Café Einstein Stammhaus, Old Fashioned Coffee & Lunch in a Villa, Tiergarten

There are a few Einstein cafés around Berlin.  Always opt for one of those coffees over Balzac and certainly over Starbucks (Only because I think the coffee is too milky not because I subscribe to the “Starbucks is ruining the world” movement.)

This Einstein is really special.  It’s in an old villa in Tiergarten.  Parts of the ceiling and faux columns are gilded, there are large mirrors set into the walls adding to the feeling of opulence.  The waiters/waitresses  wear black trousers, white shirts and are very polite.  There are even ‘stations’ for them to put down their trays.  It’s all very grown up and reminiscent of a bygone time when everything and everyone was more elegant.  
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Kaffeemitte, Coffee, Mitte

 I think everyone knows KaffeeMitte but just in case you don’t.

Here you go:


It’s all cement walls and pale blond wood and bare light bulbs. It makes me think of the Aveda Institute at Covent Garden, London: especially when they play plinky plonky psuedo-soothing tunes.

Outside there are pistachio coloured tables, in the Spring and Summer months they never manage to accommodate all the trendy Mittens (not fingerless gloves, the people of Mitte) with their diagonal bangs, trousers in primary colours and retro sunglasses.

Sounds like it would be the domain of the very cool so you (me) are not invited but that is not the case.  The service is friendly, polite and there are frequent smiles.  I even had an outlandish experience where I once had to pay for one solitary coffee with a €50 bill* and instead of lip sucking, head shaking and general undisguised disdain, change was handed over with a smile.


Bizarre!  But welcome. Read more of this post

Cahoona, Drive - In Coffee, Kreuzberg

From 1st to 2nd grade, I lived in communist Bucharest.  The worst part of communism for a 5-year-old?  No cartoons.  Although we had a VCR, my sister and I only had two videos to watch. One was a documentary about Elvis Presley that demonized the Beatles for contributing to his early demise (to this day, I don’t like the Beatles). The other was a cartoon called Danger Mouse. A show about a supermouse secret agent, with a hamster side kick that battled evil forces from their headquarters - a red post box. In one particular episode, The Bad Luck Eye and the Little Yellow God, everything turns topsy turvy.

The Cahoona Drive In Coffee kiosk looks like it could be part of the set of that episode.  At the end of Freidrichstrasse, turn left and there it is.  The first time I drove up to it, it was dead of winter, the window swooshed open and a chirpy voice said, “Aloha!”  Hands down, the most surreal thing I have ever experienced. Read more of this post

London: Day 1, Monmouth, Kopapa, Yauatacha

2 years after having my daughter and being at her beck and call constantly and exclusively, I went away for the weekend, alone for the first time. With plans to eat, drink and be merry.

The first two days I was giddy with euphoria and loving the freedom to do as I pleased, sleep uninterrupted and eat food that was still hot. By day 3 I was missing her a lot and turning most conversations back to the subject of how wonderful, clever, fill in the blank she is. By day 4, I wanted to go back in the mommy cage (gilded though it is). That is the conundrum of mother hood. 
I had the most ludicrously long and unrealistic list of things I wanted to see, places I wanted to eat at and people I wanted to meet. First up on my list was the newly opened Kopapa, a cafe and restaurant by Peter Gordon.  I once did a 14 hour stint of work experience for Peter Gordon at the Providores on Maryelebone.   I remember being very surprised that 70% of the kitchen staff were petite females and that the kitchen was miniscule with allocated workspaces of less than 50cm per chef!  There were plenty of ingredients in his kitchen I had never seen before and I took copious notes to look them up later (‘barba di frate‘, palm sugar are two examples).  Their dishes were refreshingly original and weird riffs on classics, like vegetarian dolmades filled with quinoa and herbs (of which I made over 100). Read more of this post

The Barn, Coffee, Mitte

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.

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Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Prenzlauer Berg

Bonanza Coffee Heroes caught my eye the first time I walked past it.  It has a distinctive white neon sign, a distressed “we will be ready to open any day now” interior and of course the eye-catching sign outside that proclaims “Don’t die Before Trying” - no exclamation point.  They are very serious about coffee here, no chocolate milk, no decaf. They do coffee, a strong, dark coffee with delicate acanthus-like designs in the foam.

I have since come across loads of write ups for this place.  It uses a synesso cyncra which invokes a “Wow!” reaction in coffee geeks world-wide.  Apparently there are only 3 of these machines in Europe, according to Berlin Unlike.  Bloggers positively rave about it, like Cafe Kultur Berlin or the reviews on Bean Hunter.

And YES, they do make some wonderful coffee and in the words of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure - “We are not worthy…” of the über slick machine.

But you know what?  The service can be abysmal!  I just don’t understand why often in Berlin if you are a cool, coveted, trendy ”           ” fill in the blank shop, the perception is that you have carte blanche to behave like an idiot? Read more of this post


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