A canal in Amsterdam, where the coffee scene is being reinventing (Photo: Thinkstock)
In Amsterdam, it used to be that any mention of coffeehouses meant you were looking for herbal refreshments of the recreational kind. The Dutch capital built a tourism reputation around a liberal mentality that permitted locals and foreigners alike to indulge in a little marijuana, medicinal or otherwise.
But in the last couple of years, clever coffee makers have popped up all over town, reclaiming cafés and coffeehouses for caffeine junkies. Now, asking for a café may result in a recommendation for a beloved roaster or a hip spot frequented by in-the-know locals. And you’ll do well to follow, as Amsterdam has become home to some of the most innovative baristas in Europe. You’ll find guys and gals roasting their own beans, using cutting-edge technology, and refining coffee flavors to please the keenest of palettes.
Below are six cafés offering the most delicious cups of Joe in Amsterdam. They will make you forget that a coffeehouse could have been meant for anything else.
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Hutspot Rozengracht, which sells coffee, home goods, and fashion (Photo: Hutspot)
This is the Jordaan District satellite of a beautifully curated boutique-café that started as a pop-up shop and sells everything from lamps to sunglasses to shoes, even bikes. Join locals at the buzzing communal tables. The coffee comes from local roasters Bocca — our favorite is the Bocca Gusto Blend, a potent and slightly bitter coffee that provides the base for all of Hutspot’s espresso beverages.
Amsterdam’s Headfirst Coffee Roasters (Photo: Alper Çuğun/Flickr)
Headfirst Coffee Roasters
Founders Jonatan Scheeper and Lex Wenneker opened their Jordaan café and roaster this April. This barebones coffee mecca always smells fantastic, thanks to the Giesen machine in the back, where fair-trade beans from all over the world are roasted daily. Single-origin espresso is the specialty, but try the house speciality: the pourover, which is perfectly light and pairs nicely with the home-baked scones.
Bakers & Roasters, a Kiwi import (Photo: Bakers & Roasters)
Bakers & Roasters
Opened last year by coffee enthusiasts from New Zealand, this café in the funky De Pijp neighborhood is ideal for travelers well-versed in Kiwi and Aussie caffeine lingo. Ask for a flat white, a drink made popular Down Under back in the ’80s with a double shot of espresso. free-poured milk, and topped with a thin layer of foam. In this recipe, the beans have a global pedigree: sourced from a London roaster of the New Zealand-based Ozone Coffee.
Enjoying a brew outside Lot Sixty One (Photo: Lot Sixty One)
Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters
Like Headfirst, this subway-tiled and checkered-floor cafe in Oud West roasts its own beans, allowing its coffee makers to control the quality and flavor of every cup. Look for single-origin brews (from Brazil, Ethiopia) made with the wildly popular Chemex pourover or a Kyoto cold-drip.
The window display at Six and Sons (Photo: Six and Sons)
Six and Sons
Owner Alexander Six’s concept store on Haarlemerdijk welcomed its first guests back in 2012 and introduced a second-floor café in December 2013. Hang out in the comfy, antique-looking wooden chairs and tables while sipping on a steaming cup of coffee via an AeroPress, which adds more bite to your straightforward filtered brew. After you’re done, you can browse the eclectic mix of merchandise: framed feathers, vintage desk lamps, pop-up tents, and locally made notebooks.
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The offerings at Screaming Beans (Photo: Screaming Beans)
This Nine Streets stalwart has been a trendy coffee spot since it opened in 2010. Screaming Beans has custom roasts by Bocca, including a blend featuring three different beans from Ethiopia, Brazil, and Costa Rica. Here, it’s all about slow-filtered coffee using forward-thinking techniques like vacuum methods and siphon, but you can also opt for an old-fashioned espresso.
Chadner Navarro’s writing about travel and fashion has appeared in both print and Web publications, including DuJour, Ralph Lauren magazine, NY Post, Ultratravel US, and NUVO.