This may come as a surprise, but Antwerp is the place to be for the best coffee. From all over the world, ships bring huge cargos of green coffee beans here. Learn a bit of history and find out where to go for a great coffee in a cosy bar.
The port of Antwerp has been a major hub for coffee for several centuries. The city is also second to none when it comes to coffee storage and warehousing. From the most exotic and rare coffee types, roasters and dealers choose their own blends. At one time, every neighbourhood had its own coffee roasting house. You can also still have your own blend roasted at Jespers at Oever 16. Of course you can also get a barista to do the work for you.
Tips from a connoisseur
Cordon Coffee is a small, independent coffee roaster. Host Koen shares his tips below. Why not pop into one of these coffee bars on your next visit to Antwerp.
1. Kolonel Koffie
Kolonel Koffie is within walking distance of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, on the corner of Troonplaats. “This really is the place to go if you’re looking for a great atmosphere”, says Koen. Their coffees are prepared with beans roasted in their own coffee roastery.
“Caffènation played a pioneering role in the Antwerp coffee scene”, says Koen. “They launched a new way of drinking coffee and have really upped the ante. They take coffee very seriously, whether roasting or serving it, and you can really taste the difference.” This popular coffee bar is just a stone’s throw from Theaterplein and Mechelseplein.
Tip: Check out the amazing array of coffee gadgets at Caffènation.
Normo followed in the footsteps of Caffènation. Here coffee is served in its purest form, black, as an espresso or a drip brew. Not the place to go if you have a sweet tooth. “Normo is simply the best, along with Caffénation if you’re looking for specialty coffee.
Tip: Visit the nearby Saint Charles Borromeo’s church in magnificent Conscienceplein.
Just a short walk from Normo you will find Cuperus, the oldest coffee and tea bar in Antwerp. Cuperus has been supplying a nice cup of coffee to Antwerpers for over 190 years. “This former family business survived two World Wars. In recent years, they rejuvenated and reinvented themselves. They are keeping up with the current trends”, says Koen.
Tip: Cuperus is near Antwerp’s main shopping street making it the perfect place to revive yourself in between shops.
Mokkakapot is just outside the city centre but according to Koen, it is definitely worth a visit. This colourful bar is on a corner of Moorkensplein. The owner is an artist as you can see when you walk in. Definitely an alternative look and feel. “The atmosphere in this colourful coffee bar is just great. Everything is just right”, says Koen.
6. Me & My Monkey
You will find Me & My Monkey opposite Antwerp’s largest comic strip wall. This cosy coffee bar slash vinyl record store is owned by a father and son. “If you’re going to pop in to Me & My Monkey for coffee, then visit Jespers next door. There are bags full of coffee beans in the shop window of this traditional family-owned supermarket and an old American Gothot coffee roaster, which they no longer produce”, says Koen.
Tip: Visit this coffee bar on Sunday, when the antiques stores in Kloosterstraat and Hoogstraat are open.
7. Snackbar koffie
Snackbar koffie is a great mix of different nationalities: an Italian espresso maker, a Belgian brand and a Hungarian barista. “This is a tiny coffee bar, but I really like coming here”, says Koen. “They source their coffee from Caffènation and they also adhere to their principles. They mainly serve black coffee.”
Tip: Snackbar Koffie is just a three-minute walk from one of Antwerp’s must-sees: the Rubens House.
“Barnini is the place to be for people who don’t drink their coffee black”, says Koen. Maltesers, marshmallows and Smarties… your coffee is so colourful that just looking at it will make you smile! Add a tasty bagel and find a seat on the sunny terrace which gives out onto Theaterplein and you will immediately see why it’s always packed.
Tip: Visit Barnini on the weekend when the market is up and running, and find the stall of Koffie Verheyen. Take home a bag of tasty ‘Amberes’ coffee, the perfect souvenir after a day trip to Antwerp.
9. Caffe Mundi
Caffe Mundi is just a stone’s throw from Grote Markt. They roast their own coffee, train their staff and have a diverse range of products. Every day you can choose from at least six different types of coffee beans at Caffe Mundi.