If you missed it: dalgona is a whipped milk beverage topped with a coffee froth, a mix of instant coffee powder, sugar and hot water in equal proportions. By this spring we've got used to our quarantine reality, we keep going to work and aren't spending as much time at home any more. The open-terrace season isn't there yet to everyone's disappointment, so we treat ourselves to pastries and good coffee, learning all about it along the way.
Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, tells us that coffee is the most popular hot beverage in Germany, the country being ahead of Italy and Belgium in coffee bean import. Berlin is a Mecca for specialty coffee. It was Erna Knutsen, the legend of the coffee industry, who coined the term “specialty coffee”. She elevated coffee from mass-market drink to an art form, pointing out its history, the importance of the region of origin, the fact that coffee becomes more sophisticated and elegant when the terroir, the micro-climate of the plantation, the roasting and the blend are taken into account.
Ordering an espresso, as baristas would suggest, is a good way to start assessing a coffee bar. Espresso is all about the tech details: highly pressurised boiling water is forced through ground coffee beans for 20-25 seconds, resulting in 35-40 ml of coffee with a thick creamy froth.
Flat white, a drink devised in Australia, is a double espresso topped with frothed milk. Flat white has more intense coffee flavour that latte, the biggest and milkiest of espresso-based drinks. Half way between flat white and latte, maintaining the right balance of coffee and milk flavours is cappuccino.
Espresso mixed with frothed milk 1:1 is called cortado, and it's of Spanish tradition.
All these drinks are made traditionally, using a coffee machine. Many alternative methods exist, and you'll come across them at specialty cafés. They include filter coffee, French press and aeropress. Like wine in an opened bottle, coffee would develop its flavour as you're drinking it.
We support the philosophy of conscious consumption, looking for the best coffee there is. Here's our list of specialty coffee places of Berlin, where in these lockdown times you can still have your coffee and pastry to take away.
THE BARN, founded in 2010, is the biggest chain of specialty cafés in Berlin. It counts ten establishments of which the one at Kranzler Eck currently closed. The chain holds the «Best Specialty Coffee Roaster Europe&Middle East 2019» title and offers, besides coffee, their trademark muffins and biscuits. No cash; cards only.
Two Mitte-based RÖSTSTÄTTE BERLIN cafés select and roast their beans since 2003, and they trade in coffee-making equipment too. You can take a course at their Barista Academy and get a degree in coffee culture.
BONANZA COFFEE is three establishments in different corners of Berlin offering an enjoyable “third wave” coffee and impeccable interior design. Takeaway pastry on offer by La Maison bakery (Monday to Wednesday) or by Salon Sucre (Thursday to Sunday).
BEN RAHIM, a coffee house with an Arab accent, is tucked into the backyards of Hackesche Höfe and serves rose and cardamom lattes and cezve-brewed Turkish coffee served with a date, as well as flat whites. Besides the coffees there's a choice of sandwiches and bowls to take away, and unlike many other places, any of that can be ordered online for delivery via Lieferando or Wolt.
The FIVE ELEFANT chaps have been searching for and roasting the best coffee beans since 2010. Their four environmentally and socially conscious cafés serve some of the best coffee in Berlin. The location at KaDeWe is currently closed. Their perfect match is a cappuccino and Philadelphia cheesecake.
As the saying goes, coffee is the new wine. We wish you all a sunny Berlin spring and only the tastiest coffee!