, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße in the heart of Mitte.

From the street, there isn’t much to Coffee Circle, but inside, the café goes a long way back, all the way to the rear of the building, where windows look into a modern courtyard. There’s space for 12 people at tables outside on the pavement, while there’s plenty more seating in the spacious interior. A very limited (and entirely vegetarian) snack menu is joined by a selection of cake, but the real draw is the coffee, all roasted in-house, with the Cerrado, a naturally-processed Brazilian coffee, on espresso, joined by a regularly-changing second single-origin option, along with another single-origin on batch brew and two more on pour-over.

Continue reading...

Father Carpenter

The name board for Father Carpenter, Coffee Brewers, in Berlin.In a city where coffee and cake is the business model for the majority of speciality coffee shops, Berlin’s Father Carpenter stands out for its coffee and brunch approach, no doubt influenced by its Australian owner. Since 2015, Father Carpenter has been serving excellent coffee and fantastic brunches from an amazing courtyard just off Münzstraße in the heart of Mitte, where you can sit outside in the courtyard or be shown to a table in the spacious dining room (Father Carpenter has table service).

Its secluded setting makes Father Carpenter the perfect escape from the hustle of the Mitte’s busy streets, although be aware that it’s very busy itself, often with a wait for a table. I popped by on three separate occasions (four if you count Friday evening, when it was closed) and it was only on my last visit that I was able to get a table without a wait.

Father Carpenter has a concise but interesting brunch menu, along with a small selection of baguettes and pastries. There’s a standard espresso-based menu with non-dairy alternatives and decaf, along with two filter options: regular or exotic, plus loose leaf tea, various iced options and a selection of soft drinks.

Continue reading...

Filter Tasting Flight at Bonanza Coffee

One of the three filter coffees in the filter tasting flight at the Bonanza Coffee roastery in Kreuzberg, served in a glass carafe with the cup placed on top as a lid.When I was in Berlin last month, one of the highlights of my weekend exploration of the city’s speciality coffee scene was Bonanza Coffee Gendarmenmarkt. I spent the following day, a Sunday, strolling around Kreuzberg, arguably the birthplace of Berlin’s speciality coffee scene, where I popped by the Bonanza Coffee Roastery, which doubles as a lovely coffee shop. Well, I say “popped by”, but that understates the deliberate nature of my visit. Tucked away in a large courtyard, accessed down a long road from Adalbertstraße, the Bonanza Roastery is not somewhere you’d stumble across, or, indeed “pop by”, unless you already knew it was there.

It's a lovely spot, quiet and sheltered, with plenty of outdoor seating and even more inside, where the coffee shop, at the front, shares the space with the roastery at the back. It was also incredibly popular and my original plan, which had been to write it up as a Coffee Spot, went out of the window almost immediately. However, I noticed something that I always love to see on the menu: a filter tasting flight. That, I thought, will make an excellent subject for a Saturday Supplement. And you know what? I was right!

Continue reading...

Five Elephant Kreuzberg

A lovely espresso, served in a classic white cup, at Five Elephant Kreuzberg, sitting outside in the early evening sunshine.Continuing my exploration of Berlin’s excellent speciality coffee scene, Five Elephant is just a short stroll across Görlitzer Park in Kreuzberg from Monday’s Coffee Spot, 19grams. Another of Berlin’s well-known roasters, this is where it all started for Five Elephant, when it opened the first of its (currently four) coffee shops 10 years ago on the leafy Reichenberger Straße. It’s still the heart of the operation, with all the cakes being baked just along the street and the roastery (sadly not open to the public) just around the corner on Glogauer Straße.

Five Elephant Kreuzberg styles itself as a coffee and cake shop and that’s exactly what it is. Occupying two rooms on the ground floor of a lovely old Kreuzberg tenement, there’s as much seating inside as there is outside on the broad pavement, where you enjoy the shade of some magnificent, mature trees. When it comes to coffee, there’s a single-origin on espresso with another batch brew filter, both changing daily from a seasonal selection of beans, typically five espresso roasts and five filter roasts, all of which are available to buy in retail bags. And then there are the cakes. Such gorgeous cakes…

Continue reading...

