The call is coming from inside the house! This may be the first time that I have written a post about a place from inside the place itself, so here I am sitting in Copenhagen Coffee Lab (R. Nova da Piedade 10, 1200-298 Lisboa) writing this post! The coffee scene in Lisbon is very particular. The coffee is very strong, comes from only a few national producers, and is usually taken in tiny shots like espresso standing up at a bar. Barring that, you can get various dilutions with milk and sugar. When espresso exists it is often in the form of Nespresso pods, which seem to have taken the entire city by storm. All of this is fine, but sometimes you just want some really good coffee. Thankfully, Copenhagen Coffee Lab, a new third wave coffee shop, has opened in the cute neighborhood of São Bento.
In Scandinavia coffee is king. While in Copenhagen we tried what was purported to be the best coffee in the world. Copenhagen Coffee Lab makes no such bombastic claims, but I can definitely say that this is the best coffee I have had in Lisbon. And, this place is actually run by two Danes, and imports all of their coffee from the Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Copenhagen, making it sort of a cross-country mini-chain. At Copenhagen Coffee Lab (Lisbon) you can get your full range of espresso-based drinks, from a single shot to a flat white to iced coffee, a dirty chai latte and beyond. For those with more refined tastes you can also get filter coffee made in a V60 (4€), Aeropress (4€) or French Press( 6/10€).
For the non-coffee drinker there are hot teas, chais and house-made iced teas (a rarity here). They get their Chais from David Rio in San Francisco, and they are very tasty, though sometimes they will run out for a week when more is being ordered from San Fran. Along with the full coffee, there is a nice selection of foods and snacks including Swedish style kanellebullar cinnamon rolls, muffins, knækbrød flatbread with spreads, yogurt, oatmeal and creative salads for lunch. This is the perfect place for vegans or vegetarians, or anyone who wants a laid-back brunch with great coffee.
Moreover, what drew us to Copenhagen Coffee Lab is that it is also a great place to study and work, which is no secret because the place is full of people with laptops on most days. True, this may also be a little off putting (and we are contributing to the problem) but there are still plenty of people just chatting. There is also a larger communal table in back where those working tend to congregate. The crowd seemed to mostly be foreigners, and my hunch is that Lisboetas have not quite embraced this type of third wave coffee that deviates so far from their traditions (and there are no pasteis de nata sold here). Whether you are looking to use the free Wifi or not, Copenhagen Coffee Lab is a must for any coffee fiend in Lisbon.
I just realized after all this time that though I had posted a tutorial on how to use a Bialetti stove-top espresso maker, I never did the same for pour-over coffee! This is ironic, since using a Chemex was the way I used to brew my coffee before I discovered Bialetti (actually out of lack of choice) when we were living in Portugal. The Pour-over style is cited sometimes as a fancy third-wave way to brew coffee, but it actually pretty historic – and easy! The coffeemaker I use for my pour-over coffee is a Chemex, a design classic invented in 1941 by scientist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, and its design is now in MOMA’s permanent collection. In order to brew in a Chemex, you will need filters (either paper or reusable – each has pros and cons), and some medium-ground coffee (about the consistency of kosher salt). Below you will see my Chemex setup – I have the 6-cup Chemex model, and I use a kitchen scale to measure the coffee and water.
The basic steps to making pour-over coffee are:
First, wet the filter after placing in it in the Chemex, so it adheres to the sides of the coffeemaker. Then discard this water. This step is not necessary if you are using a metal filter.
Boil your water – the amount will vary depending on how much coffee you want to make. You will begin pouring the water just after it has boiled (about 200 F).
Add the coffee grounds to the filter. The rule of thumb we use is 2 grams of coffee per oz of water, and the Chemex guide itself recommends “1 rounded Tablespoon for 5 oz of coffee.” We use a kitchen scale to measure this out.
Slowly pour a small amount of water over the ground coffee, just enough to cover it, this is to make the coffee “bloom.”
Once this amount of water has siphoned through, begin pouring the rest of the hot water over the grounds slowly in a circular fashion. The key is to pour slowly, and taking care to avoid pouring the water directly on the sides of the glass.
All in all, this process should only take about 4 minutes. It may take some tweaking to get the perfect coffee to water ratio, depending on the size of the coffee grind, and how strong you like your coffee. You can look at step-by-step photos at Stumptown and Blue Bottle. There is no perfect ratio, so play around with it, and there are other types of pour-over coffee pots to explore. Pour-over coffee may seem intimidating, but it really isn’t!
