Amsterdam has got more coffeeshops than you can shake a stick at, but most of them aren’t selling coffee, or if they are it’s not the good stuff, or should I say the specialty stuff. That is unless you know where to look, coffee houses have been popular in Amsterdam for a long time and there’s plenty of them if you’re willing to sift through tonnes of misdirected recommendations for hazy hash driven ‘coffee’ joints. Take a walk down some of the westerly canals or in some of the more leafy suburbs and you’ll find plenty of passion for roasting and brewing more than just an accompaniment, here you’ll find micro roasters and independents that are all riding the third wave.
By the time we’d arrived and checked into our hotel it was getting later on in the day, but we still managed to catch Toki a couple of hours before closing. Popping in to the shop it mirrored its off the beaten path surroundings with slow paced quiet serenity, almost meditatively we approached the bar before enquiring about the filter menu. Unfortunately they had run out of filter for the day and instead directed us to the espresso based menu, so we switched our order for an espresso and a cappuccino.
The drinks arrived with a burnt crème brulee spoon flourish, as we sat surrounded by low key design quirks, choosing to leaf through plenty of the stylish looking reading materials that had been laid out. The espresso arrived with jasmine and white grape aromas, as I began to notice the artsy crowd that occupied various seating within the shop, this was clearly a creative quarter for those looking to get quietly inspired. To taste there was biscuits and treacle tarts at the front with a bright apple and gooseberry tang on the back end, checking the hopper on the way out it had been a blend from Stooker Roasting co featuring 50% Ethiopian and 50% Brazilian, which explained clearly the flavours coming from the espresso. We stayed a while attuning to the relaxed atmosphere before taking our leave for our intended destination.
Binner Dommersstraat 15
1013 HK Amsterdam
On the outside of Westergasfabriek in Westerpark, Espresso Fabriek occupies the corner of a community park hall of sorts, we had made our way up there to check out the indoor and outdoor markets, while fully aware that this gem was tucked in amongst them. After having a general browse we made our way in and joined the generous queue. Featuring a wealth of coffees and brew methods to choose from, we opted instead for the recommended Kenyan on batch filter.
With their roaster tucked upstairs on the mezzanine level, this was the first of many coffee shop roasteries, we’d be visiting in Amsterdam, with having control over roasting your own coffee appearing to be of significant importance to shops here. Pouring out our batch brew, we took up seats in the window and watched the comings and goings of the market outside from the warm comfort of the indoors.
Wafting aromas of stewed red fruits and dark chocolate emanated from the Kenyan and added to the condensation on the inside of the window, to taste there were big bright stewed red fruits with a juicy mouthfeel and a winey nature, which warmed us as we watched the people outside. Espresso Fabriek, felt like a functional and necessary café offering a respite from the park, or with its outside seating, a way to sit relax and watch the happenings outside. A traditional family café of sorts, but with really great coffee.
1014 DB Amsterdam
The next morning we headed without any hesitation to Bakers & Roasters, a blend of Kiwi and Brazilian inspiration, Bakers & Roasters focuses around amazing brunch with great coffee with a long list of healthy juices for those less caffeine inclined. It was busy when we entered (no surprises there) so we joined the seated queue and patiently waited for a table, before one became available. Browsing the menu it should have been difficult to choose, but we were both in the mood for Huevos Rancheros and placed an order for two along with their brewed coffee, which was an Ethiopian Guji natural from Ozone Coffee.
Waiting for the food to arrive, we enjoyed the pleasant café environment to sit in, whilst busy it never feels rushed and with some ex pat Australasian staff on hand the service is friendly and fun. The open kitchen with its produce confidently out front is a good sign of quality and the airy window lit large table at the back is beautifully presented. Our coffee arrived to break the mental wanderings followed closely by the food and I wasn’t sure which one I was more excited for.
The Ethiopian Guji was singing aroma notes of yellow fruit and sherbety florals loudly over the spicy tones of the food and almost demanded my attention first. Tasting the coffee there was bittersweet melon flavours with grapes and raisins and a toffee sweetness all wrapped up in a big mouthfeel, I didn’t know it at the time, but this standout coffee was by far one of the best I had in Amsterdam and this place wasn’t even a dedicated coffeeshop.
On to the Huevos Rancheros and needless to say the crispy tortilla, mounds of plump black beans, swathes of acidic tomatoes and creaminess of the soured cream and avocado were all beautifully accentuated by the emollient of the egg yolk. Great coffee with a plethora of great brunch options, makes for a place I just can’t resist. Cakes are one thing, but decent eggs with coffee are another and when good they’re always worth the wait.
Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 54
1072 BH Amsterdam
Catching a tram out of the city centre, we headed out to a quiet and unassuming neighbourhood in west Amsterdam, solely for the purpose of coming to White Label Coffee. I’ve had the pleasure of trying White Label’s coffee before and it had been good, great even and so we had to come see where the magic happened. Popping inside, for all of the places artsy quirks, like having the shop on multiple levels and seating arranged in various unusual fashions, it still retained the feel of a neighbourhood coffee shop, that felt like it was still frequented by locals.
Approaching the open bar feels a bit like ordering a coffee in someone else’s kitchen, albeit somebody’s expensive designer kitchen, where the staff look straight off the cover of a fashion magazine, but we’re encouraged to take a seat first to browse the menu.
I had it on good authority from Paul Henry of Press coffeehouse fame that the Brazilian Tobazio Peaberry was amazing, but with hazelnuts and milk chocolate not being my usual bag when it comes to coffee, I chickened out last second and ordered the Colombia San Alberto, based on the sparkling sweet cherry tasting notes. Paul later sent me a sample of the Tobazio and in fairness, it was one of the best Brazilians I’d ever had.
Brewed on a V60 the Colombian arrived smelling and looking a bit like a glass of cherry coke and to taste it was pretty similar, a mixture of sweet chocolate covered cherries and cherry cola, not as great as the peaberry I tried later, but one of the most unusual coffees I’ve tried to date.
Sipping away we took in the strange surroundings of the roastery café, there was lots going on, on plenty of different levels. Retail and window seats in the front, led to long tables with soft lighting and artsy ornaments, before the stairs rose to the kitchen and stool seating, dropping back down on the other side to the roasting area and toilets, with a seat up in the back amongst the foliage and green coffee. Far from your traditional layout, White Label serve far from traditional coffee, in what seems to be an unusually selected neighbourhood and yet all of it feels right.
Jan Evertsenstraat 136
1056 EK Amsterdam