Category Archives: Coffee

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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Filed under Barista, Bäst Kaffe i Göteborg, Coffe Houses, Coffee, Göteborg, Good Coffee, Gothenburg, Nöller Espressobar Göteborg

Coffee in Gothenburg Part: 3

Mauritz Kaffe is an institution in the Gothenburg coffee circles. It is famous not only for its coffee and great buns and sandwiches, but also for being the first really italian inspired coffee bar opening in Gothenburg. Not to say in Sweden. It is a funny, eccentric place and I have therefore grown to love it.

You find this coffee bar, or coffee house as the owner Tord Wetter preferes to call it, on the busy Fredsgatan, no. 2, in the middle of the city center. Wherever you are planning to go in central Gothenburg, you will inevitably pass by Brunnsparken, one of the three major squares where all the busses and trams pass, and Fredsgatan is one of the main arteries leading further into the heart of the city. Mauritz Kaffe is therefore close to everything. You can’t miss it.

When I went a few weeks ago it was my first time in years, but it was like having it been stuck in a time warp where everything was just like in 1993, or 2004 for that matter. That is a quality I like and find fascinating with institutions like this, and since Mr. Wetter opened this place in 1971 and it has been a hit ever since, he should know. Being the fourth generation of coffee connoisseurs running Mauritz Kaffe, the name comes from his great-great-great grandfather Mauritz Svenson whom started the business in 1888, Tord is now fighting a battle against the big and mighty city council and his landlord who have agreed an unreasonable, and in the case of Mauritz Kaffe devastating, increase in rent. Running a business like this you can never compete with high street names the likes of H&M, Starbucks or Zara, but that does not mean that the inner city have to contain nothing else but. A city planner, responsible city architect or what have you must cherish and appreciate the variety and diversity businesses like this bring to the overall picture and experience of a modern inner city. So I dearly hope that Mauritz Kaffe will be at its current address for many years to come.

The coffee though; any good you might wonder? It’s great. Otherwise this place wouldn’t still be up and running after all these years. My Ethiopian coffee (yes, you can choose from a number of various blends and pure beans), served in a Presso coffee maker, was just as fruity and well rounded as I wanted it. The espresso a few days later was also great. I haven’t tried their milk drinks yet, but there is no reason what so ever they would not be top notch too. An update will come in a month or two when I have been back. If you go here, you should not miss the sour-dough plum buns. I know, how nice does that sound? you might think. But they are heavenly.

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Filed under Bäst Kaffe i Göteborg, Coffee, Göteborg, Mauritz Kaffe, Sweden

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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Filed under Amsterdam, Barista, Coffe Houses, Coffee, Coffee Company Het Spui

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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An Englishman and his Tea Room in the Netherlands

When I came over to the Netherlands almost ten months ago for work, I couldn’t in my wildest dreams imagine that finding a good old cuppa would be my main concern. I have by now given in to buying my tea when back in the UK, or to pay extortionate prices in speciality deli’s in Amsterdam.
Imagine my surprise when realizing that having tea when out and about town is equally impossible. I gave up trying, and have now started to appreciate (at times, at least) the fresh mint tea they serve everywhere. Though not as good as in the Big Mosque in Paris, it is generally fresh and invigorating, just like it should be.

But now, finally, to tweak up the general standard of tea drinking in the Low Countries to a higher level, a real English tea room called The Mayflower English Tea Room has opened in Amersfoort, a 40 minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station. I’ve now been twice, and good Lord is it a relief for a semi-expat like myself! Beats the high tea I had at that-very-fancy-hotel at 15 Beeston Place, London, last year with a mile, or two, which says alot about the love and effort put in to this establishment by the English owner, Jeremy. And all that effort and love shines right through everything that’s served.


To start with, I want to give The Mayflower a huge round of applause that everything is home made. None of that cheap, pre-packed rubbish you get at lesser establishments. Everything is made in the newly equipped kitchen at the back of the tea room. All is baked, decorated, fluffed up and smiled at by the owner himself. How about that for a recipe for success in 2011? The artisan and organic food movement has not reached over here in the same way as it has the British Isles, but I hope this can be a prime example that non-prefab is to prefer above everything else when it comes to food.
It might all be home baked, but still the prices are very resonable. €18.50 for a full High Tea incl. finger sandwishes, scones with all condiments expected, stunning pastries (as you can see above) and a pot of tea. “Surely not?” you may say, but that’s how it is. Light on the pocket and fills you up like a Sunday roast.

I have so far managed to try four (!) of the teas served, three black and a green/herbal Moroccan Mint. As is tradition at an English Tea Room only loos leaf tea is served, and if you find it too strong just ask for some hot water on the side. Also, milk is to be had if required, so no blank gaze will meet your eyes from behind the counter if you would ask for it like at most café’s in this paradise of cloggs, windmills and tulips. The providers of the tea, Harney & Sons, have been in the business of so called “gourmet teas” for over twenty-five years and the result can be seen in these pure tasting blends with kept depth and lack of bitterness though stewed in the pot if left too long. Brilliant choise and a joy to drink.
For those who abjure the classic tea tradition, there is also coffee on Lavazza beans, so every taste is catered for.

The finger sandwiches with varying, typical English fillings like roastbeef and horseradish, tomato chutney and cheddar, cucumber and dill are splendid small representations of the English tradition. No more, no less. Fresh and wonderfully tasty. What else is there to ask for? The home made fruit scones also matches the expectations with being light and on the right side of sweet while at the same time not tasting of baking powder, as is always a risk. I understand they have experimented a lot to find the perfect recipe, and it has payed off and shows. The scones, jam and the clotted cream married perfectly and transported me back to the Cornish coast like was I wrapped up in a whirl of English summery breeze. Amazing, pure and simple. The top of the tiered cake stand is filled with yummy goodiness too. My favourite is still, like it was at my first visit, the Victoria sponge. Just like with the scones there was this enviable lightness to the cake, like biting into a cloud. Not that I ever have, but if I did I imagine the feeling would be similar. The small exquisite banoffee pie were also very impressive. I promise you that all these pastries, cakes and sandwiches will fullfill your every expectation of what a real High Tea is like. And oh, I almost forgot to mention the blue Stilton cheese and broccoli quiche that you get with the sandwiches on the bottom tier. It’s delicious too. But you probably figured that out already.

My overall impression of The Mayflower is that the owner, Jeremy Roberts, is on the path towards recognition for his efforts and success will come running his way. With the incredibly high standards set and the effort put in to this business I have a feeling that when word gets around, not only in Amersfoort, will he be very busy indeed. The attention to detail (see the William Morris wallpaper in the background?) and the engagement and love for authenticity can’t be missed and will be appreciated by customers. And most importantly, the food and the customer, be it a family with babies, a business man in a hurry or an elderly couple, is put first. All this shows from the second you walk through the door.
If you’re looking for a little bit of England abroad, this is where you have to go. You will love every bite and cherish every sip when you’re there, and thank your lucky star that someone planted this little haven of Britishness in the heart of the Netherlands.

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Filed under Amersfoort, Coffee, High Tea in the Netherlands, Tea Room, The Mayflower Tea Room, The Netherlands

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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Filed under Amsterdam, Barista, Coffe Houses, Coffee, De Koffie Salon, Food and Drink, The Netherlands