Although International Coffee Day still lies a couple of days away, it’s actually today that Poles celebrate their love of the humble bean.
With residents now spoiled for choice, the coffee revolution hasn’t looked back since a coffee trader by the name of Tomasz Obracaj entered the scene to organize the country’s first barista championship. According to most industry insiders, no-one did more to promote coffee culture during the 2000s.
Galvanized, the scene took another upturn with the launch of Warsaw’s first specialty coffee stop, Filtry, in 2007. Fifteen years on, not a single neighborhood that we can think can be accused of lacking on this front. But with so much choice, listing all would demand its own website. Instead, and on the occasion of National Coffee Day, we bring you some of our own personal favorites…
Tamka 2 / Wilcza 42 / Próźna 7
Despite their growing number of locations, should never be thought of as merely a chain. With each location imparting its own fresh vibe, its Próżna that’s perhaps the most attractive with its brick finishes, warm woods, elegant lighting and glass-encased coffee lab set aside from trainings and workshops. More ascetic in its style, we remain firm fans though of their original on Wilcza (pictured).
Hoża 58/60 & Lwowska 2A
Run by coffee revolutionary Uri Wollner, Cophi has long punched harder than its super-snug dimensions might otherwise suggest. Though small in its footprint, there’s no doubting the size of Cophi’s heart. Never sitting on their laurels, the seasonally adjusted menu is another reason to visit – in autumn, that means the long awaited return of their pumpkin spiced latte.
Sleek low-lying black chairs hold the line with the bottom of the window pane encouraging gazing and making for an easy lounging experience. Hits of yellow in the porcelain cups provide a nice little accent, whilst there’s a few tables capable of holding a laptop should you fancy a bit of remote working. Coffee comes from the likes of HAYB, Heresy, Five Elephant and the Bydgoszcz-based Norwegian roaster Audun Sørbotten, though the cakes should not be overlooked either.
Attached to one of the hippest barber shops in town, highlights of the adjoining cafe include a rocking cold brew, supremely friendly staff and a half-mad collection of toy action figures (from Simpson models to a bad ass Al Pacino in full Scarface mode!). Though small in its floorplan, there’s no questioning its impact on the neighborhood: without Fat White, Muranów would be poorer.
Launched in 2007 by Konrad Konstantynowicz (their birthday was but a few days back!), 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 – considered by the city’s afficionados as a place of pilgrimage, Filtry’s stock has continued to soar with its appeal stretching to include the new generation of coffee lovers.
Forum has it all: a fashionably frayed interior, friendly dogs loping about, and a devoted client base that’s all about out-sized headphones and razor-thin laptops. Changing weekly, the big pull is a menu of specialty coffees from acclaimed roasters such as Five Elephant and The Coffee Collective fixed up by Poland’s AeroPress and Brewers Cup champions.
Divide Hałas into three sections: first, a tiny garden area with a couple of park benches; then, downstairs, a small chamber selling collectors classic vinyl and coffee sourced from some of Europe’s top roasters. Finally, at the back, discover a Nordic-style living room arrangement that encourages afternoons spent sipping coffee whilst catching up on email. Though just a stone’s throw from Francuska, it’s removed enough to feel like a private neighborhood secret.
This neighborhood café offers a human touch in an area filling itself with gleaming glass blocks and gated compounds. Acting as a magnetic force, the homemade nitro machine (“I just like making things,” says the owner), is a thing of legend.
An evergreen institution, the specialty coffee at Relaks commands respect across Poland. Jacketed in chipboard panels and retro posters, the buzz has lasted so long as to become ingrained in their DNA. With the weather just about holding out, soak up the golden glow of autumn on the tiny bench running along the façade.
Relax na Wilczej
An updated upgrade of the original Relax found downtown, this modern day success story maximizes all available space and light with a clean-lined interior that’s embellished by a scattering of coffee tomes and a statement mural by Mariusz Tarkawian.
Decorated in a soothingly Scandi-style, here it’s all concrete colors, raw timber, subtle splashes of art and lighting fixtures that are as captivating as the punters: headphone wearing digital nomads, exchange students flicking through their notepads, couples playing catch-up and influencers shooting videos for their next Tik Tok hit. As for the coffee, they work real magic with Ethiopian beans in particular. With autumn hitting, its proximity to Łazienki make it a perfect stop after a leafy walk.
Set in the heart of Stare Bielany, there’s something about Roślina that everyone loves. Using their shoestring budget to maximum effect, the plant-filled, concrete interior feels social and creative, though to make the most of the changing seasons head to the magical little garden to the side.
Heaven for freelancers and people watchers, visitors bask in natural light amid outbreaks of greenery and quirky design touches: over some of the best specialty coffee in the city, time runs away here and before you know it hours have passed. Though it feels like a neighborhood warrior, it comes as no surprise that Stor’s patrons hail from all over Warsaw – but if you can’t journey in, then at least pencil in time for their Bracka venture in the center.
Doubling as a vintage furniture shop, find every surface decked out with retro discoveries that can be yours for a song: from Marilyn clocks to rotary dial phones to that Virgin Mary table lamp that you’ve always secretly coveted. And that’s before you cast your eyes on the Jetson period chairs; novelty teapots; antique treasure chest; and S&M themed tableware. The drinks are equally unorthodox and include non-alcoholic wines, kombuchas, homemade lemonades, alternative colas and a strong range of specialty coffee.
Doubling as a cocktail bar (and an excellent one at that), by day people stop in for shots of espresso and little bites such as salmon panini. These daylight hours roll by blissfully in an interior enriched by plush blue velvets and shining gold surfaces. Housing a bespoke tailor’s studio for decades (now found across the street), homage to the previous tenant by way of black and white pictures telling the story of the brand.