coffee stories, iii.

Coffee beans.
Coffee beans.

There is a story being told in the Congo. There is coffee in the Congo; excellent coffee, coffee with the potential to heal a nation. These two things, on the loop, on my mind. Images of Lake Kivu, the hills, and Congolese coffee farms. My heart bleeds. Second day at World of Coffee Dublin 2016. I wrote an article for Think Prague: 6 coffee shops in Prague. My heart skipped a beat when the legend that is The Coffeetographer featured my article in her own Coffee Stories. I draw inspiration from her and I am grateful for this mention. Thank you. I am back at my corner coffee shop in Žižkov; my barista prepares a warm flat white with a smile. An extra cup for when I am having a bad day. I don’t leave the house without my KeepCup anymore. My mom bought me a handmade džezva complete with intricate details and a small spoon from Sarajevo; I look forward to strong coffee with a pinch of cinnamon. The weather has definitely announced summer in Prague and there’ll be more of iced coffees from now on, too. Lavender or mint, perhaps. Here’s to summer.

summer manifesto

Zmrzlinář. Photo by Kryšpín.
Zmrzlinář. Photo by Kryšpín.

Read books and eat gelato; both in great quantities. Spend evenings at Riegrovy Sady, watching the sunset. Leave my phone at home occasionally, bring the Nikon camera for photos instead. Document life in Prague during summer. Go on paddleboats on the Vltava, at least once. Drink a cold beverage by the river afterward. Spend a weekend in Southern Bohemia at auntie’s house. Go to farmer’s markets in my neighborhood on Saturdays. Borrow a Polaroid camera and take pictures for a weekend. Make and drink plenty of fruit-infused water. Write. Write my way out of this. Buy flowers, at least every other week. Wear shorts and white button downs. Go on trips around the country and out of the country. Give him a chance to get to know me.

a year in breakfasts | prague

Late autumn, October, maybe
One morning, after a night of heavy rain, icy wind and lots of turning around in the bed, I felt weak and demotivated. It was still early on, the early days. I had only moved to Prague and I wasn’t sleeping well. I wasn’t sleeping at all actually. The first month was tough and that particular cold morning there weren’t many things that could fix my state of mind except for two: a cup of strong coffee and a nutritious breakfast. Karlín is a district close to the city center by public transport, yet still a little off the beaten path. In those first months, the streets of Karlín became my favorite to explore when there was nowhere else to go. And it all started with the discovery that gloomy morning. Můj Šálek Kávy is located in the heart of the district and it was exactly what I needed. Homemade granola with yogurt, scrambled eggs, a toast with a grandmother’s strawberry jam; I am always pressed between these choices. Only one thing is certain: a flat white, creamy and strong. The first sip always feels like a hug. At this coffee shop, it’s nothing short of that.

The beginning of winter, cold December
First Love’s little sister visits me in Prague every few weeks and it is a tradition now that we stop for a coffee and a four-course dessert set (her, not me). On one such weekend visit, we’d woken up early, more out of habit than necessity. There isn’t much available on Sunday in Prague, and especially not very early in the morning. IF Café opens at 9 o’clock, and it became the perfect choice. When things fit into each other, and little effort is needed for the day to flow smoothly. That’s how we are, me and her. Walking over from Jířího z Poděbrad through the downward streets to Belgická in Vinohrady where the coffee shop is located, we dissected our lives and laughed hard. We laugh so hard sometimes, there isn’t enough oxygen around us. B is a baker and her passion is desserts, sweets and anything with an insubordinate amount of sugar. So our favorite place isn’t a surprise really; IF Café is first and foremost a bakery and patisserie. Their coffee is not particularly to my liking, but the breakfast! Oh, man. It’s everything one could wish for.

Almost spring, early February
My parents came to Prague for a visit. Some of it was for work, most of it was for me. As far as I am concerned. Which is to say, I’m happy when they stay with me. There is familiarity in our different characters and personalities; in our morning habits and the way we take our coffee. All different from each other yet we are one blood. One thing that we share in common, the one thing I definitely, hundred percent inherited from my parents: the love for breakfast. Wanting to try a new place, we headed to Home Kitchen by the Old Town Square. Then the next day, and two days later, again. That’s how good they are. From the selection of soups, eggs, granolas, and fruit salads, main courses, and deserts; we all found something we loved and wanted to taste again, and again, and again. With four locations in the city (one near my office), Home Kitchen quickly became the go-to place for breakfast any time of the day.

Definitely summer, the first day of June
I knew K. through our websites for years but we first met in Hong Kong five or six years ago; he could have flown anywhere in Asia but he chose the city I lived in at the time. Quite humbled by this, I met him for a coffee by the harbor and showed him around town. Slowly, but surely we became friends. Years later, on my own trip to Prague, we met again. Now that I am living here, he became the person I can call anytime for a coffee or a breakfast. Which has as of late become a regularity more than anything else. On the first day of the first summer month, we had two breakfasts. Coffee room and Café Jen. Two places I cannot recommend enough. Outside street seating is what you should hope for, but these two spots tend to be crowded that you’ll be lucky if you get a seat. But we did. On both counts.