greetings from berlin

Berlin. I mean, seriously, Berlin!

I had no idea what I was getting into the first time I came up. It’s not just the counter-culture, the punk, and all the people mixed together. The Turkish quarters with portions of hummus so huge that they are hard to devour in two, the bite-sized baklavas, and the impeccably prepared coffee; the coffee that smells like home and maybe even feels like it. My Israeli restaurant, Sababa, in Mitte district. Then a whole afternoon reserved just for Ethiopian food. My devotion to it knows no limits and I’ve been away for too long.

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From Berlin with love.

The bike rides from east to west, and not realizing when you’ve crossed the line. And by the way, biking around Berlin is the best way to experience the city. East Side Gallery; what it represents now. My friend and I biked through the entire wall and I kept thinking of him. He’d been there before and — I am pressed hard to admit this — based on his loose recommendations of what I might like, I was kind of retracing his steps. Berlin feels a little bit like stepping back in time; seeing all the memorials and the marks of the past. Like walking through a cloud or a ghost, if such a thing existed.

I came with no expectations, walked away with so much. But you do have to know the history in order to understand the city, at least some of it. Without being able to connect the dots, I am not sure my passion would be the same. Berlin captures me with its rawness and history. The past and the present mixed together, I felt as if I could relate to the city on some strange introverted level.

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Kreuzberg.
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A simple question. Or something.

Berlin.

Photo booths and Club Mate. David Bowie paraphernalia in places you wouldn’t expect them. Parks, plenty of parks. Summer in the city. Memorials and museums. Spectacular coffee and food places. Streets of diverse, incredible people. PhD. students who look like they are homeless; then they open their mouth and you find out they speak eight languages. Jazz, new-age pop, reggae, and classical music; everything goes. You don’t even think about it. Oh, and Kreuzberg, the colorful neighborhood that I fell in love with. I’d definitely take a flat around there but settled for a flat white. Even in Berlin (especially in Berlin!), I followed the coffee.

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The Barn.
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Five Elephant.

The Barn, naturally. It’s my number one. They are pros and they are gorgeous. Roasters disappointed the first time and then they disappointed the second time. The coffee was scorching hot and couldn’t be even touched for ten minutes. Also: not strong enough for my Southern European tastes. But that’s just me. Bitte! Coffeehouse was a love at first sight. A little Greek shop tucked away unassumingly on a street. Apart from an excellent flat white, I walked away with a lovely homemade lavender soap. And saving the best for last: Five Elephant is a must, without a doubt.

In Berlin, you listen to the beat of your heart and let it lead you.

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.

coffee stories, ii.

Coffee in Rome
Coffee in Rome. By Kristina Gill.

Patti Smith and coffee. If you haven’t read the M Train, you must. Marcus Anderson’s jazzy album And Coffee is an excellent choice for your mid-afternoon coffee break. Kurt Cobain drank cappuccinos. I’d never seen that photo of him before and it is my favorite now. Two summer coffee recipes: mint mojito pour over and lavender iced coffee. You’ve probably never heard of coffee cheese. Now you can try it at The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen. If you find yourself in Copenhagen, have a coffee at the Coffee Lab as well. There’ll be more on coffee in Scandinavian countries from me soon.