We are serious about our coffee (well at least one of the two of us is) so we were extremely excited to hear about the opening of Sawada Coffee (112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607). The small coffee bar, which is actually located inside of the BBQ spot Green Street Smoked Meats, is a collaboration between restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff and master Japanese coffee impresario Hiroshi. Sawada founded Streamer Coffee Co., a darling of the Tokyo coffee scene, and is also a world latte art champion. With a pedigree like that you have to figure the coffee is probably going to be pretty serious.
The selection of drinks at Sawada is relatively small, but there are some notable choice like boozy steamers, and the signature drink of Sawada, the Military Latte. The Military Latte, which just may be one of the most photographed drinks in all of Chicago (which we are contributing to, of course), is basically a mashup of a mocha, a matcha green tea latte and a shot of espresso. It sounds kind of bizarre, but tasted divine, and looks even better. The more standard coffee drinks like cortado and cappuccino at Sawada are also crafted with care, and the knowledgeable baristas are friendly. There are few seats around the window by the coffee bar (and at the ping pong table) but the traffic also seems to overflow into the Green Street Smoked Meats area, so there is a bit more room. If you are feeling peckish they even offer Doughnut Vault doughnuts.
We are pretty fond of the Swedish way of taking coffee, Fika, and we also love their idea of the “cake table” aka kaffebröd or fikabröd which accompanies this traditional Swedish fika coffee break. A cake table typically includes cakes (obviously), cookies, pastries and other sweet treats. We think that a full fika with cakes and cookies is the perfect way to celebrate St. Lucia’s day, a holiday celebrated in Sweden on December 13th. Here are some top picks that we think would be perfect on any holiday table (or just for fun):
We arrived in Denmark with a near-complete ignorance of Danish food. Not on purpose of course, but knowing no Danish people or restaurants in Chicago, we only have our perusal of the Nordic Food Labs Twitter account to go on. On our way back to Chicago from Europe, we happened (well, opted) to have a 12 hour layover in Copenhagen. Even though we had very little time, we were determined to make the most of it. We got up early, and set out to the center of town on the weird little operator-less, futuristic monorail from our airport hotel. We do know the country is purported to have some of the best coffee in the world, so we made that a priority.
The purported best coffee in the world is served at Coffee Collective (Vendersgade 6D 1363 Copenhagen K)which now has a mini empire of shops in Copenhagen. We visited the location in Torvehallerne, an interesting place to visit in its own right, because it boasts over 60 vendors under one roof.
At Coffee Collective, there were two varieties of single origin coffee: Kenyan and Guatemalan. We ordered a cortado and hot chocolate from a pleasant barista with accentless English (like most Danes seemed to have). Both drinks were good, but the coffee was a little steep at about $8 USD. We think you may have to try for yourself to see if this is indeed the best coffee in the world, though M thought the hot chocolate was excellent.
After coffee, we wandered around the Torvehallerne a bit more to check out the other stores, which included cafes, greengrocers and bakeries. We supplemented our coffee with cardamom and cinnamon rolls from Laura’s Bakery in the same market (20 K apiece), which were quite good. We were pretty excited to see that they are actually called “Cinnabuns” in Danish, too. We took our breakfast to eat on the wooden tables flanking the market, and as you can see from the photo below there are truly bikes everywhere!
We wandered the pleasant and orderly streets until we found a lunch place that seemed to strike our fancy. We happened upon the cute and trendy Ricco’s Kaffebar (Strandboulevarden 98, 2100 Copenhagen) and we knew it fit the bill. In addition to coffee and baked goods, Ricco’s had a selection of traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches, Smørrebrød. We ordered a caramelized potato open-faced sandwich with Brunede Kartofler, or caramelized potatoes, and a goat cheese sandwich on rye. Both were tasty and surprisingly filling.
Despite being a relatively chilly country, Danes are also big on ice cream. You will see ice cream shops everywhere, including this classic shop by the water boasting a giant cone statue – Vaffelbageren (Nyhavn 49, 1051 Copenhagen). Other top choices for ice cream in Copenhagen that are more unique are Siciliansk Is (Skydebanegade 3, Copenhagen 1709) and Ismageriet (Kongelundsvej 116, Copenhagen 2300). Siciliansk Is specializes in authentic Italian gelato, and Ismageriet specializes in local, seasonal Danish flavors.
Though we were only able to visit Copenhagen for a short time, it was enough to make us want to come back for more. Copenhagen is one of the top foodie destinations in Europe, and there are enough places to fill weeks of eating adventures.
Pourover coffee is having a moment, but now Starbucks in Japan is taking it one further with their “origami” single use pourover kit. Seems like a pretty cool way to brew coffee, and we certainly prefer it over the more common single-serve coffee method of K-Cups or freeze dried coffee powder. What do you think – would you use origami?
