Over 120 types of cereal that you can combine with 30 varieties of milk and 20 different toppings. Even if you're not a fan of the whole cereal for breakfast thing, you have to admit that cereal cafe is an interesting idea.
London's Cereal Killer Cafe offers a wide variety of American and British cereal, as well as morning delicacies from France, Spain, Australia and Argentina. Apart from cow's milk (whole, semi or skimmed) there's a handful of plant milks options (soya, oat, rice, coconut, almond and hazelnut), all of which you can combine with different syrups, including bubble gum, peanut butter and mint.
Most people get pretty confused with endless cereal possibilities (or at least I did), so the Cereal Cocktails section can be a lifesaver. I know nothing about cereal, so I went for "Double Rainbow" and was very pleased (it was colourful and sweet, what else can a girl need?). Good thing the Cereal Killer Cafe is a regular cafe too, as I really needed a strong espresso after all that sugar.
I'm a big fun of the whole cycle chic and I often picture about myself, speeding through the streets on a lovely bike, wind in my loose hair, feeling perfectly confident wearing a long skirt and high heels. In reality, I don't cycle that much, especially in London, as the left-hand traffic is rather confusing and I being hit by a double decker is not exactly my idea of a perfect death.
Luckily for me, Look Mum No Hands! is perfect for both bike lovers and people who are simply after a cup of good coffee. It's an all-in-one coffee shop, bar and bike repair shop. Coffee is indeed very good, the place is spacious, friendly and relaxed. I have no opinion whatsoever on the bike repair part.
Great place for breakfast - you can go for traditional full English breakfast or choose between eggs, porridge, muesli or delicious thyme-roasted mushrooms on sourdough toasts. They also have great lunch options and have a bar with beer and wine.
Perhaps you already have your favourite place for a cup of coffee and some freshly baked pastry in Warsaw. Perhaps you are still looking for one.
Perhaps it will be a new French bistro-cafe called Być Może (meaning 'perhaps' in Polish), which popped up a few months ago in a historical townhouse on plac Unii Lubelskiej. The building is famous for having held the first MPIK, Klub Międzynarodowej Prasy i Książki (International Book and Press Club) - opened a few years after the World War II, providing Warsaw citizens with rare books and music, foreign language press and freshly brewed coffee.
If you are, like ourselves, huge enthusiasts of bread, you have found the right place. You can enjoy freshly bake baguettes, all shapes and flavours of wheat bread, rye bread, nut bread, gluten-free bread, as well as hand-made croissants, tarts and all sorts of sweet treats. If you're trying to stay away from bread, you can go for the lunch offer - freshly prepared from local ingredients on a daily basis. If you still don't feel convinced, we have one last argument. Wine! Lots of wine. From Italy, France, Spain. Perhaps you're more convinced now?
Czuła Buła, a friendly little coffeehouse, is situated in the heart of Old Mokotów in Warsaw. They serve breakfast, sandwiches, salads, refreshing lemonades and, obviously, freshly brewed coffee. It's a lovely place to start the day with a bowl of creamy millet porridge and a cup of cappuccino.
Ania Oleksak, a co-founder of a micro roasting company, Kofi Brand, introduces us to the world of really good coffee. If you cannot imagine a cup of coffee without milk and sweet syrup, you’ll find out what could be the reasons why you don’t like black coffee.
What’s different about your coffee?
Everything starts with the coffee bean. We only work with specialty coffee - coffee of the highest quality. As a product, coffee is extremely interesting, as its taste and quality are influenced by numerous factors.
The first characteristic is the species. There are two most common sources of coffee beans - arabica and robusta. We solely use arabica, which is generally less bitter and richer in aromas that translate into overall feeling that we call taste. Within arabica you’ll find coffees of better and worse quality. It starts on the level of the variety - for example there is valued Bourbon or inferior Catimor, which is a hybrid between arabica and robusta. Moreover, the same variety can be cultivated in more or less favourable conditions. There are farms that are located at higher altitudes (which often, but not always, is advantageous for coffee growth), that have stable climate or richer soil. As it is often the case with natural products, there’s an abundance of factors. We’re seeking to reach farmers that have the best coffee.
