Category Archives: Barista

Coffee in Gothenburg Part: 4

In my search for the perfect cup of coffee, the turn has now come to a write-up of Nöller Espressobar in Gothenburg. A small coffee bar in Italian-French style it has been located at Haga Nygata 28 since 2004, and I have been a frequent visitor since its opening. Luckily I am now working in the vicinity so I can treat myself by going there more often. I write luckily, because it is really good.

From the word go Nöller Espressobar understood the importance of high quality, good organic produce and the necessity of love and tenderness involved in the making of good coffee. I have never, during all my visits, been served a mediocre cup of coffee. And I have tried most of their range. Naturally, the espresso macchiato is my pick any day and it has always been schoolbook perfect. Regardless of which barista has been on duty. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a proof of the devotion showed to serving good coffee. Though Nöller Espressobar have extensive opening hours they haven’t pushed themselves taking on more staff than needed, which in my view is part of the quality problem running rife at bigger coffee chains like Starbucks, Nero, or the ghastly monstrosity called Espresso House that is dominating the Swedish highstreets since a few years back.

The result of the mindset and business-think of Marc Nöller, the proprietor, is great. With home made sarnies, tasty soups and the most delicious small cakes and pastries made in the little kitchen at the back a lunch or a quick bite is always a pleasure to enjoy here. Perfect froth for any cappuccino or espresso macchiato isn’t a downer, either.

The interior is worth mentioning too. It hasn’t really got a style per se, it’s more of a mix of continental European coziness. An Austro-Hungarian art noveau interior meeting French bistro style mixed with a bit of Italian coffee-bar-feel. It’s full of earthy colours like red-brown, black, and red on its own. There’s also a fair share of brushed steel, the ever-so-popular interior idea of the early noughties. Sounds strange, I know, but the warmth and the welcoming atmosphere makes it all work. The three tiny TV-screens behind the bar showing old Charlie Chaplin movies and Italian 1960s classics doesn’t make it worse. It simply has to be seen.

Since this little café is at the top of the cosy Haga district in Gothenburg with lots of shops selling vintage, antiques, antiquarian and remainder books, small hip Scandinavian clothes brands, contemporary interior design etc. it’s a must if you’re here visiting. If you live in Gothenburg and haven’t yet been; shame on you! Nöller is certainly ”worth a detour”, like a rather famous restaurant guide would write.

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Coffee in Gothenburg Part: 1

It doesn’t look like much, but this is one of the best coffee bars in Sweden. At Kyrkogatan 31 in Gothenburg, walking in to Bar Centro is like walking in to a tiny espresso bar somewhere in Italy with its azure tiled walls and brushed steel bar tops running along the walls with matching high chairs. It’s always busy and the quality is top notch. Just brilliant. Though, it’s a tiny place, so do like the locals by sitting outside on the opposite pavement and pretend your in Milano or Venice.

The coffee is always perfect. I’ve been going here for years, but having tried it a few times over the last few weeks I have decided that the consistency is impressive. Never a bad espresso macchiato, never a faulting latte. Pitch perfect result with the Mehari Alambra Cremador beans they use (and sell). Never a bitter tone in the coffee and the crema is smooth and round. Not forgetting good froth when that’s what you’re having with your drink of choice. I simply love this place. So if you’re ever in Gothenburg: go. If you don’t you’ve just made a huge mistake.

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Coffee in Amsterdam Part: 11

A tiny place bang in the middle of central Amsterdam, I end up here a lot when book-browsing amongst all the international book stores by Het Spui. Consistent with high quality coffee and great service I can always trust the guys and girls behind the machines at Coffee Company: Het Spui. It is found behind Singel, or just off the big touristy Kalverstraat. If anyone is touristing in Amsterdam this place is impossible to miss, though small.


This review is, in a way, an exception from my rule to not review, or even frequent, big coffee chains like Starbucks, Nero or Coffee Company. But this exception is justified by Coffee Company being miles better than any other chain of coffee places I have ever been to. And I’ve been to a few, as the regular reader will know. It is important to remember that this franchise can vary enormously in quality and service between two coffee places owned by Coffee Company but situated on the same street. A good example is the place closest to work, Coffee Company: Waterlooplein, which serves great coffee but the earlier mentioned confusion between an espresso macchiato and a cortado is rife here. The service is also, in general, appalling and so slow I have more than once walked off. This since, in my view, waiting in a queue of four people it should not take over ten minutes to be served. But it does if the staff stand talking to each other behind the till instead of actually serving customers doing the job they’re supposed to. This does not happen at Coffee Company: Het Spui, but it does at the one at Waterlooplein. A lot.

My short macchiato has always been top notch here at CC Het Spui. This is a really small place, just some bar stool seating by the window overlooking the square, so if you want a sit down coffee you have to stick to the summer months when they have a small outside seating area. But even here it is very crammed, so I would opt for the take-away alternative if you’re not there in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. Or possibly Sunday. Then it might be possible to sit down for your coffee.

Due to its central location close to the main tourist streets it is one of the best places to pick up your coffee on-the-go, so aim for this little anonymous looking place when you’re close to Het Spui next time. I always do.

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Coffee in Amsterdam Part: 10

A brilliant little place that epitomises European city cool, you find SOK Espressobar on Hartenstraat 34. A pop-up espresso bar open for only six months until sometime in the late summer/early autumn (for now) that serves brilliant slow drip, espresso and what-have-you by some of the Netherlands best baristas. Not to mention it is close to another favourite of mine, Screaming Beans, so you can actually have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam in the same street, just walking between the two establishments enjoying wonderful shots of C8H10N4O2.

