maandag 4 oktober 2010

On beans

The friendly barrista's at Expressofabriek are teaching me about coffee beans.
I adore the Brazilian Santos Espresso Arabica bean for my espresso.
The Panama Esmeralda Special 100% Geisha is great for regular coffee.

Both available from Boot (The Golden Coffee Box) Koffie (seriously nobody has paid me for that statement).

woensdag 29 september 2010

Coffee Company @ Haarlemmerdijk & Binnen Oranjestraat

In Amsterdam, coffee company has been rapidly expanding before the *$$$ juggernaut lands in the city. (During last year they have opened at the airport and various train stations.) I think the original coffee company is the one I frequent on the Haarlemmerdijk (the street that has become Amsterdam's foodie-heaven, but still has a full complement of ordinary, high quality shops); it's been open for just over a decade. The coffee has a high average quality, and they keep trying to get the snacks right (still work in progress). They cut down on the free wifi, and now one gets an hour with a coffee order. Not generous, but still workable.

THis is definitely place for people watching. The area has gentrified, but is still a cross-roads for lots of bike and walking traffic in and out of town. There is a big long table along big tall windows, and lots of creative industry types, a few day-traders, and students share view(s). I have met a few damn good logicians, too. For out of towners, who don't like the club scene, this is even a place to start a social life, or get a lot of work done. On week-ends it gets too busy, but it stays open until 7pm most days of the year.

Grotere kaart weergeven
For food...a block down there is a very small Iranian sandwhich store with the best (Mediterranean spreads in town); and very cheap. Yummy!

zondag 15 augustus 2010


One of the best places for coffee in all of Amsterdam is De Espressofabriek in the old Westergasfabriek (to be found in Westerpark), although its official address is:
Gosschalklaan 7. There is another outlet at Ijberg (a supposedly trendy part of Amsterdam on one of the harbor islands, but in my humble opinion that place is basically a Vinexwijk for well connected middle-class families), but I won't go there.

The coffee is absolutely superb; even Italian tourists are impressed. (A bunch of them found their way to the usually very quiet upstairs--the stairs are hidden behind the barrista's.) The brownies and muffins are addictive, too. Better yet, the place has free wifi (and clean toilets); the password is... But foodies will be left hungry. Worse, on sunny weekends (admittedly rare in Amsterdam), the place is a zoo. The lead manager of the place is a terribly self-satisfied barrista, who thinks of his craft as an art that needs to be admired slowly. Moreover, he doesn't mind letting tall blondes skip the very long cues that develop due to his out-sized narcissism. But when he is gone and on ordinary week-days, the place is among my favorite hide-abouts. The barristas live all over Holland, and they make long trecks (treks?) to serve the very best coffee to a growing group of appreciative customers.

Note to the computerfreaks: I have been unable to find a picture of espressofabriek on

donderdag 29 juli 2010

Cafe Daalder

Cafe Daalder is at the corner of Lindengracht 90. The owners of the place, Frans and Wilke, are our neighbors, so I need to be careful!:) Despite its name, the Lindengracht is not a canal anymore. But it is a quiet street that is mostly used for outdoor parking except on market-days (Saturday). There has been a market for over a century which tells you how long it has not been a a canal. There are terrific Greek, Indonesian, and Japanese take-out places around the square and side-streets.

Daalder has free wifi (the pass-word is Frans' birthday). The coffee is decent, but not superb. I was a huge fan of the tuna sandwich. But they have unaccountably removed that from the menu. During the day it is a very mellow bar with a leisurely atmosphere. The wait-staff knows who you are and will leave you alone. People, including some of Holland's best known artists and writers, come to read the daily newspaper and not to be disturbed. Moms with children like to sit outside on the ample terrace (when sunny). I like the fried cheese sandwich.

In the evening it turns into a busy bar and a lovely restaurant. In particular, when Frans is in the kitchen (he is the bold one), the menu really comes alive with a mixture of salads, steaks, and fish--all for a reasonable price. There is some terrific finger foods.

vrijdag 23 juli 2010

Newsflash: Letting to be sold!

My favorite and much beloved Letting has been sold, and will start under new ownership after July 26. (Apparently new ownership is a couple with British roots.) Word is that little will change (and coffee-cards honored) until the end of year after which a new concept will be unveiled.

Besides great coffee (and cookies), free wifi, and delicious sandwiches, Dennis whose generosity of spirit makes the shabby chic of Letting glow with joy will be much much missed. He's moving with Let and Ing to their pancake place a few blocks up the Prinsengracht. It is to be hoped he will open his own place sometime in the future.,+amsterdam&sll=52.377914,4.887379&sspn=0.000725,0.00236&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Prinsenstraat+3,+1015+Amsterdam,+Noord-Holland&ll=52.379817,4.887371&spn=0.0115,0.037766&z=15&layer=c&cbll=52.377696,4.88738&panoid=miPok-MZ07y6FZ_IPKjmuA&cbp=12,208.28,,0,17.64

maandag 19 juli 2010

Boycott Tazzina!

Today my fiancee had an emergency stop at Tazzina in order to discretely breastfeed our 7,6 month old son. (She has a Brittish sensibility so she is very polite about such things.) Anyway, She was told to cover up her breast, or leave! In AMSTERDAM (after customer complaint by a Dutch man)! Mind you the law permits breastfeeding in public, but not in Belgium by the way.
Anyway, it's official: I call for a boycott of Tazzina!

