20 Cafes To Try Before You Die – And Why!
With the Warsaw Coffee Festival occurring on the first weekend of Feb, join us for a look at the twenty cafés that have become representative of the city’s diverse coffee scene – from the old to the new, via the celebs and unknowns, we bring you our own curated choice of the ones you need to know…
For A Working Afternoon
Set inside a renewed tenement that leans over Bagatela, this café is decorated in a soothingly Scandi-style: concrete colors, raw timber, and lighting fixtures that are as captivating as the punters. Slouching on sofas or gathered around the oval central table, a rich smorgasbord of Warsaw characters await, usually wearing headphones and tapping into laptops. In this air of calm, work becomes a pleasure.
For Natural Light
Espousing the Japandi style (an amalgam of Japanese and Scandinavian should your brain not be working), Typika’s floor-to-ceiling windows bathe this fashionably stark, split-level space in light no matter the season. Sparingly decorated, the blonde wood furnishings (check the blob-shaped table!) and neon deer further emphasize the natural, refreshing feel.
For A Neighborhood Buzz
Sleek low-lying black chairs hold the line with the bottom of the window pane encouraging gazing and make for an easy lounging experience. Co-owners Marta and Andrzej have demonstrated a real devotion to detail, with their vegan cakes, non-alc. mulled wines, and cupping sessions all conspiring to make this café one of the secret treasures of Muranów
For Vinyl Afternoons
Hałas Vinyl + Coffee
Half-submerged below street level, this little café is home to a lovingly curated smattering of albums displayed in the first room – Sonic Youth, John Coltrane, Gorillaz, Bjork, Nirvana, etc. Once you’ve made your purchase, retreat to the retro-fitted, lounge-like space in the back to sip what’s known as the best specialty coffee in the whole of Saska Kępa.
Looking onto the glorious glass cube that is the POLIN museum, Tonka’s crystal white minimalism rules with the monotone palette given punch by subtle zaps of greenery. The coffee – sourced from the likes of HAYB – is excellent, but tastes even better when tested alongside Tonka’s ever-changing line-up of seasonal cakes and pastries. Actually, these are our fave desserts in town!
For People Watching
After 12-years of public service, it would be fair to call the Ministry a bona fide legend. Looking like a café should (extendable lamps, stripped wooden floors, and clean white colors), the huge ground floor windows make it impossible to sip down on your coffee without first losing yourself in daydreams whilst gazing out at the people of Warsaw rushing back and forth.
For Something Micro
Looking a charmingly rudimentary from the outside (a wooden bench, wobbly ashtray and plastic crates), step through a battered door plastered with stickers to be instantly seduced by a tiny locale with 1930s floor tiles and no shortage of collectible junk: Polaroids, postcards, books and mags. Polish roasteries are well represented, and other plus points go to the succinct choice of cakes, craft beers, kombuchas and suchlike. Random fact: occultist and astrologist Błażej Włodarz once lived at this addy!
For Retro Hip
Any Coffee Hall of Fame just wouldn’t feel complete without the inclusion of this evergreen institution. Jacketed in chipboard panels, vintage armchairs and retro film and theater posters from the heyday of the so-called ‘Polish school of poster’, the buzz about Relaks has lasted so long as to become ingrained in Mokotów’s DNA. Being here, you understand why.
For Something Wacky
Attached to one of the hippest and most Instagram-able barber shops in town, highlights of the adjoining cafe include rocking coffee, the nicest staff you could ever imagine and an almost demented collection of toy figurines (from Simpson models and Marvel heroes to a bad ass Al Pacino in full Scarface mode!). Tiny in its footprint, what it lacks in size it makes up for in heart.
For Old Meets New
Pl. Hallera 8
Once a drab and soulless square leftover from the Communist years, Plac Hallera has come a long way in a short space of time. In part, the reinvention can be credited to Trzy Kruki, a vibrant café whose outsized dimensions have seen the stern original pillars and sky-high ceilings softened by orb-like lamps and leafy succulents. Minimalistic in its design, here the atmosphere of the People’s Republic clashes head-on with the creative, liberal mindset that defines modern Warsaw.
