Category Archives: Coffee Tour / Kaffetur

Come along with us and check out a variety of coffee shops in Europe and North America

Kaffetur 3 / Coffee Tour #3: Elbgold Kaffee, Hamburg Germany

The more we look, the more it seems an allusive thing. Finding that perfect combination of ambiance and high-quality coffee. And particularly difficult to track down good handcrafted coffee nestled in a place where you want to sit for more than just a few minutes.

And with that, I introduce our readers to Elbgold Kaffee.
Located in an artsy neighborhood of Hamburg, Germany, they have a great selection of coffee for purchase in-house or take-away. They partner with well-known local shops to offer pastries and other baked goods through the day. And their selection of fair-trade beans, all roasted in-house, is quite extensive. Not quite the perfect combination that we are ultimately on a quest for, Elbgold nevertheless offers great coffee and a fun atmosphere.

Aesthetically pleasing coffee shops that offer excellent coffee are always a plus.

Elbgold incorporates several common elements of the current wave of coffee shops into their location: chalkboards, high ceilings and exposed rafters to create that warehouse vibe, a neutral color palette, and seating crafted from coffee bags. The overall feel is relaxed but not overly cozy, leaning instead more towards trendy, a place to be seen. It is busy, and it can get a bit loud [not necessarily the worst thing when you have the kids in tow].

Ample seating indoors and out provides plenty of opportunity for sitting and enjoying a fine coffee. The traditional tables and chairs were a bit odd to me, but they do offer a number of food options on the menu.

I know, I was shocked as well. Who knew people went to coffee shops for something other than coffee?!?

For many people, the atmosphere makes or breaks a place.

But to us, it really is about the coffee. And Elbgold offers quality coffee. We were definitely pleased with what we ordered. Of course we have only been once and that was last year, so I can only speak to that experience. But with such a massive space and such quality beans, it would sure be nice to see some more time and attention given to handcrafted drinks.

Still, the coffee was really good. And in the summertime, a nice cold brew is always a welcomed treat.


Overall, we enjoyed the coffee at Elbgold.

Daniel enjoyed it as well! He is always
more than happy to finish off the last sips.
A kid who loves black coffee?!?

So much so that we decided to take one more for the road!


You can learn more about Elbgold here (I hope your German is better than mine!).

Kaffetur 2 / Coffee Tour #2: Solberg & Hansen

Those that visit our city typically end up taking home a bag of Sandefjords Blanding (Sandefjord’s blend) coffee, purchased at a shop downtown. And that coffee is actually roasted by a company based in Oslo. That company, Solberg & Hansen, recently opened a concept shop in Mathallen, in one of our favorite areas of Oslo.

How can I describe Mathallen? As I’ve mentioned before, mat is the Norwegian word for food, so the name translates to The Food Hall. Located on the river in an area that was formerly comprised of factories and mills, Mathallen sits on the edge of Grünerløkka, home and play place of all of Oslo’s cool kids.

To call Mathallen a food court seems a bit unfair, because it is so much more than that. In this massive warehouse-style shrine to gourmet delicacies and discriminating palates, you can buy superior cuts of meat and hard-to-find cheeses, grab lunch from one of the varied counter-service shops, or sit down and relax with friends for a drink or a meal. Weekends also include cooking demonstrations and delicious samples.

You can also take a break and enjoy a fine hand-brew at Solberg & Hansen. Their new concept shop offers coffee, tea, retail sales, and even some courses and cupping.

We have always been pleased with their coffee when we’ve bought it here in Sandefjord. So we were anxious to see what they had to offer at Mathallen.

They have a nice variety of beans available for purchase, and the styling and presentation at their pour-over bar is impressive.

The overall feel of the space is nice. The relaxed pace certainly fits the brewing technique, but seems to stand in contrast to the loud environment where it sits.

If you find yourself in the Vulkan or Grünerløkka neighborhoods of Oslo, we highly recommend a stop at Mathallen. And while you’re there, why not take the time to check out Solberg & Hansen as well?

Kaffetur 1 / Coffee Tour #1: Ministerstwo Kawy / Warsaw

While every morning deserves a little coffee to get things started, I think Mondays typically require even more!

So what better day than Monday to share some of the coffee
shops we’ve visited in recent years…

On our first edition of Kaffetur, I’m highlighting Ministerstwo Kawy (the ministry of coffee) in Warsaw, Poland. (Website here)

When we visited Poland we discovered a number of noteworthy coffee shops. This particular cafe offered excellent hand brews, and delicious baked goods as well.

William has promised to build one of these for us!

The decor was simple and modern, with a bit of a Scandinavian feel to it.

Both of the ladies working behind the counter at Ministerstwo seemed to be quite knowledgeable about coffee – and spoke excellent English as well.

Did I mention that they sell amazing sweets? Zack and I enjoyed sharing a slice of this unusual yet delicious cake.

We ordered a Chemex with a very freshly-roasted African coffee.

The coffee was delicious – some of the best we had on this particular trip.