To put this in perspective:a few days ago I already called attention to their lousy attitude:

donderdag 15 juli 2010

Great coffee, lousy attitide

One of the best places to get coffee in Amsterdam is Tazzina on the Brouwersgracht 139. They serve their coffee with delightful Italian cookies. The place is familiar to locals for having once housed a bar with rather graphic homosexual wallpaper. The location is idyllic overlooking a draw-bridge, and it is conveniently located at the entry to the Jordaan. For a picture, check this:,4.886298&spn=0,0.037766&z=15&iwloc=A&lci=com.panoramio.all&layer=c&cbll=52.381567,4.886167&panoid=f4xIIU_lGW_Dq8izTxd5gw&cbp=12,57.16,,0,5.1
Because it straddles two sides of a corner it's small terrace can capture sunlight for most of the day. They have had trouble with their oven, so I fancy their panininis cold rather than lukewarm. One of the best things about the place is that they package coffee to go including for your home mechanical espresso-machine.

Nevertheless, I am not the world's biggest fan of the place. On week-ends and lunchtime it gets very crowded. Worse, the owner is rather stingy--she grudgingly serves water in the smallest possible glasses (which are more appropriate to Dutch gin than water). This attitude is familiar from Flemish bars, but in Holland it is bizarre. This often embarrasses her employees. Moreover, she also enforces a tight ban on laptops. Weirdly this is unmentioned on the outdoor menus (or anywhere else visible), although it is claimed to be printed on the indoor menus. I haven't gone back to check this.

dinsdag 13 juli 2010

Of Apple-strudels and stars

With the very best Apple strudel and location (Noordermarkt 43) of Amsterdam, Winkel attracts tourists and locals alike. From Spring to Fall its terrace is the place to be seen by movie stars, intellectuals, and dog-owners. (In Amsterdam these can still be one and the same person.),+amsterdam&sll=52.381567,4.886167&sspn=0.01095,0.037766&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Noordermarkt+43,+1015+Amsterdam,+Noord-Holland&ll=52.378954,4.886403&spn=0.000725,0.00236&z=19&iwloc=A&lci=com.panoramio.all&layer=c&cbll=52.378977,4.886546&panoid=FKvkAy7OvyH6yz0Ct_7iFA&cbp=12,321.47,,0,5

The coffee is so-so, and there is no wifi (not even to be borrowed from neighbors). I am very fond of the Tostis (fried cheese sandwiches), but the kitchen can get easily overwhelmed on tropical days; so prepare for delays. The best time to visit is early in the morning and if sunny, see Amsterdam awake gloriously while reading a newspaper or enjoying a book. Avoid the place on Saturdays (upscale farmers market with folk that buy their status with biological food) and Mondays (normal market) unless one is willing to stand in line for service.
There is a decent dining menu, but I would head next-door to Noordwest, which has a slightly better food-menu (but, despite sharing an owner, does not stock the world-famous Apple strudel).
For the really hip crowd Proust is a stroll away on the other side of the Noorderkerk, but the place has nothing to offer to the coffee-sipping wifi-addict, except crowded people watching, drinks and decent hamburger.

vrijdag 2 juli 2010

One of my faves...and its neighbor

Letting is in de Prinsenstraat 3, one of the charming nine streets, in between the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. During the morning the small terrace catches sun (when it's not raining).,+amsterdam&sll=52.377914,4.887379&sspn=0.000725,0.00236&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Prinsenstraat+3,+1015+Amsterdam,+Noord-Holland&ll=52.379817,4.887371&spn=0.0115,0.037766&z=15&layer=c&cbll=52.377696,4.88738&panoid=miPok-MZ07y6FZ_IPKjmuA&cbp=12,208.28,,0,17.64

Inside it can get crowded over lunch and brunch especially on week-ends (especially because they are very child-friendly), but otherwise it has a shabby chic atmosphere. The two owners Nicolette & Inge (get it?) brew the best Dutch coffee (Boot Gold, I think) in generous portions which they serve with addictive home baked cookies. They have free wifi, which they turn on upon request. (Yeah, somewhat weird.) They make excellent home-baked cakes (try the carrot cake! and -- for non purists -- the cheese cake) and I adore their eggs over easy (not on menu) and their fried cheese sandwiches ("tostis") are a great bargain. The burgers and salads are all terrific. Secret fact: the owners also run a great pancake house a few blocks down.

Downside: since the start of the financial crisis, they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; on other days they close up at 5pm, which seems a bit early. Upside: unhurried and genuinely welcoming atmosphere.
The star of the show is the only full time employee: Dennis,.

Across the street, Vennington, which catches the afternoon sun at its terrace, serves the very best club sandwich in Amsterdam. Their warm sandwiches are generally very tasty. Unfortunately, the coffee is decidedly mediocre. Some folk like the two male owners quite a bit, but I have noticed they have a tendency to leave their garbage in front of Letting (which bespeaks a mean streak). They do serve very good shakes. But no wifi. Better place to read than to write.

donderdag 1 juli 2010

Brief intro; mission statement

This blog recounts my ongoing search to find the optimal combination of coffee, food, and wifi access in the inner city (Grachtengordel), of my hometown, Amsterdam.