El café, kawa, Kaffee…coffee. A day without a morning coffee is like Paris without the Eiffel Tower, Vatican without the Pope, and Kraków without the Main Square. The truth is… there’s no life without this dark matter. Yet, these days, it is easy to get lost in the coffee world. Is classic espresso no longer in vogue? Is latte passé? Is it true that, now, only seniors drink a machine-made black brew? Since we don’t want you to get lost, we will take you by the hand and explore the Kraków’s coffee path together. Let’s drink the first coffee of the day in the PURO lobby and embark on the journey through the city that brims with aromas and history!
“Warsaw doesn’t have as many intelligent residents as there are customers in one of Kraków’s cafes” – these words, uttered by Leon Chwistek a long time ago, make up a perfect description of Cafe Rio. In Kraków, beloved coffee enthusiast Andrzej Zaucha – in his “Piosenka z klawesynem” (Harpsichord song) – declared that “The world won’t come to an end unless Rio no longer serves coffee”. Nevertheless, it does serve coffee and has been doing it in an unchanged, fanciful way since 1959. Known for its coffee and exhibitions, the place has been a hub of (a now oldish) Kraków’s bohemia. They serve Italian espresso and a classic Wiener Melange.
A mecca not only for vegetarians and vegans, but also – and first of all – for coffee lovers. Workers at Karma roast the beans from only good and well-checked sources in their own coffee roasting plant at Wawrzyńca street. Karma began as a café serving exclusively organic and fair trade coffees. Now, it pays homage to the idea of direct trade, i.e. a direct cooperation of farmers and sellers of green coffee. Baristas eagerly describe the conditions, in which the coffee served at Karma is produced; they tell about the salaries farmers are paid for their job and, eventually and most importantly, about the coffee’s taste and aroma. They serve a classic filtered coffee, a drip brew coffee and an aeropress coffee.
A tiny café in Zabłocie run by Michał Pluta and Kuba Pospiszyl – two coffee aficionados and the pioneers of alternative brewing methods – who prepare and serve drip coffees and espressos with an extraordinary diligence and care. On a Summer morning, you can wake up by drinking a nitro coffee, the taste of which – strengthened with sparkling water – is blissfully invigorating. In a space no larger than a handkerchief, boys serve coffee, cakes, freshly-pressed juices, and amuse guests with talks. Beginning baristas will buy here brewing accessories and beans from Polish roasting plants that can be ground on-site.
Once known as a legendary Coffee Cargo, Coffee Proficiency is a local specialty coffee roasting plant away from the city center. But it’s worth visiting! The finest coffees are brought from specific, trusted plantations. In Kraków, they are roasted according to their individual features and needs. The quality is monitored by the team of experienced specialists and the glass walls of the laboratory allow the visitors to watch the roasting process. We can choose between mild, sweet beans beautifully corresponding with milk coffees and beans of higher acidity and fruit and flowery aromas that give rise to a strong espresso. Experimenters can try coffee brewed by an aeropress, chemex, or drip. The plant representatives are invited to coffee events all over the world as jury members and speakers.
“Lepiej pić kawę niż nie” (It’s better to drink coffee than not) – the neon light with this inscription at Wesoła street welcomes the sleepy-heads rushing to work or classes, for the café is located nearby the University of Economics, office buildings, and the Krakow Opera. The place is famous for its exquisite breakfasts and fresh, light-roast specialty coffee from small-scale Polish plants such as Audun Coffee in Bydgoszcz. The brew is most often prepared in a drip machine, aeropress, chemex, or a siphon. You can also read specialist coffee publications and buy the bible of coffee enthusiasts – the Standard Magazine quarterly.
Kraków has places where coffee is brewed neither in alternative ways nor in coffee machines (bashfully hidden behind the curtain). Those places are ruled by finjan coffee pots, also known as jezwas. The coffee brewed in these fancy utensils is known as Israeli Coffee. A finely ground coffee with spices such as cardamom, cloves or cinnamon is sweetened with sugar, poured with cold water and slowly boiled. It’s served in small cups without milk. This way, the brew releases its unique aroma, which immediately takes us to the world of one thousand and one nights. If you want to try it, go to hummusiji Hummus Amamamusi and Cheder Cafe.
text: Kasia Pilitowska
illustration: Foxtrot Studio
photos: courtesy of Coffee Proficiency, Wesoła Cafe, Cafe Cheder