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Best coffee in Amsterdam: top three

capuccino at DE Koffie Cafe in Oud-ZuidAfter my last (overly long) post on coffee, I feel I owe you that top three of best coffee places in Amsterdam. As you must know by now, taste is everything. Coffee should be strong, aromatic and have a full flavour. It should in no event be burnt, ideally there is no grind in the cup.

I like 'koffie verkeerd', or a latte, or even a cappuccino, if I need waking up or am in the mood for luscious foam. If I am in a laidback mood, I will opt for the latte machiatto. The steaming of the milk is therefore also important. I could go on and on about the technique behind this, but I won't.

So currently in third place:
My latte was a little on the lukewarm side, but the coffee had a lusciously deep taste. It was made on a machine that looks like it's from another century. Having tasted the result, as a barista, I'd love to get my hands on it and see how it works.

Second place:
Ok, so I was a little harsh and went on and on about the name of the latte/latte machiatto. The point is, that the coffee itself was very good. It was made with love, and that really is something you can taste.  Beautiful Vibiemme machine.

First place:
Douwe Egberts Koffie Cafe
This place in Oud-Zuid I visit around once a week. I love their coffees, because these people really know their stuff. My morning favourite is a creamy cappuccino with cane sugar. The coffee is strong with a full aroma, the foam is velvety and rich. Some of the baristas practice latte art and make apples, hearts or fern leaves in the foam.

The three places in my top three are not all equal. Two I've been to only once yet, whereas the cafe in first place is one I've been to many times. This is what makes it hard to beat. I know the quality is consistent, the service is excellent and the people are always nice. In time I will visit other places, and I will revisit places I've been to before.

The top three may change! I will keep you posted.

Douwe Egberts Koffie Café
Cornelis Schuytstraat 50
1071 JL Amsterdam

Koningin Wilhelminaplein 60-62
1062 KS Amsterdam

Dish Global Kitchen
Overtoom 255
1054 HW Amsterdam


Lovely latte at Coffee@last

Coffee@last, windowI still owed you a review of Coffee@last, the new café opposite the World Fashion Centre. I came across them through Twitter (Go Twitter!) and visited them the day of the sample sale extravaganza at the WFC on April 10. According to their website, they serve the best coffee in town. Now, I love my coffee and that is rather an impressive boast, so I was curious to see how it would turn out.

They do, in fact have very good coffee. My mum ordered a latte, and I asked for a latte machiatto. Oddly, I found that they do not have a latte on the menu, only a latte machiatto. That's ok, I thought. I'd rather have fewer options if they are well executed, than a plethora of options that are badly done. When they made the coffees though, they both turned out to be lattes. Now that can't be right...

Maybe you guys don't really care about coffee. If that is the case, then take with you that they serve good coffee and a reasonable bagel at Coffee@last and leave this post to read another. If you do care about coffee and would like to know the difference between a latte and a latte machiatto, then read on.

A latte
A latte is more or less what the Dutch call a 'koffie verkeerd'. It is made with one shot of espresso in a mug sized glass and with milk, which is poured into the espresso. The foam (about a finger's width) is not ladled over the coffee with a spoon (as you often see it in cafes), it is poured with the milk. A barista lightly clinks the milk jar on the rim of the glass to pour the foam while pouring the milk.

Steaming and foaming milk is not as easy as it looks. Getting the consistency right is really an artform. Pouring the milk and the foam is too, you can make apples, hearts, fern leaves and even swans and indian faces after you clink your jar, if the consistency is right. The very least you can do, however, is strive to get the same amount of foam on all your lattes, as it determines how strong the coffee will be. More milk, less foam, makes for a weaker coffee. More foam, less milk makes for a stronger latte.

A latte machiatto
A latte machiatto may seem the same as a latte: a little bit of coffee and a lot of milk, but it has several differences. Machiatto means 'spotted'. One can have an espresso machiatto (espresso spotted with milk) or a latte machiatto (milk spotted with espresso). For a latte machiatto one steams the milk first. It is poured into a large glass (a size bigger than mug sized) and then left to its own devices for a short amount of time.

During this time the milk and the foam will settle, leaving a clear line between the two, and the barista can make his shot of espresso (only one shot of espresso for a big glass of milk). Once the shot of espresso is ready, it is slowly poured into the milk. Because of the temperature difference between the milk, the foam and the espresso, the espresso settles elegantly between the two layers, creating the look that is typical of a good latte machiatto. Three layers: milk, espresso and foam.

So: bigger glass, more milk, three layers, spotted.

What I got, was a latte, plain and simple. Espresso went into the glass first (one shot in mug sized glass) and the milk was poured over. It makes no sense to put 'latte machiatto' on the menu when it is not that. The explanation of the woman behind the counter was, that this is how they are taught to make coffees by their supplier. And furthermore, that I am a barista and therefore may know the difference, but that ordinary people do not.

That may well be, but if you boast to have the best coffee in town, shouldn't the nomenclature be correct as well? Don't you just want to do it right? I would.

I know I'm a stickler when it comes to coffee. I know the woman at Coffee @last was partly right, that this is because I have been working as a barista for the past 8 months. I find that good coffee, really good, wellmade coffee is very hard to come by. To be fair: Coffee@last makes it into the top 3.

Vibiemme machine at Coffee@last

Vibiemme machine at Coffee@last

Beautiful machine
Anyway. All this technical talk aside. The taste of the coffee was good. This is important. It means they have good beans, it means that they do not burn the coffee, it means that they have a beautiful machine (Vibiemme), that is operated with love and good taste.

The bagel with carpaccio was a little dry, but after I got some extra olive oil drizzled over it, it was alright. I'm very sure I will come back here next time there is a sample sale. If not for the dry bagel, or the nonexistent latte machiatto, then surely for a nice latte.

reading table and bookcase at Coffee@lastCoffee@last has a reading table with a bookcase that you can trade books with. They have lunch, muffins and pies and offer free wifi to boot. In the afternoon the terrace outside basks in the sun.

Koningin Wilhelminaplein 60-62
1062 KS Amsterdam