02 May 2017

72 Hours in Prague III: 8 Great Places for Speciality Coffee in Prague

This is the third of my series of '72 hours in Prague' posts; please also check out part I for things to do and part II for drinking and dining tips.

Although my mum and I booked our recent holiday in Prague in October, I only started to research the trip properly a week or two before we went. I had been saving a few Prague-related coffee spots in my Instapaper account, though, as and when I came across them. I expected to find a handful of speciality coffee shops in the city but was pleasantly surprised to find about 15 places to add to my long list.

This recent upsurge is at least partly due to the city's barista training school, Kavove Kurzy, run by Gwilym Davies and Petra Veselá. But with only 72 hours to spend in the city — and a non-coffee-drinking travel companion — I needed a bit of guidance narrowing down my to-do list. Among the resources I consulted were: European Coffee Trip's Prague guide; the Prague Foodie Map (which has an excellent coffee section and an interview with Gwilym and Petra); and the Prague tourist board's coffee guide (which organises cafes into different categories, from classics to more modern spots that will please even the most dedicated third-wave riders).

In the end, I visited eight different coffee spots, which I've organised below based on location. I was also pleased to be able to try coffee from several Czech roasters, including Doubleshot, Nordbeans and Kavárna Pražírna, as well as enjoying coffee from some favourite European roasters.

Prague 1
EMA Espresso (Na Florenci 1420/3, Prague 1). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

One of the most central of the coffee shops I went to, EMA Espresso was also the first place I visited. A short walk from the Old Town, EMA is a lively coffee shop serving espresso-based drinks, as well as hand-brewed filter coffees, teas and light bites. We couldn't stay long so I ordered a piccolo, which was made with a Costa Rican coffee from Koppi (there was also a JB Kaffee coffee on offer). The coffee was excellent and the cafe an attractive place to sit and chat, read or work. There is a long communal table facing the coffee bar and a few smaller tables, as well as a small mezzanine level. They also sell a wide variety of coffee kit.

Onesip Coffee (Haštalská 755/15, Prague 1). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Probably the tiniest coffee bar I visited — and one of the loveliest — Onesip is located on a quiet street in the Old Town, a few moments from the Convent of St Agnes and a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Old Town Square. Despite its diminutive size, Onesip punches above its weight in terms of its coffee offering. While I was there, there were coffees available from Round Hill Roastery (UK), Workshop (UK), The Coffee Collective (Denmark) and JB Kaffee (German): a veritable European tour! I had a piccolo with an Ethiopian JB Kaffee coffee and it was flawless. The turquoise coffee cups, which coordinated nicely with the Kees van der Westen Spirit machine, were lovely too. You can also buy beautifully packaged and delicious chocolate bars from Ajala.

Prague 2
Kavárna Pražírna (Lublaňská 676/50, Prague 2). Website.

Although Gwilym and Petra didn't really answer the question in the Prague Foodie Guide interview about their favourite Prague coffee shop, they did mention Kavárna Pražírna in their answer, and so I figured I should try to pay a visit. Located near the I.P. Pavlova metro station in Prague 2, Pražírna occupies a cosy but cool basement space, consisting of several, interconnected rooms with vaulted ceilings and brick walls. One of the rooms houses the roaster, which wasn't in use while I was there. I ordered a piccolo, which was made using a Peruvian Union y Fe coffee roasted in house. While I waited, I admired the impressive selection of coffee-making kit on display behind the bar. There were also copies of the Czech edition of Standart Magazine on sale. My coffee was excellent and I loved the relaxed atmosphere at Pražírna.

Prague 5
Cafe Lounge (Plaská 615/8, Prague 5). Website. Twitter. Instagram.
Usually when I plan a trip to a new city, I research the best coffee places and try to stay close to as many as possible. However, we booked our Prague hotel in Malá Strana before I'd discovered that there wasn't much good coffee near by. Prague is small, though, and it was less than 15 minutes' walk to Cafe Lounge, what seemed to be the best speciality coffee option in the neighbourhood.

