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.

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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.

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COFFI

COFFI, on Pilgrim Street in Liverpool, occupying an old, two-storey brick-built coach house.COFFI is another recent addition to Liverpool’s speciality coffee scene which came highly recommended. Located on a cobbled street running parallel to Hope Street, there’s a lovely view of Liverpool’s Church of England Cathedral (not to be confused with Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, which is at the other end of Hope Street). COFFI opened in the late spring of 2021 in a lovely old coach house, which provides a unique setting for the coffee shop. There’s limited seating inside at a long table, while there are four benches outside on the quiet street.

The real draw, however, is the coffee, with owners Nat + Mike, who cut their coffee teeth in Bucharest, selecting some outstanding beans from Europe’s best roasters, brewing from a concise espresso-based menu with batch-brew filter and pour-over options. Berlin’s Five Elephant and London’s Assembly were on the shelves when I visited, but these change every two to three weeks, so you’re going to need to hurry to catch them. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there’s a small selection of cakes available.

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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.

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Press Bros. Coffee, Lark Lane

An espresso served in a classic black cup with the words "Press Bros. Coffee" on the front.Press Bros. Coffee was recommended by my old friends at Neighbourhood Coffee when I visited Liverpool two weeks ago. Founded by three brothers who, in 2018, bought a converted Piaggio coffee van, Press Bros. began life in the Baltic Market (where the Piaggio is still going strong). Three years later, in October 2021, Press Bros. opened its first bricks and mortar store on Lark Lane in Aigburgh, south of the city centre and a stone’s throw from Sefton Park.

Press Bros. has come a long way from the Piaggio van, with Lark Lane, the subject of today’s Coffee Spot, offering a lot more than coffee. There’s an all-day brunch menu, sandwiches and cakes, along with tea and a range of draught and canned beer, plus wine and cocktails. When it comes to coffee, Neighbourhood provides a bespoke house blend on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest espresso, which changes every month. There are also a couple of filter options, which are matched to a specific preparation method. For June, this was Neighbourhood’s Born Sipping, a naturally-processed coffee from smallholders in the Konga region of Ethiopia (AeroPress) and the Las Guerreras, a Mexican single-origin from Girls Who Grind (V60).

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Bloom Building and Coffee

An espresso, made with an Ethiopian Sidamo single-origin, roasted by Adams + Russell and served in a mauve cup at Bloom Building and Coffee.Monday’s Coffee Spot is Bloom Building and Coffee, a chance discovery made while researching my trip to The Wirral two weeks ago. On an industrial estate in Birkenhead, it’s an interesting place, combining café, bar and venue space with hosting the Open Door Charity, which supports the mental wellbeing of young people across Merseyside, funded, in part, by Bloom Building’s profits. It also offers hot desking space and meeting rooms.

Unsurprisingly, my focus is on Bloom Building and Coffee in its role as a café, where you have a choice of any of the building’s public spaces, including the terrace, main venue/bar and mezzanine, all housed in the brightly-coloured industrial unit that’s been Bloom Building’s home since it opened in 2019. The coffee is from local roasters, Adams + Russell, which has its roastery (and shop) a 20-minute walk away. You’ll find an Ethiopian Sidamo on espresso, along with a Costa Rica decaf, both served from a concise menu, along with tea, hot chocolate and a range of soft drinks. As befits a bar, there’s a wide selection of beer, cider, wine and spirits. If you’re hungry, you can choose from a small range of cakes, pastries and vegan sandwiches/wraps.

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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.

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Tabernacl

A lovely flat white, made with the Blossom Espresso Blend, and served in a classic grey cup at Tabernacl in Wrexham.Tabernacl is the latest addition to Wrexham’s small speciality coffee scene, joining the well-established Bank Street Social, a short stroll away along Hope Street. Part of the Hope Street Church, Tabernacl occupies part of the ground floor of the iconic old Burton building at the southern end of Hope Street, on the corner with Town Hill. With floor-to-ceiling windows along two sides, the bright, sunny interior enjoys some lovely views of St Giles, Wrexham’s parish church.

Tabernacl opened April 2022, and, at the time of my visit (end of May), was slowly expanding its offering. All the coffee is from Manchester-based Blossom Coffee Roasters with Blossom’s seasonal blend on espresso, served from a concise menu. This is joined by either the blend or a single-origin on batch brew filter, along with tea from Good & Proper and cakes from old friends Cakesmiths. However, with the arrival of a second grinder, expect a guest espresso to appear on the menu in the next few weeks, while the kitchen should open in the near future, offering breakfasts and lunches.

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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.

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Intelligentsia, Post Office Square

A Black Cat espresso in a classic white cup, served at the Intelligentsia coffee bar on Post Office Square in Boston.I have a soft spot for Intelligentsia, a Chicago institution for more than 20 years, where I took some of my earliest steps in speciality coffee, long before I even knew what it was. Intelligentsia has been slowly expanding across the USA, with shops in Los Angeles, New York City and Austin. Now it’s reached New England with two Boston locations, one in Watertown and this one, right in the heart of the downtown on Post Office Square.

Occupying a large counter at the back of the lobby of office building 225 Franklin Street, the coffee bar has a fairly standard Intelligentsia offering, with the familiar Black Cat espresso blend joined by a seasonal guest and decaf, while for filter coffee, there are two options on pour-over and one on batch brew. This is backed up by a range of Kilogram Tea, plus cakes and pastries from The Danish Pastry House. You can sit at the coffee bar, at one of three window tables or take your coffee and find a seat in the lobby.

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