Category Archives: Coffe Houses

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 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: 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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Coffee in Amsterdam: part 7

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.

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Coffee in Amsterdam: part 6

I’m considering putting together a web based compilation of really good coffee places in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. These are the countries I spend most time in when travelling. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to add more countries along the way. The reason? Well, when sitting here in my rented flat it’s a thought that strikes me over and over again since there really isn’t a very good guide out there. The rating system on many sites easily becomes biased since the owner of any place can just rate it as many times as he wants and then his place will be at the top. Fair? Not really. This is something I have figured must happen since some of the places I’ve been to have had amazing ratings and if not mediocre coffee, it certainly hasn’t been top notch in town. Still, other places haven’t even been listed but have had some smashing stuff brewed up for me. Confusing but true. This project would then give me an incentive to do a thorough Michelin-taster-like, almost scientific research of the coffee places I stumble across, or, are looking for on purpose. What do you think? Who knows, it might even end up in a printed format one day.

Coffee house no. 6 in my so far unscientific quest for perfect java is called Espressofabriek on Gosschalklaan 7. I wouldn’t call it a hidden gem since it’s really well frequented, however, it’s a bit off the beaten track and therefore you won’t just randomly pass it. You have to go there intentionally. And my recommendation is that you do.  It’s reached easiest from the Central Station by bus 21 to Van Hallstraat or tram 10 to Van Limburgstirumplein. I know, the Dutch stops have really complicated names but rest assured you’ll find it sure enough with the great signs showing the next stop on both buses and trams. You can’t miss it. The Espressofabriek is then situated in a contemporary, culturally oozing area called Westergasfabriek. As the name tells you (!) it is the old gasworks turned hip and funky. Big lawns and old brick buildings are now home to arty boutiques and the creative arts in general with film companies, theatre groups and what-have-you. Exactly the kind of vibrant area I like. In the middle of this is the very New York like coffee place I was looking for. This time I wasn’t let down. S. found her latte a wee bit bland but my cappuccino was perfect. And more importantly this was the place that produced the best milk foam so far. It held up much longer than normally. Eureka! One also got a glass of water with the coffee without asking. I don’t necessarily need that but I find it really nice. Maybe more nice looking than anything else, but still nice. A big plus for that guys.

With seating outside as well this will be lovely in a week or two, when the autumnal colours have started to explode and create an even more vibrant feel to the season lurking around the corner. With a narrow but esthetically pleasing interior in black and off-white with massive chalk boards with “literary quotes” (more likely from contemporary pop songs than Proust, if you get my point) on coffee and life in general I felt really welcome. It’s not cosy the way I usually look for, but it works. It’s arty and it’s Amsterdam. A place with great coffee and good vibe. I think I’ve found a new coffee house for my Top Three list.

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