KaffeeKirsche Café & Bakery

A beautiful carafe of a V60 of the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Grassroots, a fine, rich, fruity, full bodied naturally-processed coffee, roasted and served by KaffeeKirsche Café & Bakery on a wooden tray with a cup on the side.When I went to Berlin in May, I already had a long list of coffee shops that I wanted to visit. However, KaffeeKirsche (literally, "coffee cherry") was a chance discovery on my last Sunday, which I spent wandering the streets of Kreuzberg, arguably the birthplace of Berlin’s speciality coffee scene. In a familiar story, KaffeeKirsche is a roastery with small chain of coffee shops (three so far), which started on Adalbertsraße (also home to Bonanza Coffee and The Visit).

I actually walked past the original café, which opened in 2014 and was also the original roastery, which looked interesting enough for me to do some quick online research (the joys of smartphones and free (for now) EU roaming). This led to the discovery of both the roastery café in Tempelhof and the café/bakery on Böckhstraße, which is where I ended up in my quest for lunch.

The café/bakery occupies a spacious corner spot with plenty of seating inside and out. Brunch is served until three o’clock, while the cake selection is available all day. There’s a standard espresso-based menu, a pair of single-origins on pour-over via the V60 and a range of tea and other drinks.

Continue reading...

Meier’s – Vietnamese Specialty Coffee

Doing what it says on the window: Meier’s – Vietnamese Specialty CoffeeBerlin’s has a vibrant and varied speciality coffee scene, with some world-famous roasters, such as Five Elephant, The Barn (both of whom I've already written about) and Bonanza Coffee (which will be featuring on the Coffee Spot). At the other end of the scale are the likes of Meier’s – Vietnamese Specialty Coffee, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot.

Meier’s opened in March 2021 in a modest spot on Gormannstraße in Mitte, an area, along with Kreuzberg, which is synonymous with speciality coffee in Berlin. In contrast to Berlin’s many other speciality coffee roaster/coffee shops, as the name suggests, Meier’s – Vietnamese Specialty Coffee deals exclusively in Vietnamese-grown Arabica coffee, roasted for Meier’s by Là Việt, a coffee shop/roaster in the Dalat coffee-growing region of Vietnam, who then air-freights it to Berlin.

Meier’s has a standard espresso menu, using the E1 blend, plus a V60 pour-over offering with a choice of two single-origins, the honey-processed Datanla and the naturally-processed D’Ran during my visit. However, if you’re feeling more adventurous, both single-origins are also available through the cà phê phin, the traditional Vietnamese cup-top filter. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes, joined on the weekend by Bao buns.

Continue reading...

Nano Kaffee

A flat white in classic white cup, with some complex latte art, made with Nano Kaffee's naturally-processed O Pássaro single-origin espresso from Brazil.I am indebted to my friend and fellow coffee blogger Bex, of Double Skinny Macchiato fame for bringing Nano Kaffee to my attention. Bex visited Berlin in December 2018, and her first stop was Nano Kaffee, where she very kindly bought me a bag of the Kikirima, a single-origin from Kenyan which I enjoyed through my V60. Naturally, when I decided to go on a mini-tour of Kreuzberg on my last Sunday in Berlin, I too had to start with a visit to Nano Kaffee.

Nano Kaffee is on Dresdener Straße, a quiet street that connects Oranienplatz with Kottbusser Tor, where there’s a convenient U-Bahn station. Like almost all of the speciality coffee shops that I visited in Germany, Nano Kaffee, which opened in 2014, is both a roaster and a coffee shop, although unlike many of its contemporaries (such as Bonanza, The Barn, Five Elephant and 19grams), it only has a single coffee shop (although a second hasn’t been ruled out).

