We didn’t intend to write an Amsterdam cafe guide, but after a week of drinking excellent third wave coffee during our 7th visit to the DAM, we realized that it simply had to happen. Read on to find our highly caffeinated opinions on where to drink specialty coffee in Amsterdam.
We get that the phrase ‘Amsterdam coffee shop’ has a seedy connotation. Other than the confusing name, we don’t personally have an issue with these extracurricular hang-outs that attract slackers from around the world. We may have visited one or two ourselves but that’s a different story.
Instead, our issue is that some travelers miss out on drinking great coffee in Amsterdam due to simple confusion between coffee shops selling cannabis (hennep) and cafes serving coffee (koffie). This is a city with amazing coffee options that transcend global chains like Starbucks as well as the Dutch chain Coffee Company.
With just a little digging, we discovered a vibrant community of specialty coffee shops as well as an active bean roasting network. Though some cafes import beans from European countries like Germany and Sweden, local roasters like White Label Coffee, Friedhats Coffee Roasters, Rum Baba Coffeeroasters, Bocca Coffee Roasters and Stooker Specialty Coffee are fueling Amsterdam’s commitment to quality coffee.
You can visit one or more local roasters if you have time. Otherwise, you can try them while you dine at Amsterdam cafes and restaurants.
As we dug deeper, we learned that Amsterdam’s coffee history goes back centuries to the days when the Dutch East India Company brought coffee to the Netherlands straight from Indonesia. In light of this trading history, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam has a coffee culture that rivals European cities including Athens, Berlin, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Florence, Graz, Hamburg, Lisbon, Lyon, Paris, Porto, Rome, Strasbourg and Vilnius.
Amsterdammers have embraced the specialty coffee culture with a vengeance. Dutch baristas rival peers in Australia with their modern brewing techniques and latte art skills. In fact, we met several baristas in Amsterdam who previously lived in Australia at some point in their lives. It really is a small world after all – at least when it comes to specialty coffee.
Amsterdam Cafe Guide
We drank a lot of coffee in seven days during our seventh visit to Amsterdam. Not only did we frequent multiple cafes every day, but we also drank coffee during leisurely Amsterdam brunches at spots like Dignita, The Breakfast Club and Little Collins.
Read our Amsterdam brunch guide.
Keeping with the ‘seven’ theme, we’ve narrowed our favorite specialty coffee shops down to the following seven Amsterdam cafes:
1. Scandinavian Embassy
Scandinavian Embassy embodies the passion for coffee and fika that we’ve previously embraced in Scandinavian cities like Helsinki, Turku, Oslo and Stockholm. Open since 2013, this popular Amsterdam cafe prides itself in uniting coffee and food in an ‘intimate Scandinavian setting’ directly across from Sarphartipark.
Unlike most Amsterdam cafes, Scandinavian Embassy exclusively sources its beans from Scandinavian roasters like Stockholm’s Drop Coffee and Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective along with Balkan roaster Koppa Coffee out of Belgrade.
The cafe follows this practice to ensure a consistent coffee product. Plus owner Nicolas Castagno is partial to Nordic beans after spending time working for Drop Coffee in Sweden. Once we tasted their product, we wholeheartedly approve of this approach.
Though Scandinavian Embassy’s cappuccinos are excellent, their iced lattes may be the best we’ve tasted anywhere in the world. After speaking to the friendly staff, our best explanation for this latte bliss is that the cafe uses high-quality beans and makes all of their cold drinks from scratch using ultra-fresh milk.
Either way, the iced latte was so good that we ordered a second round.
Beyond coffee, Scandinavian Embassy serves a light menu that fits its Scandinavian theme with dishes like Müsli and Gravlax. We opted to relax in the minimalistically designed cafe while enjoying hot cinnamon buns that were similar to Kannebulla in Sweden and Norway or Korvapuusti in Finland.
We later found out that the buns were baked on-site with flour procured from a local mill. Our only regret is not having room for a second round of cinnamon buns.
Don’t forget your credit card. Scandinavian Embassy doesn’t accept cash payments.
Scandinavian Embassy is located at Sarphatipark 34, 1072 PB Amsterdam, Netherlands.
2. Black Gold Amsterdam
Black Gold’s location near Rembrandt House is appropriate. Back in the 17th century, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn mastered the art of Dutch painting. In the 21st century, Siebrand van Hengel masters the art of third wave coffee in his tiny, music-filled cafe.
Van Hengel welcomed us with friendly curiosity, intrigued by our mutual love of good coffee and eclectic music. During our time at Black Gold, we enjoyed cappuccinos while we listened to a variety of funk, rock, jazz and minimalist tape loops. There’s no corporate soundtrack here – it’s entirely possible to grab a coffee in the morning while listening to the Isley Brothers and have a second in the afternoon while ruminating to John Cage.
Black Gold exclusively used locally sourced White Label beans at the time of our visit. We liked our cappuccinos so much we returned for a repeat performance. Since Black Gold is just a 10-minute walk from the train station, our return visit was as inevitable as rain. FYI, it rains a lot in Amsterdam.
You can buy a record if you dig what you hear. Black Gold sells albums in addition to coffee paraphernalia.
Black Gold Amsterdam is located at Korte Koningsstraat 13 H, 1011 EX Amsterdam, Netherlands.
3. Koffie Academie
Located near Vondelpark, Koffie Academie doesn’t source its beans from local or Scandinavian roasters. Instead, this Amsterdam cafe roasts its own beans just a couple of blocks from the cafe.
Though we were tempted to order a slice of cake or brownie, we were content to sip our cappuccinos in the cafe’s tiny yet comfortable space. Touring Amsterdam can get exhausting, especially when the city is in the midst of a heatwave.
Barista Dara Chey used Indian beans in our crafted cappuccinos. As a testament to Koffie Academie’s roasting skills, Chey’s end result was superior to coffee that we’d previously crafted ourselves with beans that Mindi had bought at a specialty coffee shop in Delhi.
Koffie Academie has good WiFi if you want to connect while you sip your coffee.
Koffie Academie is located at Overtoom 95, 1054 HD Amsterdam, Netherlands.
4. Monks Coffee Roasters
We felt at home at Monks Coffee Roasters when we saw Pasteis de Natas, the popular Portuguese pastry, immediately upon entering the spacious, sunlit space. Choosing just one pastry would have been a tough task had we not been going to dinner immediately following our coffee break. The colorful assortment tempted our senses until our wandering eyes found the coffee menu.
At Monks, friendly baristas craft an assortment of black, white and filter drinks as well as pots of hot tea at this centrally located cafe. We opted for cappuccinos, our typical go-to third wave coffee drink when we’re not in the mood for flat whites.
The team at Monks rotates beans from a ‘changing selection from the world’s finest roasters’, many of which are local in the DAM. The cafe has its own proprietary house coffee blend as well.
Tea is a different story. The cafe sources its tea from Cafe Couture and its Prana Chai from Melbourne.
Buy a bag of Prana Chai or Monks Blend Coffee as an edible Amsterdam souvenir.
Monks Coffee Roasters is located at Bilderdijkstraat 46, 1052 NB Amsterdam, Netherlands.
5. CT Coffee & Coconuts
CT Coffee & Coconuts is the cafe where we’d likely spend many of our days if we lived in Amsterdam’s De Pijp neighborhood. Not only does the airy space remind us of cafes we frequented in Vietnam, but CT Coffee & Coconuts also serves excellent coffee with a free side of internet.
As digital nomads now living in Lisbon, we like to work at cafes where we can order great food and coffee while we work to our hearts’ content. Of all the cafes we visited in Amsterdam, this is the one where we would feel most comfortable working (and drinking coffee) for several hours.
But what about the coffee? CT Coffee & Coconuts sources its beans from local roasters White Label and Friedhuts. They typically have Brazilian, Ethiopian and Rwandan beans that customers can select based on their preference and order.
We drank a cappuccino crafted with Brazilian beans and an icy coconut coffee adorned with an eco-friendly green straw during our first visit. Though we enjoyed both, we opted to order two cappuccinos the second time around. When we return a third time, we’ll likely do the same.
6. Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters
Lot Sixty One’s main location is right by the Foodhallen, Amsterdam’s trendy-as-Brooklyn hall filled with Amsterdam food favorites. Though we made it to the Foodhallen, we somehow missed the cafe. Lucky for us, we made it to Lot Sixty One’s smaller location inside Urban Outfitters not once but twice.
During both visits, barista Nathan Brannan entertained us with tales of his coffee adventures in Manchester and Amsterdam. He also crafted excellent cappuccinos during our first visit.
We opted for cold brews on visit number two to combat the city’s brutally hot weather. Did we mention it was hot during our most recent visit to Amsterdam?
Look out for Lot Sixty One coffee at restaurants around Amsterdam. The company runs a wholesale business in addition to its cafes.
Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters is located at Kinkerstraat 112, 1053 ED Amsterdam, Netherlands. We twice visited their Urban Outfitters outpost at Kalverstraat 31-33, 1012 NX Amsterdam, Netherland.
7. Bocca Coffee
We first heard about Bocca while eating brunch at Betty Blue. When we discovered that Bocca has a sit-down cafe in addition to a wholesale operation, we had to check it out. Its central location made our visit a no-brainer.
Located just blocks from the massive Rijksmuseum, Bocca has ample seating for locals and travelers who want to take a coffee break in the middle of town. A table in the back is reserved for those who want to use laptops while they drink their coffee.
Though we typically order cappuccinos at specialty coffee shops, we couldn’t resist ordering iced lattes at Bocca. Not only did they look good, but we were highly parched after traversing the city in 4o+ degree (Celcius!) weather. The chilled coffee tasted as good as we expected and cooled us down on the hot summer day.
Sign up for a workshop. Bocca School of Coffee offers affordable classes for coffee enthusiasts who want to improve their coffee skills.
Bocca Coffee is located at Kerkstraat 96HS, 1017 GP Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Additional Amsterdam Cafes
Seven specialty coffee shops should keep you caffeinated for a week. If you’re lucky enough to stay in Amsterdam for longer or if your caffeine needs exceed one per day, check out these seven additional third wave coffee shops:
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: August 9, 2019