Kaffee und Küchen (coffee and cake) is a national institution, and a crucial concept behind this is the idea of Gemütlichkeit, whose meaning is akin to cosiness. A nation of unashamed caffeine addicts, Germany’s capital is full of choice when it comes to a fix in a cup. The abundance of cafés contributes to the city’s relaxed atmosphere, especially in summer when tables spill out onto the pavements.
Along with hats and boots, mugs of milky coffee and generous helpings of cheesecake are essential fuel for Berliners in winter. While cosiness is very much available, the so-called ‘Third Wave’ of coffee is spreading from east to west of the city. The introduction of artisan espresso bars is amounting to something of a revolution in coffee consumption. It makes use of the many cheap, industrial spaces and reflects the demands of an increasingly international population – not least the ‘digital diaspora’ of freelancers on laptops, for whom a café becomes the office. Dedicated tea drinkers however might find the Berlin cuppa a less proficient practice: it usually involves dipping a tea bag into your cup of hot water at the table. Come evening it is common for venues to blur the lines between café and bar, and at dusk tables fill up with tea lights, beer glasses and little tumblers of wine.
Acolytes of the so-called ‘Third Wave’ of coffee production, Bonanza serves some of the best cups in Berlin. Its proprietors are fastidiously involved at every step of the process, from relationships with suppliers to roasting the beans in-house for freshness and taking due care over steam temperature. While beans are available to buy for home, the final results in the shop are unbeatable. The bar is dominated by a highly sensitive hand-made Synesso Cyncra machine and seating is minimal: customers perch among sacks of beans, piled high all around the little shop or move outside to benches on the pavement. The flat white, an Antipodean take on a latte, is smooth and divine and their cake selection is small – pretty much carrot cake and brownies – but high grade.
Bonanza, Oderberger Straße 35, 10435 Berlin (0176 6169 1496, www.bonanzacoffee.de). U2 Eberswalderstraße. Open 8.30am-7pm Mon-Fri; 10am-7pm Sat, Sun.
Having recently opened an outpost in the Kreuzberg’s alternative fashion emporium Voo, the baristas at CK continue to demonstrate their devotion to the black bean. The original Prenzlauer Berg café provides a selection of three beans for drip-type coffees, or for something more invigorating, try their aromatic ristretto.
Café CK, Marienburgerstraße 49, 10405 Berlin (030 6883 4905, cafeckberlin.com). U2 Senefelderplatz. Open 7am-8pm Mon-Fri; 10am-8pm Sat, Sun.
Those seeking the kind of snappy €1 espressos found at coffee bars all over Italy are advised to pay a visit to this popular Schöneberg spot. Infamous for its permanent queues, locals sun themselves outside in anticipation of a café crème and a small, super sweet Portuguese custard tart.
Double Eye, Akazienstraße 22, 10823 Berlin (0179 456 6960, www.doubleeye.de). U7 Eisenacher Straße. Open 9.30am-6:30pm Mon-Fri; 10am-3.30pm Sat.
Named after a Kurt Schwitters poem, this spacious café dominates a corner of the charming Kathe-Kollwitzplatz with plenty of outdoor seating to watch the bustling organic market and its well-heeled clientele. There is a small florist attached and they also serve up all manner of cakes and baked goods. Brunch comes highly recommended.
Anna Blume, Kollwitzstraße 83, 10435 Berlin (030 440 48641, www.cafe-anna-blume.de). U2 Eberswalder strasse. Breakfast till 5pm. Open 8am-2am daily.
Mein Haus am See
Originally opened as a 24/7 café (now only open all night on weekends), Mein Haus is conveniently located on the Mitte end of Brunnenstraße, famed for its boutiques and galleries. Its ragtag collection of seating makes it seem like a furniture shop on first glance, but once inside the floor to ceiling stepped seating area and wall to wall windows, make it a great vantage point for watching passers by.
Mein Haus am See, Brunnenstraße 197, 10119 Berlin (030 2388 3561, www.mein-haus-am-see.blogspot.com). U8 Rosenthalerplatz. Open 9am-open end daily.
Fischerhütte am Schlachtensee
Barely 45 minutes from the centre, Berliners flock to the lakes every weekend to swim and hike around the Grunewald forest. Schlachtensee, with its idyllic forest surroundings, has crystal-clear waters and is of a manageable walking size. At one end is the Fischerhütte, an elegant café restaurant that harks back to the area’s turn of the century affluence. Sit back with a hot chocolate and watch strollers circumnavigating the lake.
Fischerhütte am Schlachtensee, Fischerhüttenstraße 136, am Schlachtensee, 14163 Berlin (030 8049 8310, www.fischerhuette-berlin.de). Open 9am-close daily.
At completely the other end of the scale, Edelweiss is a café, restaurant and club complex housed in beautiful, old brick houses right in the centre of trendy Gorlitzer Park. The terrace here makes for a great vantage point to study that very special mixture of Kreuzberg folks, Turkish families, fresh young hipsters and punks.
