Nomad Espresso: Tips from the coffee caravan…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy frequently lists a towel as the wanderer’s most essential object for successful travels. However, barring a nutrient-endowed towel like Roosta’s, a nomad needs to think about fuel before anything else. Discovering the flavors of the world is just one more stimulating aspect of being in new, diverse environments. And of all the delightful morsels and elixirs out there, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a substance more universal and yet variant than coffee.

Coffea arabica, that ancient, exotic beverage of our nomadic spiritual forebears. The love for java has spread to just about every country and city you’re likely to visit, and so I find it particularly diverting to sample its exquisite variations. Even within the limits of Berlin, I’m constantly encountering new brews. As I find noteworthy coffeeshops, I’ll continue to devote a post here and there to this little passion of mine.

So far, I’d like to share thoughts on a handful of Berlin coffee spots.

Café Kotti, Adalbertstraße 96, Kottbusser Tor.
Literally perched above the bustling multi-kulti hub of Kottbusser Tor, this café offers such a wonderful, cozy atmosphere. You can either ensconce yourself inside the café, amidst many comfortable pieces of furniture, with a wide selection of power outlets and tables for working, or outside at a table on the Tor mezzanine. I had a basic Milchkaffee there, and was pleasantly surprised by the rich, strong flavor. The staff are also extremely nice and laid-back—when one couldn’t make change for my inconvenient fifty-euro bill, she just told me to come back later and pay. Completely trusting. In any case, I scuttled down to the tasty Turkish bakery below and made some change presto pronto. Great café.

Café CK, Marienburger Straße 49, Prenzlauer Berg.
I went here on the recommendation of my Kumpel Michael Cahill, and it was definitely worth the little trip up to Prenzlberg. There are many places in Berlin that can fix you a good Milchkaffee, cappuccino or espresso, and even a growing number who offer something called a “caffè latte,” but this drink rarely resembles a latte as we born Seattleites know it—smooth yet intensely flavorful, and hopefully crowned with a foam fern, heart or other flourish. Café CK, however, has mastered the art. The latte was delicious and the café is one of those whose front wall can be completely raised, offering the charming sensation of sitting in an elevated frame while enjoying the open-air experience of sitting outside at a street table.

Espresso Bar, Keithstraße 5, Wittenbergplatz.
During an afternoon lull at the demonstration against the proposed 2013 GEMA tariff reforms, I took a stroll down the street and happened upon this truly lovely little coffeeshop. Everything was just perfectly executed, from the immaculate interior décor with the bar, counters and molded white stools, to the sleek graphic design on their signage and postcards, to the delicious cappuccino I ordered. Outside they had an array of small table cubes and seats, where I gathered with other demo attendees to sip and unwind to the chill techno pulsing down the street. Definitely a good find.

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