0 New

26 June 2018

Eight Speciality Coffee Shops To Try in Budapest

With its rich history, beautiful architecture and soothing thermal baths, Budapest comes high on many travel buckets list. And after the Specialty Coffee Association's 2017 World of Coffee event in the Hungarian capital, I realised the city's growing speciality coffee scene gave me another reason to visit.


As usual, I researched the city’s coffee shops before I went — the World of Coffee map was particularly helpful. And as I was travelling with my mum, who doesn't like coffee, my coffee shop visits had to be both selective and opportunistic. Most shops are on the Pest side of the Danube, and many — conveniently, if not not coincidentally — are within a short walk of my hotel, Brody House. My favourites are marked with an asterisk below and are in purple in my Budapest coffee map. A coffee will rarely cost more than 900 HUF (about £2.50) for a coffee — and for an espresso or cortado, it is usually closer to 600 HUF (£1.60).



Budapest Baristas
Two minutes’ walk from the Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest Baristas' vibrant green façade stands out on the busy Múzeum körút. The interior design is just as lovely, with a clean minimalist look — light wood and exposed brick, with black accents. It also has a small mezzanine level directly above the coffee bar, adding extra tables to the small cafe.


The first time I walked past, the queue was out of the door, but I returned at a quieter time to return. The coffee is from Hungarian roaster Casino Mocca, and although hand-brewed filter coffee options are available, we were in a hurry, so I stuck to a cortado. They had Ethiopian Reko beans in the hopper and the cortado was very well-balanced. If the Hungarian heat is getting to you, you may like to try the cold brew or an espresso tonic. There’s an extensive breakfast menu too.



Budapest Baristas is located at Múzeum körút 15. Facebook. Instagram.


Espresso Embassy


The last coffee shop I visited before it was time to return to the airport was also one of the best. Located in central Pest, Espresso Embassy is a cosy spot with vaulted brick ceilings that reminded me of Kavárna Pražírna in Prague. Casino Mocca supplies the coffee here too, and there was a Colombian ‘quick brew’ on offer as well as a Burundi hand-brew filter. Meanwhile, there were two espresso varieties available, and I ordered a cortado with the Sao Pedro from Brazil. The coffee tasted great and we enjoyed the brief moments of cool calm, away from the heat and crowds of a sunny Budapest Sunday.


Espresso Embassy is located at Arany János utca 15. Website. Instagram.


Fekete
Fekete appears on many Budapest coffee menus because it is the Hungarian word for black. It’s thus unsurprising that Fekete is one of the best places in the city for filter coffee. It’s also one of the most pleasant spots to sip a caffeinated beverage, especially if you can score a table in the historic, pale green courtyard. The cafe itself, small and slim, has a few seats too.


They roast their own coffee and the merch shelf hosts a wealth of single-origin beans, as well as assorted coffee kit (including a rare 6 oz KeepCup). As we’d arrived during the Friday morning rush, I ordered the just-brewed batch-brew filter coffee — a Tanzanian Lyula — rather than a pourover. This proved to be a great choice, as the rosehip and currant notes of the coffee shone through clearly in my brew. We’d taken breakfast at our hotel, but the food at Fekete looked delicious too.



Fekete is located at Múzeum körút 5. Website. Instagram.


Kaffeine
Kaffeine was a serendipitous discovery on our last morning. We had headed to a coffee shop called One Cup, only to find it permanently closed. Luckily, Kaffeine was right across the street and after spotting Hasbean coffee on the A-board, I figured I would be in good hands. As the sun was shining, we decided to sit outside at one of the tables on the pedestrianised street, but there is plenty of comfortable seating inside the grey-accented cafe.


The espresso-based drinks are brewed with Hasbean coffee (a Nicaraguan–Guatemalan blend), and there were also two filter coffees available from Hungarian roaster One Eleven. There was a washed Kenyan on the batch brew, but I ordered the Ethiopian washed Kochere as a pourover. The coffee was very flavoursome, and speciality tea-drinkers will be pleased to know that my tea correspondent spoke highly of her tea (even if she did disappoint the barista by adding a little milk).


Kaffeine is located at Baross utca 6. Website. Instagram.