One of the classic sights in Lisbon is seeing an elaborate beverage and snack stand in the center of a plaza or at the edge of a park. Now these are not modern, boxy newsstand-type places, these are cool, ornate turn-of-last-century (or earlier) ironwork masterpieces called quiosques (kiosks). Quiosques typically serve an array of snacks, coffee drinks, juices, and alcoholic beverages. Typically outfitted with metal tables and chairs, you can lounge for as long as you like: indeed, quiosques remain popular day or night. One feature we particularly love is that some quiosques have baskets full of blankets for customers to use if it get chilly. Since the quiosques are open well into the night, this can definitely come in handy. If you want some munchies with your drink, you can also get pasteis de nata, fried snacks like bacalhau fritters, and simple sandwiches. Quiosques are found throughout town, and have become one of the iconic symbols of Portugal, even appearing on postage stamps (at right). Though quiosques dot the entire city, one of the most popular cafes is located in the center of the Praça de Luís de Camões in the Chiado district, where you can really be in the heart of it all.
Some quiosques – called “quiosques de refresco” – even specialize in traditional beverages like the rarer mazagran, an iced coffee mixed with rum. Though quiosques are usually classic in design and menu, there are a few outliers, including the Bananacafe quiosque in Belem that is located in a refurbished yellow tram; and the bright red Soundwich cafe in Cais do Sodre that serves gourmet sandwiches (below) with an eclectic soundtrack. Other updated quiosques are found in the parkway of the main thoroughfare Aveneida Liberdade.
Quiosques are also usually located in Lisbon parks with views called miradouros (literally “golden views”), which adds another wonderful element of relaxation to the quiosque experience. Enjoy your bica (strong Portuguese coffee) with a view. One of our favorite miradouro quiosques is in the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara where you can get a good cappuccino and a cheese, prosciutto and arugula sandwich on French bread along with your view of the city below (see below). Though quiosques have been an integral part of the city forever, they have been experiencing a major revival in the past 5 or so years. We can definitely see why Lisboetas are flocking back to the quiosques. We have found that there is nothing more relaxing than sitting back with a coffee and watching the world go by.
Coffee syrup spotted in the wild (Crate and Barrel)
When I recently visited a Chicagoland Crate and Barrel, I was very surprised to see something that I didn’t think existed outside of Rhode Island: Coffee syrup (see context photo above). Namely, this was Dave’s Coffee Syrup, a local brand we encountered in Providence. Coffee syrup is basically coffee concentrate mixed with sweetener. Much like chocolate syrup, coffee syrup can be added to pretty much anything, but it is most popularly mixed with milk to create…wait for it… Coffee Milk! Yes, this drink is exactly what you think it would be. Coffee Milk, aside from being tasty, is in fact the state drink of Rhode Island, as of 1993. One of the most popular coffee syrup brands is Autocrat, keeping Rhode Islanders in coffee milk for decades, though others like Dave’s are starting to carve out a niche for the artisanal coffee syrup market. Visit quahog.org if you are looking for a definitive history of coffee syrup and milk, including its Italian-American origins.
With the important World Cup match-up between Brazil and Mexico today, it seems appropriate to talk about a topic near and dear to both country’s hearts. Coffee-time is something of a ritual in Brazil, where people have their daily cafezinhos. Coffee in Brazil does not simply mean drip coffee, as we are accustomed to having in the US. Instead, you brew a cafezinho through a cloth filter with boiling water, at least if you are doing it traditionally. A cafezinho in Brazil, no matter where you get it, tends to be sweet and strong and served in absolutely tiny cups (typically plastic). People often drink it at a counter standing up in the morning, as a welcoming gesture for guests, or after meals (sometimes it is free, sometimes it is not…). Flavors of Brazil has a guide on how to Order Coffee in Brazil, you can get a wide variety of permutations, but be prepared – everything comes with sugar! Though the traditional cafezinho reigns supreme, cafes with Italian espresso style coffee and drinks are getting more popular, definitely in São Paulo, which has always had an Italian heritage, and in Rio, too.
(Several locations) 41 W. 58th St. New York City
We wrote several years ago about the iconic Swedish coffee and snack break – the fika – including a mention for the Fika coffee shop in NYC. The post got us really hoping to visit Sweden to enjoy an authentic fika. A few weeks ago, we were excited to visit Fika and experience a tiny bit of Swedish coffee culture right here in the US. NYC’s Fika cafe is just how we would imagine a Swedish coffeehouse to be: tiny and immaculate with only room for about 10 people at tall tables inside (if you are lucky enough to get a seat). Compared to US coffeehouse, Fika had a rather small menu of coffees. The coffee served here is actually roasted in NYC, but in the Swedish style. L ordered a cappuccino and the caffeine-averse M ordered hot chocolate. The coffee was light and flavorful and the hot chocolate was pleasingly rich.
