A discount airline with a big sale to a country we’d never visited, taking with us nothing but a backpack and very few expectations.
Sometimes that’s the best way to approach travel, and maybe other things in life as well. Minimal plans and minimal expectations often result in maximum surprise.
And last week’s quick visit to Vilnius (Lithuania) definitely surprised us, in a very, very good way.
In addition to a great AirBnB apartment, a beautiful city, and delicious & affordable food, we also stumbled onto a few unexpected and interesting cafes.
The first of our specialty coffee shop visits was Coffee Inn Roasters. This one is what I would label as a Happy Accident.
We had visited a couple of other Coffee Inn locations – they can be found in abundance throughout the city. But we had no idea they actually roasted their own coffee.
We just happened to see the sign on the building as we were wandering back from exploring an older part of town. And when we walked in and saw an entire section of the menu labeled Brew Bar, we were both surprised and excited!
From the very beginning, our barista was friendly and helpful. Akvile greeted us with a smile, and was patient and informative as we tried to make our selection. I knew the brew bar was calling my name, but with four different beans and four different brew methods, it took a few minutes to decide.
In the end, we landed on Brazil Santa Barbara, prepared via Chemex.
We chose a table close to the brew bar – I always love watching baristas in action! And Akvile soon brought our orders over.
With the first sip, I knew we’d made a good choice. The coffee had a complexity and fruitiness to it, and was really enjoyable. We sipped and relaxed, enjoying a few minutes off of our feet after a lot of exploring around the city.
After savoring the coffee, Akvile and I chatted a bit. She shared that the location opened just six months ago. She gave me a tour, showing me their Toper digital roaster, as well as their barista training room.
The training room was impressive, equipped with tables for courses, as well as a fully functioning cafe counter identical to the one in the main part of the coffee shop. As we entered, I met Goda, the young lady who not only trains all of Coffee Inn’s baristas, but is also a certified SCAE roaster. She and the Coffee Inn Roasters team provide freshly roasted beans to Coffee Inn’s 50 cafes, located in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and USA (Tampa, Florida).
Akvile and I chatted about coffee and it was clear that she knows her stuff! She has been working with coffee for about 3 1/2 years now, and has been at Coffee Inn Roasters since it opened its doors at the beginning of 2016. When I asked her about her favorite beans, she found it difficult to decide. A year ago, she would have picked something from Africa, but currently she finds herself preferring Colombian and Panamanian roasts. (I can relate, as my preferences change from season to season.)
Akvile and the others from the Coffee Inn Roasters team just returned this week from World of Coffee in Dublin. While there, she enjoyed further experiencing a variety of tastes and techniques from roasters all over the world. As we went back and forth discussing coffee preferences, the young barista astutely shared, “coffee needs to be explored and adored to reach the best taste, balance and complexity.” Well said!
Coffee Inn Roasters was a breath of fresh air in a city overflowing with take-out style coffee chains. Don’t get me wrong: Lithuania’s chains offer really good coffee, better than many chains I’ve visited. But to find a place that roasts in-house, takes the time to offer hand-brewed coffees, and has a team of baristas bursting with personality and coffee knowledge… it was both physically and metaphorically refreshing!
If you live in Vilnius, or if you have the opportunity to visit (and you should – what a fantastic city), be sure to stop by Coffee Inn Roasters. And when you do, tell Akvile that the team from Notes from Norge says hi!