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10 December 2018

Six Speciality Coffee Shops To Try in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city so convenient to get to from London that it's rather embarrassing that my only previous visit was at the end of the last century. 2018 was the year I finally managed to right that wrong and top of my list of things to do was visiting some of the excellent speciality coffee shops and roasteries that the city now boasts. Of course, when friends and family ask why you're going to Amsterdam and you say, "for the coffee shops," a little clarification is required as to which type of coffee shop you mean. And of course, I meant the ones where I could drink a cup of freshly roasted, well brewed speciality-grade coffee. What were you expecting?


I only had two days in the city, arriving on Saturday morning and leaving on Sunday evening. The city centre is quite compact, however, and although I didn't have time to visit some of the further-out spots on my list, I did go to six coffee shops and was impressed with them all, both in terms of the quality of the coffee and the service. As usual, I've marked my absolute favourites in purple in the map below.



Central
Back to Black
On a cold, grey December Saturday afternoon, seeking cosiness was the order of the day and I found it in abundance at Black to Black, a small cafe perched above the Lijnbaansgracht canal. It was packed when I arrived, but I managed to find a seat perched at the counter. The cute, if sleepy, resident ginger kitty was sadly not willing to share his seat with me.



As it was very busy, I did not order a pourover or other black coffee (as one probably should at Back to Black) but a cortado, which was well brewed by the super-friendly baristas. Back to Black has roasted its own coffee since 2015, and bags of retail coffee are available to buy. And if you're into pie, the apple pie here looked especially good.


Back to Black is located at Weteringstraat 48. Website. Twitter. Instagram.


Bocca Coffee
Located between Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal) and Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), two of Amsterdam's three primary canals, Bocca Coffee's Kerkstraat location is a beautiful cafe that serves excellent coffee. After admiring the water fountain near the door — the now-outgrown and repurposed Probat coffee roaster Bocca first used — I then stopped to admire the colourful retail bags of beans. In the end, I decided to buy the Myanmar Hopong natural beans, although the Ethiopian Guji Dimtu Tero were a close second.



Luckily, the Ethiopian beans were available as a pourover at the brew bar, so I ordered one of those and took a seat at one of the small tables around the edge of the spacious, airy cafe. The wooden U-shaped counter occupies most of the space, but there are also cosy nooks with comfy seating if you don't fancy perching at the bar or at one of the high tables. The art, which relates to coffee production and origins, is also available to buy. In other words, Bocca's cafe is a coffee-lover's paradise.


My coffee arrived promptly, despite the cafe being quite busy, and came with a description of the coffee, whose forest fruit and orange flavour notes came through very nicely. I almost wished I'd bought the Ethiopian beans instead — but once I tried the Myanmar coffee at home, I was happy with my choice. With its relaxed atmosphere and friendly, knowledgeable staff, this is the kind of neighbourhood coffee shop every neighbourhood should have.


Bocca Coffee is located at Kerkstraat 96. Website. Twitter. Instagram.


Frederix Roastery X Coffee Bar
After avoiding the rain for most of the day, the heavens finally opened when I was in the De Pijp neighbourhood, and on my way back to my hotel, I sought shelter at Frederix Roastery X Coffee Bar, a refined but unpretentious cafe on Frederiksplein, just south of the eastern end of Prinsengracht. As the name suggests, Frederix roasts its own coffee as well as serving coffee and other drinks, breakfast and lunch.


From the outside, it looks as though there are just a few seats near the counter, but following the counter towards the back reveals a surprisingly light-filled area with marble tables, bistro chairs and comfortable leather sofas. I ordered an Aeropress brew, which featured Frederix's current filter roast, which blends Indonesian, South American and Africa coffees. Although a slightly darker roast than I usually go for, the coffee was well made and a good match for the wintry day outside.


Frederix is located at Frederiksplein 29. Website. Instagram.


Amsterdam West
Friedhats FUKU Cafe
Given that I knew Friedhats was a Dutch roaster, which I first came across in a Colombian–Dutch cafe in Crouch End, I had assumed its name meant something in Dutch. But when I put the question to co-owner Dylan, who I met at Friedhats' FUKU Cafe, he smiled and told me that it was in fact an anagram of Headfirst, the first cafe he worked in. FUKU is about two miles west of central Amsterdam — an easy tram or bike ride, or, in my case, a 40-minute power walk. However you journey there, it's well worth the trip.



After selecting some beans to take home as a gift, I perused the menu. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for a hand-brewed filter coffee — the 'super-special' Colombian and Ethiopian options (€7.50) sounded particularly good — but I did have time for an espresso, which I drank at the bar. I opted for the Kenyan Karimikui, which was very fruity with blackberry and currant notes. With its signature pops of vibrant yellow, the coffee bar is nicely designed too and it was busy even on a Sunday evening. Unfortunately, I didn't have any guilders to spend at the coffee-bean vending machine; one for next time, perhaps, although I so rarely have any hand money on me that even getting Euros out is enough of a faff.


Friedhats FUKU Cafe is located at Bos en Lommerweg 136. Website. Instagram.


Lot Sixty One
Lot Sixty One is another Amsterdam coffee roaster I first discovered at the excellent Velasquez and Van Wezel in Crouch End. Their cafe–roastery is a short walk from the city centre and I decided to head straight there for breakfast on Sunday morning. The coffee bar is on the ground floor, and there are a few seats by the windows. It was busy when I arrived, however, so I headed down into the basement where there some more seats next to the roaster and training lab.


There weren't any hand-brewed filter coffee options on the menu so I ordered a cortado with the new Nosegrind espresso — a blend of two natural coffees, one Nicaraguan and one Ethiopian, which promises flavour notes of blueberries, chocolate and 'funk'. The latter isn't necessarily something I look for in a coffee, but the Nosegrind blend tasted great with a little milk — fruit, chocolate and a jazzy twist. Once again, Acme's lovely new dark blue cups made an appearance (I didn't realise that their colours are chosen to reflect New Zealand wildlife).



Bags of retail beans, with classy royal blue and white packaging, are on sale by the coffee bar, but sadly, I didn't have any room in my bag for any more coffee on this occasion.

Lot Sixty One is located at Kinkerstraat 112. Website. TwitterInstagram.


Monks Coffee Roasters
Last, but most certainly not least, is Monks Coffee Roasters, not too far from Lot Sixty One on Bilderdijkstraat. Beyond the charcoal grey shopfront is a lovely, lively cafe that was bustling at the brunching hour on Sunday. I had already made other brunch plans, which was a pity as I was getting some serious food envy while I waited for my coffee.


My disappointment soon faded when the coffee arrived. I chose an Ethiopian Guji from Boot Koffie in Baarn, which had subtle lemon and jasmine flavours. The staff were also very welcoming even though it was very busy. Laptops and tablets are verboten but if you need further entertainment, you can choose from the excellent selection of magazines. Finally, I came across the second unique tap-water provision of the trip: a tap connected directly to a pipe that runs along the wall, with a plant underneath ready to catch any drips.


Monks is located at Bilderdijkstraat 46. Website. TwitterInstagram.

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