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.

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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.

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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.

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Blooming Skull Coffee

Enjoying a lovely flat white in my HuskeeCup, made with the Red Bank Penny Rock single-origin espresso while sitting outside Blooming Skull Coffee in Bebington.When asking about speciality coffee in The Wirral, the long peninsular that I can see from my bedroom window every morning which stops North Wales from bumping into Liverpool, one name that consistently comes up is Bebington’s Blooming Skull Coffee. So, when setting off on Monday for a day-trip to The Wirral, it was always going to be my first stop.

Describing itself as a coffee shop and general store, you could be forgiven, on first glance, of thinking that Blooming Skull Coffee’s a coffee shop and florist (it’s not). Blooming Skull is takeaway only (so don’t forget to bring your own cup), although there is a solitary bench outside on the busy Bebington Road. The Penny Rock seasonal single-origin from Red Bank is on espresso, where it’s joined by a guest roaster (Plot Roasting during my visit) on batch brew, plus a range of cakes baked on the premises.

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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.

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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.

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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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KōHi Coffee Co., Boston

The Kōhi Coffee Co. logo from outside its Boston store inside 125 Summer Street.KōHi Coffee Co. is a small coffee shop chain, founded in 2014 in Provincetown, Cape Cod. Now with five locations, the original’s been joined by another in Provincetown (in Spindler’s restaurant) and three more around Boston. This includes today’s Coffee Spot, located off the lobby of 125 Summer Street, at the southern end of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, opposite South Station.

Occupying what’s best described as a cube to the left of the lobby, KōHi has no seating of its own. However, you can order directly from the street via a takeout window, then sit where you like in the public space in front of the building. Alternatively, you’re welcome to go inside, order, then take a seat in the lobby.

Old friends Tandem Coffee Roasters from Portland, Maine, provide KōHi with a bespoke house blend  on espresso, an exclusive single-origin on batch brew, while there’s also a pour-over option. If you’re hungry, Kōhi has a small selection of pastries. Note that KōHi only serves in disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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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.

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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.

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