Nano Kaffee is a delightful spot, with a simple, open layout and plenty of outdoor seating on the quiet street. There’s a very concise espresso-based menu, plus batch brew filter, tea, hot chocolate and a small selection of cake.

Continue reading...

The Barn Schönhauser Allee

A V60 of the Radiophare, a naturally-processed coffee from Indonesia, served in a carafe with a cup on the side, all presented on a wooden tray.When talking of speciality coffee in Berlin, you can’t avoid The Barn, which now boasts 10 Berlin coffee shops, two more overseas (Mallorca, Dubia) and an international reputation for roasting excellent coffee. It’s all the more impressive considering that The Barn only started 12 years ago with the original Mitte coffee shop. Sadly, I couldn’t make it there, going instead for the next best thing, the original roastery/coffee shop on nearby Schönhauser Allee. The Barn’s second location when it opened in 2012, all the coffee was roasted here until the new roastery/coffee shop opened on Voltastraße in late 2020.

These days, Schönhauser Allee is “just” a coffee shop, a large, welcoming space with a massive counter and plenty of seating inside and out. Unusually, there’s no printed menu, either on the counter or displayed on the walls. Instead, a QR Code invites you online for the latest menu, where you’ll find a standard seasonal offering across all The Barn’s Berlin locations. This includes a concise espresso-based menu, two options on pour-over through the V60, plus cold brew, tea, hot chocolate and a range of cakes. The specific beans (all single-origins) vary by location, chosen by the baristas every few days.

Continue reading...

The Visit Coffee & Eatery, Nürnbergerstraße

A espresso in a wide-brimmed white cup with a V on the front (for The Visit).Just two weeks ago I was in Berlin, at my first face-to-face work meeting since early 2020. It was also my first to Berlin in the Coffee Spot era. My initial research suggested that speciality coffee was to be found in the east, in Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg, whereas I was in a hotel in the heart of old West Berlin, just to the south of the Zoological Garden, an area where speciality coffee was in short supply.

Fortunately, this proved to be an overstatement, with both Five Elephant and The Barn having locations within easy walking distance. Unfortunately, they didn’t open until 11:00, which is where The Visit Coffee & Eater came in. Literally down the street from my hotel, and opening at 07:30, I could walk over, grab a flat white and make it back before the start of my meeting.

As well as some excellent coffee on espresso, batch brew and pour-over, as the name suggests, The Visit is one of those rare Berlin coffee shops that also does food, with an interesting brunch menu, plus a range of bagels, cakes and pastries. There’s plenty of seating outside on the pavement, as well more tables inside.

Continue reading...

Köln

I only spent three days in Köln, so I had limited time to explore, but I did manage to visit a few Coffee Spots as I wandered around.

Blooming Coffee Bar

An espresso, made with the Todos Santos, a washed coffee from Guatemala, roasted by Blooming Coffee Roastery and served in Blooming Coffee Bar, presented in a gorgeous, handleless ceramic Aoomi cup, handmade in Poland.When I visited Köln on my way back from Berlin in May, I had two coffee shops to visit, The Coffee Gang and Ernst Kaffeeröster. However, I quickly added a third, Blooming Coffee Bar, which came highly recommended by the locals. Blooming Coffee Roastery & Coffee Bar (in true German fashion, it’s both roaster and coffee shop) only opened its coffee bar last summer, on Leonhard-Tietz-Straße in the city centre, although the roasting part has been going for a little longer.

As a coffee shop, it’s very modern, with a clean interior design and décor. It’s the first coffee shop I’ve visited that uses the Decent Espresso machine, which was designed with the home market in mind. There’s a choice of two single-origins, served from a very concise menu, while for filter, there’s batch brew and four single-origins, each matched to either V60 or Kalita Wave. There’s also a selection of tea and a small collection of cakes/pastries.

The design aesthetic extends to the cups and servers (both by Kinto) for the filter coffee, while for espresso, there are some gorgeous ceramic Aoomi cups, handmade in Poland. Naturally, they’re all available to buy, along with the coffee beans and tea.

