Tucked away in the hilly streets of the up-and-coming area of Praça das Flores, you can find a little piece of Denmark. Opened in 2014 by twins Helle and Susan Jacobsen, Copenhagen Coffee Lab is the Lisbon-based offshoot of the Danish artisan coffee roaster of the same name. Furnished in a classically clean and tidy Scandinavian style, step inside for a great place to relax or do some work.
Lisbon can often be a tricky place to be find a good coffee, as they generally opt for a dark-roasted, Robusta-based blend. But these aren’t your everyday beans. The Copenhagen roastery comes with the recommendation of the head chef of Noma, the world’s best restaurant. The Lisbon café is a coffee lover’s heaven – various contraptions for getting your caffeine fix line the shelves and windowsills, alongside packets of the House Blend (€12). After all, the place is a lab – each cup of coffee, whether filter, aeropress, cold brew or espresso is meticulously prepared by the team. And it’s worth the wait – the Brazilian blend that I tried (flat white, €3.20) is one of the best cups of coffee the city has to offer.
But there’s more to this spot than just the coffee. On a warm Lisbon afternoon, head in for one of their iced teas (€2.50) which they brew throughout the day and filter into your glass. There’s a good range of food too. As well as a variety of salads, there’s also a well-priced breakfast menu (€6.50) including yoghurt and granola, rye bread with jam and Danish butter, and any hot drink. The perfect pairing for your coffee has to be a slice of their dangerously delicious homemade chocolate mousse cake (€2.50, see above), though an honourable mention must be made to the white chocolate pastry.
Even if it’s on the more expensive end of the Lisbon price range, Copenhagen Coffee Lab is definitely worth a visit next time you’re in the area.
Whitewashed walls, hotchpotch furnishings and a counter teaming with dainty almond friands and hefty carrot cakes, Tradewind Espresso is an instagrammer’s dream. Occupying just a small footprint at the upper end of Whiteladies Road, with a little nifty design, owners Patrick and Tahi host seating for around 20 sippers and slurpers inside and another dozen or so in their wood-clad hidden garden.
Set up in September 2015 and business relation to Roasted Rituals, the Hengrove-based roastery, coffee is at the centre of this independent venture. With V60 filter methods and no paper French Press, you would be forgiven for feeling this is all a little too ‘on-trend’. Fear not, high chairs and local businessmen sit alongside the monochrome ‘straight out of Shoreditch’. Both beautiful and welcoming, this is style with substance.
Behind the perfectly scattered cushions and chunky wooden tables lies an unadulterated dedication to quality, the perfectly balanced coffee clearly benefits from their direct connection to source. Custom blends and single origin roasts vary on rotation, but you can be sure to rely on Highground, the house espresso blend offered year-round for its weight and complexity, versatile enough be supped alone or as part of a milkier creation.
Though their caffeinated offerings sit centre stage, the imaginative all-day brunch menu (available until 3pm) threatens to steal the show. Almost compulsory in Bristol these days, produce is sourced with attention to locality and seasonality, and everything that can be is made in house – nut milks, chutneys and cakes included. Sweet caramelised onions sit atop a pillowy soft rosemary focaccia, generously dolloped with peppery rocket pesto, spicy chorizo and oozy poached eggs (£9); an accomplished French toast (using house made brioche) provides the perfect sticky vehicle for cinnamon roast pears, a not overly sweet blackberry compote, creamy mascarpone and crunchy toasted buckwheat (£8); meanwhile the traditional Full English is lifted with smoky baked beans, wilted spring greens and slow roasted tomato.
With a well-priced menu of this calibre, Tradewind Espresso has firmly asserted its place on the teeming Bristol café scene.
KB Café (formally Kooka Boora Café) is positioned in the perfect place; it is just next to the Sacré-Coeur, but on the side where none of the tourists would think to go. Escaping the crowd, you find yourself in a tree-lined sloping Parisian square, with the crest of the basilica peeping out between trees and apartment blocks in the near-distance.
Sitting outside on one of the rustic wooden chairs, you can look down the lovely high-street of South Pigalle, lined with cutesy cafés, specialist gourmet food shops, bars and florists. This is not only a good location but also one of the most highly-respected coffee institutes of Paris, attracting Parisian coffee connoisseurs and foreign coffee explorers alike.
Each day there is a different, delicious ‘filtre du jour’, sometimes more traditional and other times an exotic blend with a distinct and unusual flavour. If coffee is not your thing, or you’re just not in the mood, they also offer a range of fresh, colourful fruit juices and smoothies, all at much lower prices than any of the cafés and bars positioned nearer to the Sacre-Coeur, along the typical tourist’s path.
It’s not just the coffee that really sets this place apart but also the food – quiches, soups, cakes, biscuits, toast and much more, all made on the premises by the chef Julie. This is the perfect place to relax and escape the masses after a trip to the Sacre-Coeur, a genuine little treasure where you can sit amongst the locals.
For the ultimate bohemian brunch, this is where you need to be. Replacing that café that no one really new the name of, Brew has made a name for itself simply on the quality of its toasted bread. (Something they do with a honey dressing I am lead to believe….)
They offer a selection of lunch/ brunch options at an affordable price. You can expect to pay around £7.50 for their take on an English breakfast – ‘Brewfast’ or even ‘Vegfast’ for the veggies amongst you. It is an order at the counter kind of place, which makes it that rather bit difficult if you think you’ve made up your mind before you reach the till. While waiting in the fairly speedy queue there is a selection of colourful, homemade salads, sandwiches, wraps and cakes to cause the fickle part of you a bit of a palaver.
Like many similar places, Brew café prides itself on using locally sourced produce. They have used numerous local suppliers and up-cycling methods in their shop design, and above all want their principle is to ‘be independent’.
It’s not a big place and can get quite busy in winter, without the outdoor seating on the decking. However, everything is fresh, made in house and the coffee is v. good. Struggling to find anywhere else in the university area that competes on taste or price, this place will be witnessing more than just one return visit.
I’m sitting in Strada (not the English chain of Italian restaurants, don’t worry). I feel… warm. It’s a grey autumn day, and the windows of this tiny café are all steamed up. Every table is full, of people on first dates, on working dates or on lunch dates.
The leather booth is very comfortable. Having been sat here on our laptop for two hours on one coffee each, no one has given us the subtle hint to order more or get out. That ticks a box. So, reverse psychology in action, I decide to order lunch. The aesthetically pleasing French guy behind the counter is very chatty. Another box ticked.
Ten minutes later (tick efficiency box) I’m munching on some mouth-watering sourdough toast, covered in chicken, Parmesan-style cheese and sundried tomatoes. This is served with a very refreshing bowl of tomato gaspacho, and some herb and red onion-speckled taboulé. Topped off with a drink of my choice, I’m satisfied that €14 isn’t at all bad for a filling lunch in the heart of the Marais. Later on, the two of us share a hefty slice of banana, chocolate and walnut cake. We leave Strada veritably complete.
On top of the tasty food and friendly staff, there were three things I very much liked about this little dwelling. 1) The big, bold writing on the windows. It reminded me of a 1980s East London caff – or at least how I imagine a 1980s East London caff to be. Sadly I’ve never seen one. 2) The art on the walls for sale. Like lots of small cafés, they curate exhibitions and hold viewing evenings. 3) The toilet was in a separate outbuilding. Going out the backdoor, crossing a Marais alleyway, and sitting on the grubby toilet, forget 1980s, I felt very 1950s. I love anything that allows me to pretend I’m in a different era. I’ve probably watched too much Woody Allen. But thanks to this enjoyable, food enticing experience, Strada Café, I will definitely be back.