MUNICH, Nov 29 — “There is no specialty coffee in Munich.”
This was our initial impression about the Bavarian capital. Being close to Italy, it’s natural that coffee drinkers here would lean towards their neighbour’s robust espressos rather than lighter brews. Also, let’s not forget that Munich is a beer paradise, where Biergartens and Bierstubes (beer gardens and taverns) serve some of the best beers in the world.
Indeed, most avid coffee lovers would tell you to head north to Berlin for a more vibrant Third Wave Coffee scene. However, we discover that there is an underground coffee culture in Munich, if we know where to look.
Café #1: Mahlefitz
A specialty coffee bar within walking distance of the city centre, Mahlefitz has a simple décor to go with its spacious layout. There is plenty of light and the hum of the roaster which you can spy through the large windows. Even before our first sip, we know there’s something good brewing here from the aromas alone.
Besides knowledgeable baristas, Mahlefitz stands out for their coffee degustation menus. The Varietäten (German for “varieties”) menu offers two types of filter coffee such as a floral Ethiopia Kochere and a sugarcane-like Kenya Kiwanmururu.
To experience the difference between washed and natural processing, there’s the Aufbereitungsart (“processing”) menu. The Zubereitung (“preparation”) menu offers the same single origin bean roasted differently for espresso and filter coffee. Finally for those who can’t decide between black or white, go for the Milch (“milk”) menu — you get to try an espresso and an espresso plus milk beverage such as a cappuccino.
Café #2: KiezKantine
KiezKantine is a sweet little café is run by the husband and wife team of Klaus and Lena Hierer. The cheerful décor is especially welcoming when coming in from the cold outside. Their adorable pet pug Banana will bring a smile to your face too.
Klaus mans the front of house and he’s the barista behind the bar. The burly Bavarian is a self-professed coffee geek, so you can easily spend hours discussing different brewing methods, single origin beans and all things coffee with him.
The brunch-style food by Lena is straightforward and scrumptious — from sandwiches to soups, all made to order from the freshest ingredients. Don’t miss her pancakes with seasonal fruit such as strawberries: simple and simply delicious.
Café #3: Bald Neu
Don’t be shocked to discover George Clooney staring at you as you enter Bald Neu. The one-time Batman star (the one with the rubber nipples) may be an ambassador for Nespresso machines these days but there’s no sign of those multi-coloured capsules here.
Instead Bald Neu is one of the earliest coffee bars in Munich to serve specialty brews. Opened in 2012 by Maksim Dubilej, Bald Neu has a rough-and-tumble look about it. The décor seems haphazard and unfinished but this sort of lo-fi ambience does attract hipsters in droves.
It doesn’t really matter because the coffee here is spectacular. From the cappuccinos to the pour-over brews, every cup arrives at your table after much care in its creation even though the serious baristas maintain an air of nonchalance. (Given they are Germans, nonchalance likely means focused craft...)
Café #4: White Rabbit’s Room
Franziskanerstrasse looks like any other street in Munich’s Haidhausen neighbourhood but you’re not likely to walk past without pausing to look through the windows of White Rabbit’s Room. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the café has a whimsical, dream world décor filled with characters from the children’s classic.
Where else can you gulp down an espresso as the nervous, always-hurrying White Rabbit looks at his waistcoat watch? Or sip on some rich Heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate) as the Queen of Hearts threatens to scream “Off with their heads!”? Cool down with some cranberry juice as you ponder the nonsense rhymes of the Jabberwocky.
With exposed light bulbs, white-stained tables and rainbow-hued tableware, White Rabbit’s Room is easily the most colourful café in town. Though they don’t sell bags of coffee beans to go (unlike the other specialty coffee shops), White Rabbit’s Room makes up for it with a small store that sells all manner of Alice in Wonderland accessories and paraphernalia.
Café #5: Supremo
Bavarian coffee roaster Supremo’s Kaffeerösterei (German for coffee roastery) is located in the suburban Unterhaching, about half an hour away from Munich via the S3 S-Bahn. It’s a bit of a walk but you’d be rewarded with an opportunity to visit a full-blown coffee roasting operation in the guise of a neighbourhood café.
Outside, Supremo Kaffeerösterei’s looks like any other nondescript white building. Inside is a different story: There is a store with bags of roasted beans and shelves of brewing equipment. Within the roastery, roasting specialists work magic with direct trade microlot coffees, single origin beans and Cup Of Excellence (COE) selections.
Besides the usual espresso beverages, Supremo Kaffeerösterei also has a filter coffee menu. Four methods are offered: French press, Aeropress, V60 filter, and the Karlsbader Kanne (a traditional, German-made porcelain coffee maker). Also known as the Bayreuth Pour Over Brewer, the Karlsbader Kanne is one brewing equipment you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. The resultant brew is light yet complex.
Who would have guessed the Bavarian capital would have such an exciting coffee scene? Die Kaffeekultur is well and alive in Munich.
Mahlefitz Münchner Präzisionskaffee
Nymphenburger Straße 51, Munich, Germany
Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm;
Sat 9am-5pm; Sun closed
Open Mon-Sat 8am-4pm; Sun closed
Sommerstraße 33, 81543 Munich, Germany
Open Tue-Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 12pm-6pm; Mon closed
White Rabbit’s Room
Franziskanerstr. 19, 81669 Munich, Germany
Open Mon-Fri 7:30am-7pm; Sat-Sun 9:30am-5pm
82008 Unterhaching, Germany
Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm;