Well pals, it’s no secret that I’m a real fan of a good coffee shop, due partly of course to my love of a good cup of coffee but also to the general experience of the whole shebang. A good coffee shop is in my opinion 50% about the coffee and 50% about the atmosphere (friendliness of baristas included in the atmosphere bracket, FYI), and particularly during winter time hunting out new coffee shops to hang out and have a cuppa in can become a serious hobby of mine if I’m not careful. Hamburg as a city is all about individuality and so it’s my advice to you to stay away from the Starbucks and head straight for a quirkier, more coffee-loving establishment like one of these below.
Playground Coffee in Sankt Pauli is technically my local, being as it’s exactly opposite where I stay when I’m working in this crazy funny city. The day it opened was a joyous moment for me- mainly because prior to that I had my suspicions that the previously empty building was some sort of drug den- and the day I realised they remembered my order was even more joyous still! What a good and friendly bunch of lads. They take coffee rather seriously in here, and the proof is in the pudding. The pudding being that they really only sell coffee- not a tea nor a hot chocolate will you find,and definitely no flavoured syrups. These guys will laugh in the face of your flavoured syrups!! I’m a real fan of the decor; pastel colours mixed with macrame, tropical plants, and still with a mildly industrial vibe down to it’s bicycles and big wire-frame chairs which are actually pretty comfy if you’re lucky enough to get a spot in one.
In all honesty one of the main selling points of Kiezbohne (another Sankt Pauli classic), was the fact that it’s owner Jörg had so many fascinating stories to tell about his life as a young circus runaway and consequent travels across the world. Also there was a small dog named Pablo who used to be behind the counter from time to time. I guess we’ll never know what percentage of those stories were factual, as Jörg has since moved on to sail all the way to New Zealand, but he did demonstrate his juggling skills once and let me tell you that’s all the circus evidence I need. The shop itself is approximately the size of three wardrobes standing in a row but doesn’t tend to get busy so is quite nice to chill out in if you’re up for a solo coffee and a casual read of a book, or a small meeting of pals! Everything in here is decorated with skulls- even the spoons- as the skull is the emblem of Sankt Pauli itself and it’s all about local pride around these parts. It’s a shame they don’t do so many cakes and general baked treats these days (I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure the florist round the corner used to bake them), but the coffee is pretty darn tootin’ good and they also do a good old fashioned fresh mint tea if you’re up for something more refreshing. Good one Kiezbohne.
My main reason for appreciating Hej Papa is more about the food than the coffee, because they do it full on awesomely! In all honesty although I came here for the coffee, I left remembering only the fresh homemade food. Apologies for mentioning it in a post about coffee but it really is something to write home about. Located in a little street parallel to Wallring Park, halfway between Sankt Pauli and Jungfernsteig, this place has a very pretty vibe about it- fresh flowers, candles and wooden tables, you know the type.
Fritzis was a new and semi-accidental discovery. We knew it was there but had never ventured quite far enough to find it you know? The surprise closure (just that day, not permanently), of Kiezbohne, led us to branch out in search of this other mysterious location. It really is hard to spot, as it’s sort of camouflaged into the flats and other buildings that surround it, with no big sign to announce its existence, but inside we found a very busy and rustic looking little cafe with a shabbier version of the candles and wooden tables vibe going on. Coffee sizes are small (but good tasting) and served in old teacups with vintage patterned saucers to go with them. Again, the baked goods were the real selling point for me; I had a chocolate caramel shortbread and it was one of the best that I’ve had in years.
This place gets my vote for two reasons: firstly the warm glow of its lighting and very cool retro design, which when combined make it appear like the most inviting place in the world, especially on a rainy day. And secondly because it’s the only place outside of the Canary Islands I’ve ever found which sells my Grandad’s favourite coffee-based beverage- a Leche Leche, which is coffee with milk and a layer of condensed milk on the bottom.
Located close to the piers of Landungsbrücken in the city’s Portuguese district, it’s a very cute place which is also tucked away enough to not be heaving with people all the time. The baristas are extremely friendly and give you all the advice you could ever wish for about all your coffee desires; like Playground, these guys have a tiny menu due to their dedication to a good proper coffee and it truly pays off!
Technically guys, this is actually a very small coffee museum, would you believe it!? Located in Speicherstadt, which is the warehouse district, I knew this place existed but as it’s closed on Mondays (which is my day off of work), resigned myself to the fact I would never be able to go. That is, until I became ill and was prevented from flying from Hamburg to the Caribbean one fateful Monday morning. I literally turned up to the airport with sick in my hair AND on my trousers, it was shameful you guys. This surprise sickness meant that I had a whole extra week hanging out in Hamburg alone; every cloud has a silver lining and part of this particular cloud’s lining was that I finally made it to the coffee museum!
It’s not such a ginormous museum but it’s interesting to see the beans in the ginormous machines being ground and roasted, and I feel it’s definitely always good to learn about what it is you’re actually ingesting, you know? When you order a coffee you can really go in depth and choose what bean and strength you want, although the downside to me discovering this place at the same time as I was recovering from a sick bug was that I probably jumped the gun a bit on eating normally and ended up leaving half the coffee due to lack of appetite. Alas.
These are but a few of the gems of coffee shops that Hamburg has to offer, but all I’m saying is I strongly recommend having a wander in whichever city you find yourself in, in whichever part of the world, and finding somewhere locally owned instead of your classic Starbucks situation; it will pay off big time, pals!!!