The fresh smell of coffee soon wafted through the apartment, the smell that separates night from day. – Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki
I still remember my first trip to Amsterdam. I must have been 16 or so, maybe even younger. My dad and I went on a motorcycle trip from his town in Northern Germany to Amsterdam. I’m not sure how long the trip lasted but I still vividly recall sitting on the back of his motorcycle thinking this was the coolest thing ever. Until we arrived in Amsterdam. Because my dad preferred to stay in a hotel outside the city. So we had to drive to the city centre fully equipped. Leather jacket and pants, helmet and all the weight that comes with it. Considering that at the tender age of 15/16 I was tall, thin and lanky, leather clothes didn’t look very cool on me. Needless to say, I felt slightly embarrassed walking the streets of hip and trendy Amsterdam with an hideous outfit and my dad by my side.
One of my favorite moments of that trip to Amsterdam must have been our visit to the red light district. If you’ve never been to Amsterdam, you might not know that the red light district is located in the city centre, right in the middle of a sightseeing and shopping area. So on our way back to the motorcycle, both of us an ice cream in our hands (yes, I forgot to mention, it was super warm that day as well), we suddenly made an abrupt halt in front of one of these warmly lit windows. Displaying a smiling women in her lingerie. Smiling at my dad and his ice cream. And honestly, that’s how I had remembered Amsterdam for many years until I moved to Holland for my studies. And got to know the fun student life. On my own turns.
After I graduated with my Bachelors degree I didn’t come back to Holland for more than 6 years. So when a good friend of mine moved to Amsterdam a few months ago, I thought that it was finally time again to pay the city a visit. Having been away for so many years the city didn’t feel the same anymore and yet it felt oddly familiar. Beautiful canal views, dancing houses, more bikes than cars and a somewhat bohemian and relaxed atmosphere. That hasn’t changed much. However a few things were added over the years. Tourists. Much more tourists. But also quaint little boutiques offering sustainable clothing. Cold-pressed juice shops. Hip roof top bars. More restaurants serving international cuisine. And lots of delicious coffee shops. As in shops that are serving brewing and serving coffee.
There are few cities that have the same effect on me like Amsterdam. It feels liberating, it feels free and it feels unconventional. It also seems small and cozy at the same time. And yet even though I feel at ease with myself and the world whenever I visit Amsterdam, I get too comfortable too quickly with it. But I also know that if I ever get tired of travelling and moving to different places, Amsterdam is one of a few destinations I can actually imagine living for a longer period of time. Especially now that I rediscovered its unique charm and explored its many amazing coffee spots.
Amsterdam Coffee & Cafe Guide
When I visited Amsterdam I knew that I’d be getting my fair share of cycling and strolling flower markets. What I didn’t realize is that I was falling back in love with coffee. For the longest time Amsterdam was known for a different kind of coffeeshop. It was indeed lacking in their coffee offering when I was living in Holland as a student. At that time all the foreign students were hoping for Starbucks to open in order to get a decent coffee once in a while. But now that the coffee boom is in full swing, it has long exceeded the quality and popularity of Starbucks. From local roasters over hip concept shops to award-winning speciality coffee, the coffee landscape has changed a lot in recent years. Every single coffee I drank during my trip reminded me of why I love coffee so much. There is not a single coffee shop that doesn’t offer at least one kind of plant-based mylk – usually it’s either almond or oat mylk.
Screaming Beans – Best coffee in town. Great spot to work.
Bocca Coffee – Minimalistic interior design. Award-winning coffee beans.
Monks Coffee Roasters – Delicious coffee, knowledgable staff and quit spot to work or read.
Lot Sixty One – A love affair of Italian espresso bar and Australian hipster café.
Trakteren Koffie – Plant-based coffee art. Think cats, bears and dogs made with oat mylk.
Coffee Room – Crunchy Acai bowls. Yellow awnings. Outdoor seating by the canal.
Dignita – Come here for an amazing breakfast with your morning coffee.