The location is close to a large roundabout, and a short walk to a Metro station. We highly recommend Ministerstwo in Warsaw!


Kaffetur / Coffee Tour: a new series

I’m working on a new series, highlighting one of our favorite things: coffee.Okay, actually two of our favorite things: coffee and cool coffee shops/cafés.

I’ll highlight some great – and maybe even a few not-as-great – spots that we’ve visited in various countries over the past few years.

And since he is even more into coffee than I am, hopefully I can get Zack to share a bit from time to time as well.

Stay tuned – coming soon!










Coffee Culture: Stockholm

We returned from Stockholm on Saturday, after several days spent enjoying the city. The weather was cooler than it has been here, but we were just glad we didn’t have to deal with rain until we started driving home.
As is standard for any trip for Zack and me, we had to check out a few coffee shops around town. Have you ever heard the Swedish word fika? It’s brilliant – it’s basically a coffee break, and often includes something sweet as well. It can be used as a noun, a verb, and more – Wikipedia says fika is a Swedish social institution. I love it!
We were staying on Södermalm (thanks to friends who offered their apartment while they were out of town!), an island district in central Stockholm. Södermalm is a trendy bohemian-type community – much cooler than we are – and a great place for people watching, shopping, and finding an excellent cup of coffee.
We got recommendations from friends in the area on what they had either heard or personally considered to be the best shops. A few Google searches confirmed what they shared, letting us know we needed to make a trip to two places in particular, both on Södermalm.

Up first was Drop Coffee. Simplistic and unassuming, I would likely have overlooked it had it not been for the tip. Aside from the fact that there are a number of places to sit in the cafe, it really reminded me of Tim Wendelboe in Oslo (good luck finding a seat at Tim’s!). I ordered an Ethiopian roast, while Zack went with the barista’s suggestion and tried the Kenyan. Both were great – a very light-colored beverage, akin to Wendelboe coffee’s tea-like appearance. But we agreed that the Kenyan was definitely best.

Unfortunately, only one photo from Drop Coffee – the boys were with us 🙂
Next up was Johan & Nyström Konceptbutik. This time, we had a bit of time to ourselves (the boys were with friends), so we were able to relax a bit more. J&N definitely has more to offer in the way of atmosphere. At first glance it doesn’t look very large. But once inside, you’ll find additional seating just past the register, as well as in the upstairs loft area. The baristas were knowledgeable and friendly, and as is the norm for us, we ordered two different roasts, both prepared as a pour-over. This time around, I went with Picknick, and Zack tried the coffee from Nicaragua. And once again, Zack won. Both were nice, but the Nicaraguan was far superior.
We tried a couple of other places as well, including Espresso Bar which has locations throughout the city. Zack said it was the best espresso he’s ever had.
All in all, we were very impressed with the coffee options in Stockholm. While the winner for ambiance goes to J&N, the coffee is what  really matters. And though it was a narrow margin, we both liked Drop the best.

Confessions of a Coffee Addict

We love coffee. We enjoy trying different roasts and checking out different ways of preparing. Zack loves all the gadgets and experimenting with various brewing methods.

A cute wall quote we picked up
at a local shop this week
(‘Life is too short for bad coffee’)

We live in what I consider a coffee culture. Coffee is good here. Like, really good. It’s strong. Flavorful. And in abundance. Coffee and conversation: it’s a big part of our lives here. Coffee is something we like to enjoy together, and something we share with others often.

So when our anniversary was approaching, we decided we’d really like to buy a new coffee machine (aka coffee maker, kaffetrakter) as our gift to each other. For the past 14 months we’ve been using the one that was left in our apartment. It was probably the cheapest model on the market and most of the time the coffee tasted scorched. We often use our french press, espresso pot, pour over, or aeropress when we have extra time and just want a cup or two. But we really like to have a machine for the mornings, so we can make a full pot.

We started doing some research and discovered MoccaMaster. They are handmade in the Netherlands and are reported to be the best. However, while they are super nice, the price wasn’t exactly in our budget. But thanks to an unexpected gift card from our power company, we were able to get the machine we really wanted for a REALLY good price!

I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference, but this machine rocks. A complete brew in six minutes, two heat settings for the burner so the coffee in the pot doesn’t get too hot, and the water is kept at optimal temperature throughout the brewing process. I love our new toy, and look forward to many happy years with it!

Paris: Coffee

We’ll start with something Zack and I always love to try in new places. That ever important drink: coffee.

We both enjoy good coffee. I wouldn’t call us coffee snobs. But we are a bit particular and have our opinions! We prefer a quality cup of black coffee, not altered by sugar, cream or anything else.
So what is the verdict on our French coffee experience? I’ll put it this way: more often than not, we ordered a cafe au lait or latte. It wasn’t the strength that bothered us, because we like STRONG coffee. We just weren’t overly impressed with any of it.
I think our favorite cup came from Paul on Champs Elysees. Paul is a chain of shops that is supposedly a favorite of the locals. We liked their cafe au lait, and their pastries were delicious! The boys really liked the pastry filled with chocolate and cream.