Scattered across the Belgian city, Antwerp’s independent cafés each have their own distinct identity. Many are nestled within new buildings, while others have a life of their own, animating the neighbourhood around them. We take a look at ten of the best and coolest coffee spots in the city.
Courtesy of Café Storm
Cafe, Pub Grub, $$$
café STORM, Antwerpen | Courtesy of Caffénation
On the docks of Antwerp’s harbour on the river Scheldt is the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) and on the its ground level is Café Storm, with a terrace and a view across the river and offering fast, healthy snacks and delicious drinks. The café is the perfect spot after climbing through the MAS to the rooftop for a panoramic view of Antwerp, as well as a bird’s eye view of Belgian artist Luc Tuymans’ 1,600-m² mosaic, ‘Dead Skull’, below on the museum square.
Caffénation has been the place to get your daily fix in the city since it opened its doors in 2003. Here you can enjoy your brew while reading a book from the well-stocked shelf or resting on comfy sofas, chatting with friends. The multi-level café has a relaxing atmosphere, where you can while away the hours and even get refills of your coffee and are never rushed out by staff trying to make space for the next customer. In addition to Caffénation’s speciality coffees, tea and delicious homemade tarts are also on the menu.
Re-opening its doors in 2014 after an eight-year hiatus, Cartoon’s Cinema and Café is located at the heart of Antwerp’s bustling city centre. The cinema plays a big role in the promotion of alternative and European film, screening anything but American blockbusters. A stairway below the cosy theatre is the cinema’s café, where you can enjoy a drink or order one to take in with you into the theatre. The café has a laid-back atmosphere and sometimes hosts small live concerts. Luckily, the soundproofing is excellent and music from the underground café doesn’t affect screenings in the theatre.
Grand Café deSingel is a chic café operating as part of Antwerp’s leading international arts centre deSingel, which hosts theatre, dance, music and architecture in addition to the music conservatory. Housed in a glass box, designed by Belgian architect Stéphane Beel, Grand Café deSingel overlooks a panorama of the highway and railway, connecting it with the urban landscape. The café can be accessed through the deSingel campus should you be attending or rehearsing for a performance, or from the street via a long ascending bridge.
Het Geluk is the theatre café of Het Paleis, a theatre for the young and the young at heart. Described as a child-friendly café, Het Geluk is the place to enjoy a hot chocolate and tasty sandwich with your family before seeing one of the performances or just a great local spot to enjoy a light brunch or lunch. The café is nestled under the giant roof of the theatre square, where a weekend food market takes place providing ample opportunity for people-watching and offering the tastiest exotic fruit and vegetables.
Kornél café is not only a coffee bar but a co-working space. Populated by neighbourhood artists and philosophy professors, the café offers a meeting point for people to exchange ideas, build relationships and for the freelancer to get out of the house and work in a studio-like space. The café is lively with many activities, hosting regular art exhibitions, tastings, documentary screenings, lectures and book club meetings. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate are all on the menu, as well as vegetarian breakfasts.
Located in Antwerp’s trendy Zuid area, Wasbar is a café that gives people the chance to do their laundry in style. Mixing the concept of a café with a Laundromat, you can enjoy a drink and a chat here while waiting for your washing to rinse and spin. This is the second such cafe: the creators of Wasbar opened the café in Antwerp shortly after their success in Ghent. Washing machines and dryers are all named after men and women, with signs that will tell you that: ‘Jacob is doing the drying this time.’
Coffee Shop, Cafe, Coffee, Vegetarian, Vegan, Tea , Fast Food, Street Food, Belgian, $$$
Caffe Mundi, Antwerpen | 1960801
Caffe Mundi takes pride in overseeing the complete coffee making process. From choosing the best beans from Brazil to roasting and grinding them in store, they ensure only the finest quality brews are served to their loyal and ever-growing customer base. The interior is intimate and convivial, with a light wooden bar and monochrome stools and fixtures. With delicious homemade cakes and a selection of hot soup and large, fresh sandwiches, Caffe Mundi is the perfect place to take a moment to regroup and mull over the day.
Kiebooms takes you back to dancehall days where live music played and people bopped through the night. Stepping into Kiebooms café is like taking a step back in time to the 1950s. The café’s interior has an authentic vintage feel and is reminiscent of period movies. Kiebooms has a social function on top of being a fun place to spend time as it gives an open podium for KunstenNoord art organisation, dance workshops by Carte Blanche and young artists. Live music champions local jazz acts and also features a lively, rousing programme of folk music.
Kubus is a perfect venue for reading and eating, being part of Antwerp’s main city library Permeke. After taking out a stack of good reads, you can crack them open over a hot or cold beverage at Kubus. The café and library are situated in a bustling part of town, behind Chinese supermarkets and restaurants, and it offers a much-needed resting point among the bustle of city life. Kubus also has a computer room on the first floor and wireless internet connection throughout the café.