Continue reading...

Ernst Kaffeeröster, Bonner Straße

A fine flat white, made with the house blend and served in a classic black cup at Ernst Kaffeeröster on Bonner Straße in Köln.When it comes to speciality coffee in Köln, Ernst Kaffeeröster is one of the city’s pioneers, having first opened in 2014 on Bonner Straße, in the new town south of the centre. In true German fashion, Ernst Kaffeeröster is both coffee shop and roaster, and you can still see the original roaster, a 5 kg Diedrich, behind the counter at Bonner Straße, although these days it’s only used to roast some of the single-origins. Instead, there’s a 20 kg roaster in a dedicated facility, which opened in 2016, while in April, a month before my visit, a second coffee shop was opened on Weyertal, near the university.

The original Ernst Kaffeeröster is a modest spot, offering a handful of tables inside, plus two more outside on the pavement, along with a solitary bench. The draw is the coffee, with a blend and single-origin on espresso, along with batch brew, AeroPress and Kalita Wave if you prefer filter coffee. The single-origin espresso changes every month, while for AeroPress and Kalita Wave, you can have any of Ernst Kaffeeröster’s filter coffees. There’s also tea, hot chocolate, various cold coffee options and, if you’re hungry, a selection of pastries, cakes, baguettes and granola.

Continue reading...

The Coffee Gang, Hohenstaufenring

A lovely flat white, made with The Coffee Gang's bespoke house blend, and served in a glass at the original coffee shop on Hohenstaufenring.On my way back from my recent visit to Berlin, I stopped in Köln for a few days, a city I’d previously only passed through. With just a couple of days to explore, I found a vibrant (albeit small but growing) speciality coffee scene, starting with The Coffee Gang, conveniently located around the corner from my hotel (which might have influenced my choice of lodging). In all, I visited three times, twice for breakfast, once for coffee and cake.

The Coffee Gang, which recently opened a second location north of the centre, has been serving up excellent coffee to the good folks of Köln since 2014. Located just north of the major interchange of Barbarossaplatz on the eastern side of the broad Hohenstaufenring, The Coffee Gang offers a bespoke espresso blend through a standard menu, plus two single-origins (all roasted by Munich’s JB Kaffee) on either batch brew or AeroPress. There’s also limited breakfast and lunch menus, plus various cakes. You can either sit outside, where six tables occupy the broad pavement in front of The Coffee Gang, or inside, where you have a choice of any of the 15 hexagonal tables which are mostly down the right-hand side.

Continue reading...

Mainz

Although my day trip to Mainz was mostly about the views from the train as I travelled along the Rhine, I did manage to visit one Coffee Spot when I got there.

Kaffeekommune

An espresso in a classic, thick-walled white cup, made with the lightly-roasted, naturally-processed Ethiopia Bombe G1.On my way back from Berlin in May, I broke my journey in Köln, from where I took a day trip by train along the Rhine to Mainz. The main reason for going was to enjoy the views along the Rhine, but while I was in Mainz, it seemed only fair that I try the local coffee scene. Sadly, due to delays and cancellations, I only had time for one stop, choosing Kaffeekommune as my destination (with thanks to European Coffee Trip for the heads-up).

Kaffeekommune is Mainz’s original speciality coffee shop, going strong since 2014 and, for the last two years, roasting its own coffee too (in an old car repair shop). There’s a wide range of coffee available (while I was there, six single-origins, a decaf and two blends), all of which are omni-roasts (roasted for both espresso and filter). Kaffeekommune has a concise espresso-based menu, offering single or double shots, with the choice of bean changing weekly, while you can have any of the coffees via the AeroPress. Meanwhile, if you’re in a hurry, there’s batch brew filter, with Kaffeekommune using a different coffee for each batch! If you’re hungry, there’s also a small selection of cakes.

Continue reading...