Tilted dutch townhouses line the canal system which surrounds the centre of Amsterdam. This quaint, picturesque European city is home to over 800,000 people, making Amsterdam the most populous municipality of the Netherlands. After just a few hours, I soon realised there is so much more to this cultural capital then the famed ‘Red Light District’ or the streams of cyclists that roam (and rule) the transport network.
Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city that’s maintained it’s quintessential quirks that are often lost amongst years of tourism and globalisation. Yes, Amsterdam is a charming historic centre from which a vibrant nightlife flows. While the majority of Europe is on the back-foot when it comes to third-wave coffee, the likes of Amsterdam and Berlin continue to go from strength to strength. With the World Barista Championships set at the RAI conference centre this year, it was the ideal opportunity to visit Amsterdam and seek out its best coffee shops.
While in Amsterdam I had the opportunity to stay at Zoku, a global living space for freelancers and digital nomads alike. As I have mentioned before, when I travel I seek apartment style living over a hotel to maintain a healthy lifestyle, productive work ethic and to gain a greater feel for what it’s like to live in the city. What I wasn’t expecting was to find something like Zoku.
Japanese for ‘family’ or ‘tribe’, ‘Zoku’ exemplifies what I am looking for when I travel: a buzzing co-working space, a team of staff who could be mistaken for a close-nit family and a room equipped with all the amenities you could require.
An area serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the rooftop is where Zoku comes to life. As if transported into another world, above the city you walk through a dense foliage-filled greenhouse and into the community space, where check-in begins on an iPad. Elegant and comfortable pods alternate with stylish sofas surrounding the bar and coffee area where complimentary Swedish fikas are served amongst other treats throughout the day. In the few hours I had available to take advantage of this workspace, I met designers and creatives from around the world, shared ideas and was fortunate enough to hear their stories. I was inspired not only by the people I met but by the sense of community this space has successfully created, reserved not only for Zoku residents but monthly members too.
Facilitating global living and working for the traveling professional, Zoku, is a home-office hybrid, also suitable for long stays, with the services of a hotel and the social buzz of a thriving neighbourhood. Zoku is a relaxed place to live, work and socialize with like-minded people while getting wired into the city. – Zoku
In the short time I had to explore Amsterdam, I successfully made my way around some of the best cafés in the city. There are many I wasn’t able to visit but here are a few of my favourites:
Top 5 Cafés in Amsterdam
Address: Kerkstraat 96HS, 1017 GP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8AM–6PM
Sat – Sun: 9AM–6PM
Food? Bakery items only
Perhaps best known as a quality roaster, 2015 saw the launch of Bocca’s own café in the heart of Amsterdam. This was an exciting time for local coffee lovers, who had enjoyed Bocca at various cafés around the city (including Coffee and Coconuts) but had never experienced Bocca’s own space. The café and showroom has gone from strength to strength and is now one of Amsterdam’s most popular spots, boasting some delicious coffees and cakes in a relaxed but sophisticated environment. Visit Bocca for guaranteed quality; these guys really know their coffee!
Address: Camperstraat 48-50, 1091 AH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Mon – Tues: 9AM – 11pm
You’d be forgiven for thinking 4850 was just another wine bar in the city that happened to sell coffee upon request. Delve a little more into this Scandinavian-esk industrial space and you’ll soon realise that is far from the truth. With stylish, modern interiors, 4850 feels somewhat more formal than the other cafés I visited, perhaps due to the enormous display of wine that lines an entire wall-face, or the clientele which it attracts.
Quality coffee is accompanied by a small menu of delicate food tasting as good, if not better than it looks. While perhaps the least delicate item on the menu, I opted for the french toast and have no regrets. Despite my reservations (it’s a wine bar!) I was served an absolutely incredible, smooth v60 and 4850 very quickly became my ‘spot to beat’ for the rest of my stay.
Address: Ceintuurbaan 282-284, 1072 GK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Mon – Sun: 8AM–11PM
Roast? No. Coffee from White Label
Coffee and coconuts couldn’t be a greater contrast to 4850 which is the epitome of sophistication. Three floors of casual dining are filled with sofas and long wooden communal benches; it doesn’t get much more casual. I didn’t taste any fresh coconut juice but opted instead for the coconut milk flat white which was pretty good, albeit not the best coffee I had during my stay.
I did however, really enjoy the broad brunch menu, serving anything from pancakes to chicken broth. Visit on a weekend and despite the vast amount of seats, you might have to wait for a table at this incredibly popular café. Coffee and Coconuts is a vibrant space with a great atmosphere, a brunch spot that’s definitely worth visiting.
Address: Bilderdijkstraat 46, 1052 NB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Mon: Closed
Tues – Sun: 8AM–5PM
Roast? No. Coffee from local roasters
Monks was the first café I visited upon arriving in Amsterdam and left me with very high expectations for the rest of the city. Greeted by Irish charm from owner Patrick Abbott, inspiration from the Melbourne Coffee scene is clear throughout both the bright, industrial interiors as well as the flavoursome, classic brunch menu. Warm, freshly baked croissants were laid out as we arrived, the aroma still at the forefront of my mind. Monks has been able to combine great service, food and coffee to create a very special coffee bar.
Address: Sarphatipark 34, 1072 PB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8am-6pm
Sat – Sun: 9AM–6PM
Roast? No. Primarily Scandinavian roasters.
In true Scandinavian style, this coffee shop boasts a small, minimalist space that is very much coffee centred. It was a pleasure to sit and listen to the super knowledgable and informative baristas talk through each bean they had on the menu, including a geisha priced around €7 per serving. While I didn’t taste the geisha, I had a fantastic pour-over perched up at the bar. It was refreshing to hear each member of staff talking so passionately about their craft; this is a café for coffee lovers not just coffee drinkers and with a rotating breakfast and lunch menu, it would definitely be worth stopping by to try their food too.
Amsterdam was a pleasant surprise. Around each narrow lane, just a twist or turn on the cobbles can lead you into a unique shop, whether it’s a ‘coffee and record’ café like Black Gold, or an emerging new clothing store. Staying at Zoku opened my eyes to the creative culture that’s branching out the Netherlands and gave me an opportunity to be inspired by the city with a perspective I would never have had otherwise. I totally recommend checking out Zoku when looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam.