Germany: A taste of Kiwi in Berlin coffee

By Eva Buzo

The German capital's eccentric eateries come with a dash of Kiwi in the shape of decent coffee, finds Eva Buzo

Antipodes, in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, is run by New Zealander Jane Nye. Photo / Dan Zoubek
Antipodes, in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, is run by New Zealander Jane Nye. Photo / Dan Zoubek

The window box is decked out with blue, striped cushions. Next to me are some wicker chairs, in the middle of the room are three square kitchen tables with some 1970s-style chairs. The theme of this cafe is definitely "Flea Market - €5 Sale".

Berlin often leaves me feeling befuddled but delighted with its typical mix-and-mismatch style. It is a city where penniless artists are invited to splash whatever is running through their fevered minds across any surface available.

And wherever someone is trying to have a creative thought, coffee shops soon follow - havens where they can contemplate or escape from their creations.

To cater for this, Berlin has birthed an eclectic, and sometimes eccentric, cafe culture that has visitors either scratching their heads or planning to move here to become the poor writer/singer/poet/painter they'd always dreamed of being.

"My boss built a sauna out back," a barista in Neukolln tells me. On one side of the wall is a bunk bed, with a book swap underneath filled with tattered novels. Another cafe in Schoneberg doubles as a second-hand furniture store.

These eccentricities don't stop at decor. Quinini specialises in excellent coffee and gourmet quininis - toast topped elegantly with such combinations as goat's cheese, pear and balsamic vinegar. The owner serves nothing else.

Berliners show fierce loyalty towards their cafe. Coffee chains are rare. Berliners have their own cafe in the Kiez (the German equivalent of the 'hood) and on a Saturday morning they will join a line that stretches out the door to wait for their favourite barista to make their coffee.

Often when I arrive at a cafe someone has told me I must visit because they make real coffee, I find the hint of Kiwi in the barista's German.

"There's still an astonishment that Kiwis know about coffee," says Jane Nye from Wellington, owner of Antipodes in Prenzlauer Berg, as she makes my cappuccino to perfection.

This Kiwi invasion fits in with the unexpected and mismatch Berlin thrives on. The open attitude of Berliners welcomes the idea Antipodeans are the ones to go to for a great coffee.

Berlin's cafe owners take pride in their quirks and create a welcoming, home-like feel mixed with the vibrancy of the city's streets. Their food is not focus group tested, temperature controlled, cookie-cutter fare, but a unique expression of the owner's individuality. Just don't be surprised to find them in the sauna out back.

- NZ Herald

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