I first came across Antwerp’s Caffènation as a roaster when I visited Loustic in Paris in 2014 and again the following year at Kofra in Norwich. Ever since I’ve been a big fan of Caffènation’s coffee so when I had the opportunity to visit Caffènation in Amsterdam, I jumped at the chance. Note that despite the name, this is independent from the roastery/coffee shops in Antwerp, set up (with Caffènation’s blessing) by an ex-employee in 2014.
On the western side of Amsterdam, south of Rembrandtpark and west of Vondelpark, Caffènation sits on a corner, the shop spread over several levels upstairs, with a wonderful basement below. If that doesn’t appeal, you can sit outside on one of several folding chairs on the broad pavement.
Other than the building, the focus is all on the coffee, which comes from the Antwerp roastery. There’s a seasonal blend on espresso, used for milk-based drinks, with a weekly single-origin used for black drinks. Alternatively, Caffènation always has a Kenyan single-origin on batch-brew, which is joined by another weekly single-origin.
Every now and then, as I travel around the country, I come across a real gem; a wonderful, amazing coffee shop that makes me grateful that I am lucky enough to spend my time writing the Coffee Spot. On the far side of Norwich (which is about a 15 minute walk from the near side of Norwich, such is the compact nature of the medieval city centre) is such a place: Kofra Speciality Coffee Brewers.
Kofra is a delightful spot. It’s not huge, but there’s more to it than first meets the eye, with one of the cosiest backrooms I’ve seen in a long while. The key to Kofra is its commitment to great coffee, to the extent that there’s no food, not even cake (the only exception to this is doughnuts at the weekend), the focus purely on the coffee.
Kofra is the UK distributor for Antwerp’s Caffènation, which it sells under the Kofra brand. Kofra has Caffènation’s LGB seasonal espresso blend in the main hopper, with a single-origin, which changes every week, in the second hopper. There’s also decaf. However, where Kofra really scores is in its filter coffee, with both bulk-brew and hand-poured options (Aeropress/Clever Dripper).
I first became aware of Loustic after a tip-off from Fancy a Cuppa?, who I’d sent ahead to scout out Paris for me. It’s a lovely spot, tucked away on rue Chapon and, while not far from the Pompidou Centre, it’s off the regular tourist track.
Unashamedly blending French café culture with speciality coffee, Loustic is the brain-child of Channa, an ex-pat Brit, who has lived in Paris for the last 13 years. He seems to have managed it as well, with a customer split of about 70% locals to 30% tourists/ex-pats, a much higher ratio than several other Parisian speciality coffee places I’ve visited.
Loustic itself is long and thin, but a masterpiece of internal design, with a clever use of mirrors giving it a much bigger feel. At the same time, it’s split into three distinct seating areas, giving it a cosy, sometimes intimate, nature. The coffee is from Caffènation in Antwerp, while the tea is also very good (as vouched for by no lesser an expert than Mr Fancy a Cuppa himself). To round things off, there’s an interesting array of cakes and a selection of savoury tarts for when you need that little bit more.