How do you find them?
The best, most interesting and by far the tastiest way is to visit the plantations in person. It allows us to talk to the farmer and to see how the coffee is grown and processed. This year we explored Guatemala and Salvador, last year Konrad [Oleksak, Ania’s husband and co-worker] was in Ethiopia.
Direct trade is still a relatively new trend. A while ago coffee was only available on commodity exchanges, where third-party vendors sold coffee that they had bought from producers. We skip this step by reaching farmers ourselves, which gives us access to unique coffees. Personal relationships give us the certainty that we will get the best cup of coffee possible.
We also work with importers of specialty coffee that we know we can trust. They provide coffee with full history - we know which farm it comes from, how and where it was processed. We can be confident about its quality. In the end it’s confirmed when we taste coffee during cupping.
What defines specialty coffee?
The principle is to obtain coffee seeds that have as little defects as possible. When we take a 350 g sample of specialty coffee, there will be no more than 5 defects. Commercial coffee can have as much as 90 defects in a sample of the same size. Each defect influences the final taste of coffee. Even if the seed is only slightly crushed, it will result in uneven roast and unbalanced extraction.
How important is the roasting process?
Even the best coffee seeds can be spoiled by improper roasting. Roasting companies tend to roast the seeds for too long, in temperatures that are too high. With commercial coffee it’s done on purpose. Burnt coffee has a taste that is predictable and easy to repeat. It’s similar with meat. If we take a piece of beef, a piece of pork and a piece of veal and then burn all of them, each portion of meat will taste the same. The taste will be easy to recreate - it will be the taste of burnt meat.
Coffee has natural acidity. People react to it differently, mostly because it’s not something they’ve been used to. They associate coffee with bitter, thick infusion, not with fruits, whereas coffees that fascinates us the most taste like strawberries, pineapple, berries and flowers. You can sense all that in a single cup of coffee, especially if it was brewed using alternative methods.
What people identify as the taste of coffee is often the taste of bad coffee. In many cases it’s coffee with numerous defects of the seeds, resulting in bitterness that calls for milk to smooth and balance the taste. The acidity is crucial so that the coffee isn’t boring and flat. I, too, used to take my coffee with milk or even whipped cream and think that coffee chains serve the best coffee ever. The sense of taste develops after we’ve tested and compared a lot of different coffee types. In general, the more flavours we try, the broader our palette of taste gets and the same goes for coffee. It can get truly interesting, as coffee contains the highest number of aroma compounds. Wine has around 600, honey around 800, coffee - over a thousand.
Where can we try your coffee?
While there is a growing number of individual consumers who buy coffee for home, our main group of customers remain coffee shops. We enjoy working with them, because the owners take coffee very seriously. There’s an extra effort that comes with selling our coffee. You need qualified baristas who know how to brew it properly and who can explain why this coffee tastes differently and why this is how coffee should actually taste. We are lucky to work with people who run their businesses with passion. Most of these café are located in Warsaw, but we have more and more customers from other cities - Gdańsk, Poznań, Opole, Gliwice.
You serve coffee here as well.
It’s really surprising how many people come here to have coffee. We started off as a roasting company. The coffee shop was a bonus - we’ve decided to use the space we had to present our product.
We didn’t hire any staff at first, whoever was free served the customers. Most people make a plan before they open a coffeehouse - they know that they want to serve espresso and cappuccino, that they’ll have vanilla syrup and orange blossom honey. We were selling whatever was available at the moment. Someone came in to buy coffee and we only had aeropress and only coffee from Kenya. These circumstances gave us an opportunity to educate our clients. Today we sell more black coffees than milk coffees and more drips than espressos. I didn’t run any surveys, but I don’t think there’s another place like that in Poland.
If you’re still hungry for coffee knowledge, visit Kofi Brand and let one of the baristas serve you a cup of unboring coffee and a portion of fresh coffee news. Or check out Ania’s coffee blog, Coffee Dilemma.