I had my normal short macchiato and it was just like I expected from a place like this; perfect aroma, smooth espresso and a good milk foam. This is, apparently, also one of the rare places in Amsterdam where they know how to froth the milk perfectly. Molto bene signori, grazie! And more importantly, my macchiato didn’t turn out like a cortado with equal parts espresso and milk foam as has happened at a few places recently. A macchiato is a macchiato and a cortado is a cortado. Basta cosí. Get it right guys. Though, I need to stress, SOK Espressobar is not guilty of this mix-up. They know exactly what they are doing.


This place is so small and tiny sitting inside is virtually impossible. But that’s not what they seem to aim for. You get your coffee and then sit outside by the canal like I did. I love that about Amsterdam, the sitting on the canal-side enjoying the sun, and for that SOK Espressobar is ideally situated just by Keizersgracht.

A small chalk note on the bar saying “Meet Mrs. Synesso” and an arrow to the coffee machine made me smile too. Humour and good coffee seem to be a good, contemporary mixture.

So, go there and try out SOK Espressobar’s coffee if you’re in Amsterdam visiting in the late summer. They close in just a few weeks, so hurry up!

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Coffee in Amsterdam Part: 9

In November 2010 this coffee house, De Koffie Salon on Utrechtsestraat 130, was voted “Best coffee in Amsterdam” by Time Out Amsterdam Magazine. Nice for them, but I don’t agree. It’s not that it is not a nice place, cause it realy is. Great feel, relaxed, chilled out but not overly Americanized cum brushed steel and concret á la New York interior that’s now so popular, homey feeling with the big sofas on the first floor and the buzzing, great table in the middle of each floor for lap-top users. Brilliant idea. But the coffee? It was pretty bland. And that’s why I came there in the first place.

Since my first espresso macchiato was a dissapointment the other week, I decided to go again a few days later to see if it might just have been bad luck from the barista’s side. But that wasn’t the case here. The second time I went the macchiato was still bland, a bit watery and with no pull in the taste. Is the settings on the machine wrong perhaps? Need to have the bar pressure set according to how the coffee is ground? Or is it just that they have had bad luck with the last few batches of coffee beans from Buscaglione, the italian roaster. Whatever it is, it needs to be fixed.
The froth on my first macchiato was very good (it sais in my notes) but the last time it was too hard, almost like an unbaked meringue before it hits the oven. I also had a normal black coffee to see if that was any better. And it was. They might be using these hellishly popular pods (the Wrath of the Gods for coffee connoisseurs, in my view) which are so loved here in the Netherlands, but it was still not bad at all. Not as clean in taste as it would have been had it been a proper pour over, but I shan’t be too picky.

What I want to applaude De Koffie Salon for is their effort to keep a consistently high level concerning their pastries, sandwiches and sweet buns. I have had different things every time, and they have been very good. The little almond bake with three whole almonds on top are divine. And not least, the staff has been very nice too. Service minded and smiley which is nice in a country where customer service is as sparse as a snowman in Hell.

So all in all I would recommend this coffee house for all but their coffee. If that is your prime concern, go somewhere else. If it is  simply a nice café experience you’re after, De Koffie Salon on Utrechtsestraat is a good place to go in one of my favourite, up-and-comming art trendy and design aware areas of Amsterdam.

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Coffee in Amsterdam Part: 8

After a few bummers on the coffee front over the last few days in the capital of cloggs and tulips, I found my way to Hartenstraat 12 and Screaming Beans. Just the name is enough to make you want to go there, but what coffee! It is a place well worthy being called a coffee fanatics mecca in Amsterdam. An easy five minute walk from the Dam Square, past the Royal Palace, and you’ll find this little gem of a place on one of the short, busy sidestreets off Keizersgracht.

Screaming Beans uses beans from Bocca, a small roastery situated in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. Mainly sourcing their beans from organic farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya, they buy small exclusive batches of beans to keep the quality high. Just how I like it. It is also possible to buy their beans at Screaming Beans for you to take home. I mean, if you hadn’t had enough of coffeey goodiness for one day. Have to do that next time I’m around.

I kicked off with a macchiato which was a smooth concoction, well balanced espresso versus milk froth. No bitterness in the aftertaste. Perfect. When I asked for something more “original” I was served a cup of pour over on a freshly ground Ethiopian blend called HailesLassie. It was one of the last cups since the blend is now finished (it was created for a barista championship in Maastricht, the nice barista informed me, but in the last minute the barista competing changed his mind and created another blend whereby this came on the market for Screaming Beans to grab. For that feat I can only congratulate them) but they have plenty others which I’m sure are equally as good. This blend had a very deep fruity tone, some surprising papaya tint to it, and though not overly strong and dark, which is usually how I like it, it was a great pour.


Good coffee is hard to come by in the Netherlands. Even in the multi international capital. It is said to be getting better, but I guess I haven’t been here long enough to really tell. At times I am still chocked over the quality at some places who gives them self out to be “the real thing”. I can only say beware and be warned. Screaming Beans though is a place to visit when you’re around in Amsterdam as a coffee connoisseur.  Or coffee junkie for that matter. It is good. Very good. Can’t put it any simpler than that. My only critique would be that they close very early, at 5pm every day (which is a shame) so check the opening hours before you go. To their defense they are open on Sundays, which is rare over here. Maybe there’s a good reason for it all, I didn’t ask, but hopefully they’ll do something about that soon and stay open longer for us all to enjoy.

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