Cafe Lounge is owned by the same team who run EMA, but the former has a full kitchen and is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We arrived early on Saturday morning and got the avocado toast orders in (there are other, less hipster brunch dishes too). Like at EMA, filter coffees from Koppi and JB Kaffee were available, and there was an extensive hand-brewed filter coffee menu, which included detailed descriptions of the various brew methods. I had another Koppi coffee, this one a Colombian brewed through the V60. The coffee and our brunch dishes were great, and Cafe Lounge is a great spot to try, particularly handy for the Petřín funicular. We sat in the relatively formal dining room, but when the weather is nicer there is a lovely courtyard.

Prague 6
Místo (Bubenečská 12, Prague 6). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

The folks at Můj šálek kávy (see below) recommended that I also visited their 'newest' cafe, Místo, up in Prague 6. I'd assumed it was only a few months old but it turned out they'd been open for a couple of years! I was short on time so I hopped one stop on the metro to Hradčanská, and Místo was a short walk through the attractive residential neighbourhood. The cafe is large, light and airy with plenty of different seating areas — the nook to the right of the door as you come in might be good for working, but I took a seat at the high table opposite the coffee bar. It was busy mid-morning on a Monday with a buzzy but relaxed vibe. As well as the usual espresso-based drinks, three single-origin coffees from Czech roaster Doubleshot were available as hand-brewed filter coffees. There was also a tasting flight of the trio, so naturally I had to order that. It came with a quiz and I was pleased that I correctly identified the Brazilian, Colombian and Burundi coffees. The Colombian was my favourite but all three were nicely brewed.

Although I'd already eaten breakfast and didn't have room for one of the bigger breakfast dishes, I remembered the Prague Foodie Map folks' tip to order a peanut věneček (a sort of choux pastry doughnut filled with peanut cream), so I did and it was delicious. Possibly the nicest thing I ate in Prague!

Prague 8
Eska (Pernerova 4, Prague 8). Website. Instagram.

Although we went to Eska, in Prague's Karlin district, for the breakfast rather than the coffee, the coffee was also particularly good. They serve coffee from Czech roaster Nordbeans and the menu included Aeropress- and V60-brewed filter coffees as well as espresso-based drinks. I started with a really lovely, fruity Mahembe coffee from Rwanda, brewed through the V60. Later, I tried a flat white, which was also very well brewed. If you can't get a table at Eska, you can always get your coffee to go — and maybe pick up some bread, pastries, Ajala chocolate and a few deli items and feast on your picnic in one of the nearby parks.

Můj šálek kávy (Křižíkova 386/105, Prague 8). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

As a former linguist, I always like to spell foreign names correctly — and that includes the correct accents. Můj šálek kávy's name was impossible to write without downloading the Czech keyboard on my iPhone, but even if it's hard to spell or to say, the Karlin-based coffee shop is well worth seeking out. It's often busy, particularly at brunch o'clock, and you might have to wait for a table at peak times, although you probably won't mind too much if it's a warm day and you can soak up the sun on the benches outside. The coffee is from Doubleshot, and I had an excellent cortado brewed with a smooth, flavoursome Finca Hartmann coffee from Panama.

Prague 10
Coffee Room (Korunní 1208/74, Prague 10). Website. Instagram.

A little way east of the city centre in hip Vinohrady, Coffee Room celebrated its third birthday on the day I arrived in Prague. I didn't make it over there until my last day when the birthday balloons and banners had come down, but the small, busy coffee was still bustling and vibrant. I couldn't stay for the famed avocado toast, but I did have a good cortado, while sitting in the window seat and taking advantage of the people-watching opportunities. I hear it gets pretty packed at the weekends, but there are plenty of other places near by (the burgers at Dish are supposed to be excellent) in case you want to come back during a quieter time.

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