Is this the best coffee house in Amsterdam then? No, not when it comes to the coffee. There’s no reason beating around the bush. Latei on Zeedijk 143 is not the best coffee in town. Good, but not great.
It is, however, one of the most characterfull places I’ve visited since moving here. It is situated by Nieuwmarkt , just at the end of Amsterdam’s China Town district. Walking past, it looks like a really tacky junkshop at first. But if you give it a second or two you see that it is full of chic students and an arty clientele. Full of horn rimmed glasses and knitted, if terribly expensive, sweaters that are just the right shade for bohemia. If you see what I mean. I’ve never seen so many intellectuals crammed in such a small space in my life. The only thing that beat this, if only just, is probably the photographs of Sartre and de Beauvoir sitting with friends in Paris in the 1960s.
Latei don’t just serve coffee. They also sell vintage bags’, dinner china, glasses, chandeliers and quirky stuff you really don’t need but could kill for ‘cause it’s just so cool. In general I don’t care about cool, but after having found this place I do. How will I survive without a 1970s freestanding cigarette lighter? I just have to do my best. Or go back and buy it. It’s only €7.50 after all. The atmosphere is what makes this place so great. As I said above, the coffee is good but not world class. For my second order I actually couldn’t be bothered to order another coffee. Instead I opted for the freshly pressed orange juice and a croissant. The juice was really nice and, believe it or not, the croissant was a dream. Really buttery without going soggy. I have to try one next time as well to see if it was just pure luck or if the croissant level is consistently high. If it is, that’s just another reason to come back here often. The staff is sweet, helpful and what seems to be the standard requirement in Amsterdam: good looking students working extra. Over here I’ve hardly seen café staff over the age of 25. And as long as the service standard is high, I could not care less.
With its white walls, overwhelmingly bright wallpapers and lime green windowsills this is one of the quirkiest but nicest places I’ve been to. London included. A place like this in London would have been way under the standard I expect from a place serving food and drink, but here it smells nice and all is clean and fresh. For this I love Amsterdam. If you’re looking for a nice place to relax and read a book (as long as it is not by too common an author) this is where you must go.