If you’re a mother you know the love that you have for your child is like no other. You also know, that the few hours you can carve out for yourself in the week are more precious than gold. No, it’s not an overstatement.
I have some friends that strive to over-achieve even in these hard to come by hours, going to the gym or doing a little personal upkeep. Not me, I want to put my behind on a chair and read an article all the way through. Every weekend, I take a magazine and head down to a coffee shop to just exist in the singular. Last weekend it was Espresso-Ambulanz on Oranienburger strasse, this weekend the break in the snow meant I headed out a little further to The Barn; one of my favourite coffee shops in Berlin.
Its brown painted walls, bales of hay, designer lighting and attractive branding set me at ease. The shop assistants wear plaid shirts in keeping with the “barn” branding and are young, fresh and friendly.
It’s as if this cafe is not in Germany. Everyone speaks English, the staff, the customers – strange – but nice. It’s a treat to be able to tune in an out of other people’s conversations after months of living with only my thoughts or little L’s seriously limited vocabulary.
On Saturday, while “tuning in” (eavesdropping) on someone’s conversation, I heard something – something “square mile coffee” something “so good, single estate”. Then the barista started pouring and measuring things and the man was presented with a glass beaker and a cup.
I know Square Mile Coffee from London and although at Melrose and Morgan we bought our coffee from Monmouth, they are equally good. Normally I go for the frothy, milky coffees too. And my original order had been for a very sensible fresh mint tea (it was 5 in the afternoon). But then all this talk of “so good” made me change my mind. How bad could a coffee at 5 pm be really (as I sit here and type this post in the wee hours of the night).
The barista suggested I try the single estate Salvadorean unwashed coffee. Unwashed means there are remnants of the berry left on the bean so it makes it “fruitier” according to one and “sweeter” according to the other. It’s a fun process to watch, quite labor intensive “a bit like a tea ceremony”. The coffee itself is clean tasting, doesn’t need milk or sugar (not that I usually take sugar). It went really well with the almost bite sized chocolate covered cake I ordered.
I haven’t eaten there often but what I have tried has been good. The thick and chunky pea soup served with a small tuft of dried purple flowers in the middle and ground pepper was everything it should be. I ate the whole bowl even though I wasn’t that hungry and knowing I had an early dinner reservation at Kimchi Princess. I haven’t tried the sandwiches yet, they look like they might be dry, I should try one and see.
If you have some time to kill, Augustrasse, Linienstrasse, and Sophienstrasse are good streets to explore for galleries and independent shops. Sophienstrasse hosts a small Christmas market on the weekends, Berliner Honig has a stand there and I picked up some lovely beeswax candles.