Kontakt
Kontakt is small and minimalist, with mostly monochrome decor (including a beautiful white coffee bar set-up), other than the colourful wall of coffee, which featured familiar names like Colonna, Round Hill, Koppi and Five Elephant. The menu is brief — you can have an espresso, without or with milk (120 ml or 230 ml). They also serve pourover coffee and nitro cold brew, but no americano, the menu notes, no sugar and no milk in drip coffee. But “yes good coffee”.



I concur with the last point. My cortado, made with the Koppi Slopes of 8 espresso, was excellent: very well-balanced and served at the perfect temperature. On ordering, you receive a buzzer, which means you can wait at your table until your coffee is ready — essential given the small size of the coffee shop. They don’t have food but Szimply, just across the way, serves a mean brunch.


Kontakt is located at Károly körút 22. Website. Instagram.


Madal
There are three branches of Madal Cafe in Budapest, the first of which opened in 2013. The name is taken from the nickname of Indian spiritualist Sri Chinmoy, whose philosophy inspired the founders; the wall at the Hollán Ernő location I visited features both photographs of Chinmoy and the message, 'good coffee, good karma.'


The coffee was indeed very good. It is roasted by Madal's in-house roaster Beyond Within. They serve Aeropress- and V60-brewed filter coffee, but I ordered a piccolo made with a Rwandan Mahembe single origin; there was also a seasonal Paramount espresso blend available. There were plenty of tables in the small, subterranean Hollán Ernő coffee shop, but it was such a nice day that we sat outside instead. You can perch at the bar on the cafe's outside wall, or take a seat at one of the tables in the pedestrianised street.


Madal is located at Hollán Ernő utca 3 (there are other branches at Alkotmány utica 4, and Ferenciek tere 3). Website. Instagram.


Steamhouse Cafe
Steamhouse Cafe the only coffee shop in Buda in this guide, is located in a grand market building near Batthyány tér Metro station. Due to a mix-up at our lunch spot, I hadn't eaten. Luckily, Steamhouse saved the day on both fronts, rustling up a Viennese sausage sandwich, and making me a very fine cortado.


The cortado, which was made with a Rwandan single-origin coffee from Greek roaster Taf, was well-made and my mum spent an enjoyable 20 minutes perched at a table by the windows pictured in the photo above. We could see right across the Danube to the striking Hungarian Parliament Building on the Pest side — an impressive sight.


Steamhouse Cafe is located at Batthyány tér 5. Website.


Tamp & Pull
A coffee tour of Budapest wouldn't be complete without a visit to one of the original speciality coffee shops, Tamp & Pull, which has been serving beautifully prepared coffee since 2012. We stopped by the tiny coffee shop just after visiting the Great Market Hall, which is a short walk away. Located on a quiet side street, Tamp & Pull is a little off the beaten track but well worth seeking out.


As you may have noticed, I drank a lot of cortados and piccolos on this trip — partly because of time constraints and partly because hand-brewed filter coffee wasn't offered everywhere I went. I knew Tamp & Pull wouldn't disappoint, however, and I ordered an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe pourover with coffee from One Eleven. It was absolutely delicious — the best filter coffee of the trip — and smelled so lovely that even my coffee-hating mum was almost tempted to try some, possibly because of the bright, tea-like notes.


Also on the menu were various espresso-based drinks, as well as an espresso tonic and a matcha tonic. There are only a few tables inside, but friendly staff and cool artwork — including a deconstructed Faema Star on the wall — add to the appeal of this delightful coffee shop.

Tamp & Pull is located at Czuczor utca 3. Website. Instagram.


There are many other coffee shops I didn’t make it to on this trip; one of these is the relatively new Next Door Caffee, located just south of Andrássy utca near the Opera House. I walked past several times but never at the right time and I didn’t manage to visit, although it looked lovely.


2 comments:

  1. Nice summary! Thank you for spreading the word about Budapest specialty coffee scene! Next time you come to Hungary drop me a message via specialty.hu if you want to meet some coffee people in the town. Have a nice day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Now I must visit Budapest :)

    I love to read your coffee chronicles

    ReplyDelete