Even better, there is a very nice selection of pastries and chocolate, including a wide variety of truffles and chocolates. In fact, Fika has its own chocolatier and several pastry chefs, giving the shop a constant supply of tempting sweets. We got a Cardamom bun, one of the most popular items, which was a rose-shaped croissant with a heavy helping of one of Sweden’s favored spices (there were also cinnamon and vanilla versions for non-cardamom fans). Of the chocolates, we tried truffles with goat milk, which was surprisingly delicate.
However, the showstopper was the Prinsesstårta, aka Princess cake. On their website, Fika even advertises that they are the “home of the Princess Cake,” which is no small feat. We have written about the painfully complex Prinsesstårta before (to date it is the the only cake we have seen that requires a diagram to explain) but we have never actually tried it until now. The version at Fika had all the requisite layers: sponge cake, whipped cream, jam and green marzipan. It was really enjoyable, and a lot more filling than we expected.
We are so happy to have found Fika, a little taste of Sweden in the US. Incidentally, when we went on a weekday morning, the cafe was full of Swedes! If you are feeling especially nostalgic, you can also bring home boxes of the stores coffee, tea, and Swedish berry preserves for your own little fika at home.
Together with Fika (review coming soon), Oslo Coffeerepresented our foray into Scandinavian coffee culture while in NYC. Oslo Coffee (328 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) is super tiny, consisting of only a few tables, two benches outside and not even a public bathroom (we asked). The menu consists primarily of coffee or tea, and most people get it to go, though it seems like the other locations are a bit bigger and have more seating. However, despite the tiny size, the store is cute and welcoming. There are also some pastries on offer if you are feeling peckish. The coffee is specially roasted by the owners in New York City, but in the Norwegian Style, home of arguably the world’s most exacting coffee culture. There are 3 house coffee blends named after Norse gods: Odin (Espresso), Freya (Dark Roast) and Thor (house blend). We ordered an iced coffee made with Odin, and it was surprisingly smooth and mellow, and perfect for one of the first iced-coffee appropriate days of the year. They don’t take credit cards though, so remember your cash.
So we caught a bit of a coffee bug in Miami. Our favorite place for a classic cortadito is still Versailles, but if you are in the mood for a little something else, Pasión del Cielo (we went to 100 Giralda Ave, Coral Gables, FL, though there are other locations) is a great place to enjoy a latte with a twist. In addition to a variety of iced coffees, frappes and lattes, the key feature that sets Pasión apart is that you get to choose what kind of coffee you get in your drink, and they have 12 varieties to choose from. Pasión has coffees from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Hawaii, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru, each with their own distinct qualities. It is the same price to order any of the coffees, except the rare Jamaican blue mountain, which is $2 more. When I went there, the full-bodied Brazilian coffee seemed to be a particularly popular choice, and given our affinity for Brazil, we were pretty excited. The coffee was great, flavorful and robust, and I liked the ability to customize. Another clever detail is that the coffee drinks all come with drink art. I really wish they had one of these shops in Chicago.
While we consumed macarons and mimolette gleefully in France, we never really sought out French coffee… and I guess we weren’t the only ones. Turns out France has never been big on coffee, cafe culture yes, but the actual coffee, not so much. We greatly enjoyed Roads and Kingdoms’ essay, “Why is Coffee in France La Merde?” which discusses the history of coffee in France, and how there has been recent push for more craft roasters and coffee-centric cafes.
Holybelly, part of the new coffee scene in Paris, by Roads and Kingdoms.
A recent episode of one of our favorite podcasts, Afropop worldwide, talked about Mirembe Kawomera, a coffee collective in Uganda dedicated to interfaith communication and reconciliation between local Muslims, Christians and Jews. Mirembe Kawomera, which means, “Delicious Peace” in the Luganda language, was founded in 2003 by local coffee farmer JJ Keki. In addition to the coffee co-op, those involved in the collective have also recorded an album, “Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music & Interfaith Harmony in Uganda,” which was featured on Afropop and in the Smithsonian Folkways video above. You can buy the Mirembe Kawomera coffee online from Thanksgiving Coffee company.
We are now in Providence, Rhode Island. There seem to be a ton of Rhode Island foods that have somehow not made it past the state’s borders and we are excited to try them, especially the coffee milk (milk with special coffee syrup – see below). There are also some Rhode Island linguistic difference that have perplexed us – including calling a milkshake a “Cabinet.” People from Rhode Island are proud of their culinary heritage, and The New York Times has a piece about the big flavors of this little state.