For reasons that mystify, Warsaw has never really managed to get the bagel right – at least, not until the 2020 opening of Serso. The bad news? To find this little heaven, you need to head from the beaten track. Located in an ascetic space inside a Socialist Realist block, the bagel combos veer from classic to creative and twin well with their coffee. Early closing hours attest to the popularity they have gained.
For Home Needs
At Labuna passion and knowledge combine to make for a rather special ‘coffee showroom’ stocking all that’s required to transform your living space into a private little café. Retailing the latest gadgets, gizmos, grinders and contraptions, the wide range of single origin coffees is also exhaustive.
For A Family Affair
A father and son operation, this cult roastery now has a café to speak of (run by Milena, the daughter). Specializing – but not limited to – the coffees of Africa, this intimate café comes with a super-hip vibe and a wall plastered with Polaroids. Snuck discreetly behind Pl. Zbawiciela’s ginormous church, consider it a gentle reminder of the area’s cult reputation among those that fall between Generations X and Z.
For Warsaw’s All-Rounder
Tamka 2 / Wilcza 42 / Próżna 7
Ok, so there’s three locations, but being a chain should not count against Coffeedesk. Each touting their own individual style, it’s Próżna that’s become our fave, largely down to the cobbled pre-war street it finds itself perched on. All three, however, excel when it comes to delivering consistent quality. Theirs is a benchmark that many others pursue.
For Seasonal Inspirations
Owner Uri Wollner is one of the great coffee influencers of Poland, and his seasonally changing menu includes such winners as Aperol espresso in summer and spiced pumpkin latte in the autumn and winter. This passion project is best appreciated if you can snag one of the few armchairs in this tiny locale.
For The Original Pioneer
Filtry Dobra Kawa
Launched in 2007 by Konrad Konstantynowicz, Filtry was the original specialty coffee café, a groundbreaking operation that led by example. Enjoy your coffee in a high-ceilinged unit clad in chess board colors and scuffed PRL flooring – for the city’s coffee afficionados (nay, the country’s!) this is a genuine place of pilgrimage.
For A Literary Twist
Third time lucky? Roaming around Bielany these past few years, Czytelnia’s third location in recent times will hopefully prove to be the last move they ever have to make. Striking in the austerity of its design, the look is softened by a book shelf of coffee table titles, and a coffee offer that has sought to break boundaries – among other things, head here for origami drip sips or coffee from a 3Temp Hipster machine.
For The Energy
Served over a veneered table rescued from the PRL period, Błysk’s tight confines generate a natural air of familiarity that’s as addictive as the coffee. Often standing room only, the buzz and hubbub owes itself not just to the delicious espresso shots, but also the homemade cookies and dog-loving owners that will spoil your pet. Even the ceramics (AOOMI should you ask) are absolutely gorge. Being here, it’s the equivalent of discovering a secret chakra point.
For The Incredible Dog!
Fact: a fantastic café needs a fantastic dog, and at Paręosób that’s just what you’ll find. The adorable black Labrador aside, venture to this off-center locale to soak up its neighborly vibes over consistently great coffee. Once home to tailor’s store, the upended mannequin legs are, presumably, a nod to the heritage of the address.
For The Greater Good
Tamka 33 / Bracka 18
For many there is no better café anywhere in Poland than Stor’s original on Tamka. And it’s true, when the sunlight slopes in through the window, there are few finer feelings than idling away in this plant festooned refuge. Although famed for their glorious coffee and detail-driven approach to quality, recognition should also be handed to their devotion to local causes, community actions and zero waste philosophy. You don’t just feel good being here, you’re doing good as well.
For Something World Class
Forum is the café that has it all: a fashionably frayed interior, friendly dogs nuzzling around (call him Apollo), and a devoted client base that expects nothing but the best – and at Forum, that’s exactly what they get. Proudly marketing themselves as “the home of the Polish Aeropress and Polish Brewers’ Cup Champions”, the individual accolades that have been amassed by the owners and baristas say everything there is to know.
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