Edelweiss, Görlitzerstraße 1-3, 10997 Berlin (030 6107 4858, www.edelweiss36.com). U1 Görlitzer Bahnhof. Open 11am-5pm Mon-Fri; 10am-5pm Sat, Sun.
Spiritual home of the much maligned ‘freelance urban creative’, this corner café was a first for free internet (now more widely available in cafés in the city) and provides two-floors of vintage armchairs for its laptop-fixated customers. Afterwards you might want to have a look at the website’s amusing blog, which catalogues disparate items left behind.
Sankt Oberholz, Rosenthaler Straße 72a, 10119 Berlin (030 2408 5586, www.sanktoberholz.de). U8 Rosenthaler Platz. Open 8am-12midnight Mon-Fri; 9am-12midnight Sat, Sun.
Clean modernist décor and a menu of smoothies, bagels and fabulous cheesecakes make this café almost seem out of place in the rough and ready neighbourhood of Friedrichshain. Pull up a chair at the communal table and maximise your workflow potential, or if you’re on an extra-curricular outing, there’s a range of international magazines to entertain.
Aunt Benny, Oderstraße 7, 10247 Berlin (306 6405 300, www.auntbenny.com). U5 Frankfurter Allee. Open 9am-7pm Tue-Fri; 10am-7pm Sat, Sun.
This cosy Kreuzkölln café is tucked away behind Kottbusser Damm and functions as a hub for the French dimension of the neighbourhood. Cute tables and chairs are complemented by zingy espressos and an excellent Francophile menu of croissants, crepes and quiches. The little bar is well equipped for aperitifs once the working day is over and weekly film screenings, art installations and live music contribute to a creative atmosphere.
Heroes, Friedelstraße 49, 10247 Berlin (030 3744 7511, www.heroesberlin.com). U6, U7 Herrmannplatz. Open 12noon-8pm Tue-Sun.
Eschewing the more common trend for retro kitsch, the furniture here has a look of faded grandeur. Aspiring to its namesake, a ‘living room’ atmosphere, the staff do everything to make you feel at home and with a lovely view over Helmholtzplatz, you’ll definitely want to linger. Fresh cakes and coffees are both reasonably priced and nicely styled, and come evening the cafe turns into a relaxed setting for cocktails.
Wohnzimmer, Lettestraße 6, 10437 Berlin (030 445 5458, www.wohnzimmer-bar.de). U2 Eberswalder Straße. Open 10am-4am daily.
Les Enfantes Gâtés
Situated in the hip area north of Görlitzer Park dubbed Wrangelkiez, the bare walls of this relatively new café has the look of an artist’s studio, which suits their exquisite and imaginative patisserie creations down to a tee. The slightly higher price range is justified by delicate strawberry tarts and hot chocolate made from 99% cocoa.
Les Enfantes Gâtés, Falckensteinstraße 33, 10997 berlin (030 5309 5784, falckensteinstrasse-berlin.de). U1 Schlesisches Tor. Open 11am-7pm Wed-Fri; 10am-8pm Sat, Sun.
Café Einstein Stammhaus
For a taste of Weimar decadence visit this Nollendorfplatz institution set in a grand, old 1920s villa. The wood-panelled dining room and garden make for a romantic setting. Enjoy a classic apple strudel and a Weiner Melange (a creamy Austrian coffee), all served with a flourish by the charming uniformed waiters.
Café Einstein Stammhaus, Kurfürstenstraße 58, 10785 Berlin (030 2639 1918, www.cafeeinstein.com). U1, U2, U3, U4 Nollendorfplatz. Open 9am-1am daily.
Continuing the rapid transformation of the Kreuzkölln area – a district between Hermannplatz and the Landwehrcanal, this café serves up punchy, locally roasted coffee and vegan salads. Meanwhile, two connecting rooms present a range of reasonably priced vintage clothing, artfully selected by the young female duo behind the shop. You can even bring in your old clothes to exchange for credit in the café.
Sing Blackbird, Sanderstraße 11, 12047 Berlin (030 5484 5051, www.singblackbird.com). U8 Schonleinstraße. Open 10.30am-8pm Mon-Fri.
This Wilmersdorf shop is a cross between retro furniture showroom, bijoux café and second-hand record shop. You can browse their extensive jazz and classical music collection or settle down to the more serious business of home-made cheesecake. Check the website for regular ensemble performances.
Horenstein, Fechner Straße 3, D-10717 Berlin (030 8639 6897, www.horenstein.de). U7 Blisserstraße. Open 1-7pm Wed-Fri; 11am-6pm Sat.
Step straight into a children's story at this 1920s sweet shop. The dark wood shelves are loaded with candies, freshly baked cakes and pastries and chocolates – the dense truffles are recommended. You can take your coffee into an adjoining room or savour something sweet on one of the seats outside.
Suesskramdealer, Varzinerstraße 4, 12159 Berlin-Friedenau (030 - 8507 7797, www.suesskramdealer.de). U9 Bundesplatz. Open 7.30am-8pm Mon-Fri; 10am-6pm Sun/holidays.
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