Coffee Syrup – a key component of a Rhode Island Coffee Milk by spablab
We recently wrote about the vibrant coffee culture in Scandinavia, particularly Norway. Adding credence the near-mythic status of Scandinavian coffee is “Bean Everywhere” a wordless video tribute to Scandinavian coffee by the South African Coffee publication, The Coffee Mag, with the much different Turkish coffee in the mix as well. If you are a coffee lover it is definitely worth a watch.
Though only one half of the ETW team is a coffee lover – we’re both always interested in learning about different coffee cultures around the world. Just when we feel like we are getting a handle on the latest trends and variations – we encounter a totally new drink – in this case: The Flat White. Though it is becoming popular worldwide, we were interested to learn it was invented in New Zealand, a country so far not on our coffee radar. The Flat White is a double-shot coffee drink topped with foamed milk, somewhere between a latte and a cappuccino, but with a smaller size than typically expected of a latte. Still sound a little obtuse? There are several definitions on the Coffee Hunter site. Anyone have a place to order a flat white in Chicago?
Rua Senador Dantas – 45, Cinelândia
Rio de Janeiro (Other Locations Nationwide in Brasil)
Sometimes you just want a nice icy Starbucks-style coffee beverage laden with sugar and syrup – and when you do, in Brazil, the answer is V Cafe! There are tons of these cafes over Brazil (owned by Parent company Viena), and a small branch is even conveniently located in one of our favorite bookstores – Livraria Cultura. Our two go-tos at V Café are the Mocciolata and the Cioccolata drinks (R$ 11 each). The Cioccolata is a very frothy iced hot chocolate, and the Mocciolata is basically the same – but with a shot of espresso. We appreciate the attention to detail in V’s drinks – all of the drinks come in real glassware – not paper cups – and a little cookie on the side – how nice. Of course there are also a wide variety of hot espresso and cappuccino drinks available.
V Cafe Mocciolata (and cookie)
There are wide a range of desserts available – including a rotating variety of cake slices (chocolate brigadeiro, orange and hazelnut are favorites), puddings and cookies. But if you are in the mood for a little something more, there are sandwiches (including salmon and brie/apricot) and even some healthy-looking salads. Seating at V Café in Livraria Cultura is at a premium, and people often bring a stack of books to while away the time while munching. We definitely can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy afternoon.
While wandering throughout historic Ouro Preto you will see stores selling Doces Caseiros, but you will also find them selling the one thing we like even better: chocolates. We visited a couple of chocolate shops while we were in Ouro Preto, and were surprised by the quality of the chocolates and the extensive menus. If you have a sweet tooth, you will never go hungry in Ouro Preto.
Puro Cacau (Rua Conde de Bobadela, 162) stands out on the street due to the large chocolate fountain in the window. That was surely enough to draw us in. A trip to the chocolate fountain (with a skewer of strawberries) cost a mere R$ 5. We were also pleased to find they had milkshakes, which were excellent (we went with cookies and cream). The menu also had a selection of paninis and wraps, which were good, but nothing to write home about.
However, as the name would imply, the main reason to visit Puro Cacau is for the chocolate-related offerings. The entire front of the store is given over to selling jars of doce de leite, homemade bon bons and alfajors (Argentine sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche). You can also buy simple candies and truffles by weight out of glass jars. There was something deliciously retro about filling a paper bag with little chocolate candies. Even beyond chocolates there was an unusually extensive selection of bottled drinks and beers from around the world.
Chocolates Ouro Preto (Praça Tiradentes, 111)
Chocolates Ouro Preto became our go-to lunch and coffee spot when we were in Ouro Preto, not to mention the fact that we had many a sweet treat there. For those of you that are always plugged in (guilty here) there is also free Wifi.
Chocolates Ouro Preto – right on Praca Tiradentes!
In the front of the store you can buy their chocolate items, including a huge amount of chocolate bars and very delicious truffles (R$ 2.50). We particularly enjoyed the passionfruit filled dark chocolate variety. We also appreciated the amazing selection of coffee drinks and other juices for those who are trying to be caffeine-free. There was also a large assortment of ice cream flavors.
For those with a bigger appetite, there were other savory treats, including full entrees soups and breads. We had one particularly delicious soup: creamy mandioquinha. Kind of like cheesy cream of potato soup, but better! There were also various salgados, pão de queijo and pão patate.
Welcome to Eating the World! We’re two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.To contact us for partnerships or just to say hi, email us at eating the world (at) gmail.com
Eating The World · We're two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.