Latte art at Kolonel Koffie | Courtesy of Kolonel Koffie
Belgium, a nation of caffeine lovers firmly beating the States in average coffee consumption, has an undisputed coffee capital, Antwerp. The port city with the largest coffee storage in the world houses countless coffee bars, each with its own opinion as to how the black gold is served best. Let this list of 10 noteworthy venues serve as a guide in your Antwerp search for the ultimate cup of coffee.
Bar, Coffee, Belgian, Vegetarian, $$$
As the latest offspring of Barnini (a cozy lunch place close to the City Theater), Kaffeenini ups the ante by opening in a much larger venue. With ‘kaffee’ being the German word for coffee, owner Annick Strynckx lived in Berlin for a while, the special lattes, cappuccinos and espressos have made their way over to the new venue. Walk through the bright yellow doors to find the beloved beverages ‘Bar Titty’, ‘King Louie’ and ‘Dalmatian’ in full glory, paired with a helping of flammkuchen, a doughy German specialty.
Antwerp loves a concept store and Kim Hertogs’ Buchbar, opened in 2014, is just that. The tiny store on the south side is filled with the actress’ favorite books and serves coffee roasted by Oris from Normo. The special, sound absorbing reading room is perfect for drifting of into story land on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Nestled in between the historical docks and bridges of harbor neighborhood ’t Eilandje, espresso bar Broer Bretel is run by four brothers with a deep love of the black gold. After five years and a mention in the New York Times, Toon Craen and his siblings have recently decided to go looking for new challenges, and are currently searching for someone to take over their coffee aficionado magnet. Grab your chance to have one of the genial brothers serve you a cup on the beautiful terrace before it’s too late.
With 11 professionally trained baristas manning the machines, household name Caffènation is ahead of the game. The team of specialty roasters supplies a lot of other Antwerp coffee shops such as Coffee & Vinyl and Dikke Kat (Fat Cat) with their seasonally appropriate coffee, paying special attention to the origin of the beans they use. Their own bar and its laid back vibe has been a favorite among coffee connoisseurs for over 12 years.
That this ‘colonel of coffee’ deserves a high rank among the Belgian coffee shops has become increasingly clear in the past couple of years. The bar with the stylish wooden paneling and charming wooden front step has recently purchased a specialized roasting machine. Enjoy a drink on the always pleasantly buzzing terrace on the corner of the Troonplaats.
A haven to coffee purists, Normo appeared on the scene not long after Caffènation gave the city its new coffee impulse. The Normo customer takes his coffee black while reading his newspaper living room style, taking it slow like the way true blue barista Jens Oris , who roasts his own green beans, likes to drip his coffee.
KoffieKlap is a charity association, working with the women of Antwerp. Under the motto of ‘honest coffee, honest chances’, Coffee House Caffee Talk gives ladies from the red light district near the docks, a chance to gain some experience in the catering industry and offers personal coaching and guidance to get back on track. At Coffee Talk, it’s all about the human connection.
In the South part of town we find Revista, inviting in the many museum visitors with its warm lighting and wooden interior. The bar offers not only the occasional teddy bear latte art, but also a wide array of magazines and newspapers to read while warming up. It’s the ideal spot for the Antwerp office worker to make the most out of their coffee break or wind down with an aperitif before heading home after a long day (Revista stays open until 8pm).
Located at Antwerp’s hip Zuid, Coffee & Vinyl offers exactly what its name implies and then some. Daily newspapers, music magazines, art on the walls, and hearty pastries make this less of a buzzing coffee bar and more of a musical living room where an afternoon flies by in a relaxed haze. Retro chairs inside the cozy space fill up fast – especially when a live concert is in play – but falling in love with their extensive record collection is a great way to kill time while waiting for a spot to free up.