Travel: Berlin coffee culture by Matt Farrell

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Distrikt Coffee, image by Matt Farrell
Distrikt Coffee, image by Matt Farrell
Anyone who knows me would appreciate my appetite for the best cup coffee in town – and eggs at three in the afternoon. I am also now really excited to be part of the returning Bold Street Coffee
Ahead of that, I re-visited Berlin to get my caffeine appreciation hat on, visiting some of the best third-wave coffee and brunch hangouts in the German capital. 
Berlin is a city of reinvention and diversity. It is home to a large number of young expats from all over the world and is perhaps now one of the most forward-thinking societies in Europe. 
Its coffee scene has also come for circle with excellent artisan roasters and coffee shops, and arguably housing one of the most iconic leftfield cult coffee brands in Europe.
Image by Matt Farrell
Image by Matt Farrell
The newly found coffee culture in Berlin is predominantly born due to its large amount of young expats of antipodean and American origins. The epitome of the latter is Five Elephant (Reichenberger Str. 10) owned by American ex-pat Kris Schackman and his Austrian partner (now wife) and baker Sophie Weigensamer. Home to their famous homemade Philadelphia cheesecake which is immensely popular with the locals the café was originally planned to be just a cake shop with a bit of roasting on the side, but with the coffee becoming ever more popular, the two have complemented each other perfectly and the rest is history. 
The majority of the best coffee shops in Berlin sit in the hip and edgy East, yet they roast and provide the beans for independents further West. One of personal favourite is the Woodfire Bakery, (Budapester Strasse 40) located in the trendy 25 Stories Hotel Bikini Berlin. This uses Elephant Coffee roasts and here you can grab your coffee and a bean bag, where you can watch the giraffes at play, as the bakery uniquely overlooks the Berlin Zoo through a huge viewing screen.
Matt Farrell
Matt Farrell
Open in 2014 in my favourite Berlin neighbourhood of Mitte (home to many an artisan coffee shop in 2018), Distrikt Coffee (Bergstraße 68) fast became a firm favourite for its breakfast and brunch menu with locals and tourists. 
With food this good it’s easy to forget about the coffee, which is still one of the best in the city. The menu has a small but diverse quality offering, including pancakes, organic eggs, avocado and beets on toast and the superfood bowl which is the pick of the menu. Distrikt has recently branched out into Kreuzberg and have opened their sister café Annelies (Görlitzer Strasse 68) located on one of Berlins attractive parks. 
Image by Matt Farrell
Image by Matt Farrell
The Barn is an institution and the brand referred to in the afore mentioned intro, founded in 2010 by Ralf Rüller, who used his influences from living in Japan and the U.K to create the business. A roaster committed to sustainability and attention to detail, they now ship to coffee enthusiasts all over the world and have one of the most iconic brands. To highlight their attention to detail, they once collected water samples from 24 different parts of the world to tailor their roasts to suit the water and adapt the roast to a global audience. Drop into to visit the original café in Mitte or to get educated at The Barn Coffee Roastery (9 Schönhauser Allee 8) and take some with you to grind at home. 
Neukölln is the latest gentrified neighbourhood in South East Berlin which has become home to a very eclectic mix of young expats thus attracting a creative and media savvy audience. Roamers café (Pannierstrasse 64) is the embodiment of this and is one of the new trend of ‘instagramable’ restaurants and cafés. The coffee and tea are worthy but everyone drops in here for the brunch trays including a really strong vegetarian and vegan offering and they do not disappoint, phones at the ready…
 
Laptops are not welcome at busy periods in many coffee shops in Berlin. As businesses battle back against the ‘camper’ and also try to re-introduce the art of conversation. 
Berlin is all about bringing the old and the new together and the future in the city looks lively and warm-hearted, just like the coffee. So whether it’s a flat white or a long black make sure there is love in the cup as coffee is no longer a commodity. 
Matt Farrell is a bar owner, restauranteur, and co-founder of Graffiti Spirits Group graffitispiritsgroup.com Follow his travels on Instagram: @fazmangoes
Bold Street Coffee re-opens this month, and Graffiti Spirits’ new market launches this Spring.