Before I visit a new city I try to meticulously research online about specialty coffee there. Twitter of course is a great resource. Bloggers can provide a more in depth look, and a few have put together some great maps. “Best coffee” searches are usually worthless (9 times out of ten it’s someone talking about Illy or Starbucks), but key words like “third wave” or “latte art”, though of debatable linguistic or culinary value, often uncover some good shops. I’ve even used the WBC website to find the national champs and work backwards from there. But by far the best resource I’ve found is old fashioned in person conversation with local baristas. Basically, if you find one quality shop, you can count on them to find all the others. Thanks to a little inside scoop from the kind folks at The Barn, I found out about Berlin’s latest coffee shop, Chapter One.
Chapter One is operated by Nora Šmahelová, a WBC judge and former German BaristaChampion. The shop only opened a few weeks ago, so the interior is still a little bare bones- they don’t have chairs yet- but Nora and her business partner have high ambitions of hosting coffee lectures, doing barista education courses, and making great coffee. If Chapter One is a little lacking in furniture it certainly isn’t in coffee equipment: they host a Siphon Brew Bar, La Marzocco Espresso Machine, and V60 and Aeropress brew options to boot. It seems the German market for slow coffee is much more receptive than other places in Europe, because I watched them make as many siphons as espressos during my visit.
On Siphon I had an Ethiopian Sidamo Dera Kabado from Johannes Bayer Kaffee, a small batch German roaster. The coffee was sweet with a delicate body and really nice floral notes. In short, it was the best cup of filter coffee I had in Germany. I for one was glad to see that there are small roasters that aren’t household names roasting really good coffee.
Their espresso is from another German roaster and tasted of fruit- very pleasant. If I hadn’t been already pushing my caffeine tolerance I would have liked to try it in milk.
I also really enjoyed chatting with Nora about the growing popularity of cezve as a brew method and specialty coffee in Turkey. I even got a list of cafes to check out while I’m in Prague- so I guess it comes circle. I love the spirit of community and cooperation you can find in the specialty coffee industry- it’s one of the best parts of visiting a new cafe.
Chapter One – nice people making good coffee. Just a short walk from the Gneisenaustraße U7 station.