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Along with great restaurants and happening bars, Vilnius has a thriving specialty coffee scene that rivals the Baltic capitals of Riga and Tallinn as well as larger European cities like Budapest and our home city of Lisbon.
Like most Northeastern Europeans, Lithuanians love kavos (coffee) almost as much as their Scandinavian neighbors. As we’ve discovered through our travels, love of great coffee is a trend in the growing specialty coffee barista belt that stretches from Amsterdam, Hamburg and much of Scandinavia all the way to Russia. Surprise! Russia has grown into an artisanal coffee hotspot.
In Vilnius, cafes run the gamut from intimate and cozy to sleek and modern. Some are located in the heart of Old Town while others are a bit off the tourist trail. But the best ones have one thing in common – expertly prepared specialty coffee.
Our Favorite Vilnius Cafes for Specialty Coffee
Since specialty coffee is our jam, we plunged ourselves in the Vilnius specialty coffee scene as soon as we arrived in the charming capital of Lithuania. One cafe quickly became two and, before we knew it, we had visited more than a half dozen Vilnius cafes.
We researched the best Vilnius coffee shops prior to our visit but, as always, tasting is believing. What some people call specialty coffee can sometimes be gussied-up commodity swill. Luckily, we did not experience this type of bait-and-switch in Vilnius.
Based on our advance research and on-the-ground drinking, these are our favorite cafes that serve specialty coffee in Vilnius:
Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories
A proponent of the slow coffee movement, Emanuelis Ryklys follows a straight path at Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories, our pick for the best cafe in Vilnius. The intense micro-roaster started roasting beans in 2011 and opened the city’s most innovative cafe four years later.
Ryklys only offers filtered coffee at his sparsely decorated cafe. You won’t find flat whites, cappuccinos or other espresso-based drinks here. Ryklys is so obsessed about his coffee that he only uses cotton filters and non-disposable, terracotta cups.
During our visit, we choose from freshly-roasted single-origin beans from Colombia, Kenya and Yemen. On other days, Ryklys has beans from countries like Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Guatamala, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Papa New Guinea and Rwanda.
Visiting Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories takes a bit of planning and effort. The cafe is a short walk from Old Town and is only open three days each week.
Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories is located at Šaltinių g. 20, Vilnius 03213, Lithuania.
StrangeLove Coffee Co.
The first things that stands out about StrangeLove is its parkside Old Town location near the Vilnius Cathedral. Not only is the location convenient, but it also has a sprawling outdoor space ideal for chilling at a table, on a bench or atop a beanbag just a step away from Baltic greenery.
Inside the two-story cafe, the atmosphere is a tad more formal with a contemporary downstairs with Scandinavian decor and an upstairs fireplace. More importantly, at least for specialty coffee fans like us, inside is where baristas roast global beans before transforming them into the liquid elixir we adore.
StrangeLove separates its coffee into three categories – black, white and iced, with additional beverages like juice and cocktails on separate lists. Drink options include standard flat whites and filtered coffee as well as unique concoctions like the cafe’s creative espresso ‘rose’ made with espresso and sparkling rose lemonade.
StrangeLove Coffee Co. is located at B. Radvilaitės g. 6B, Vilnius 01143, Lithuania.
Love is the beginning of everything.
Elska Coffee shows this love when they purchase packets of Brazilian and Ethiopian beans from Andrito Coffee Roastery, a Latvian roaster. Not only does this sourcing approach ensure a traceable ‘coffee path’ but it also provides a level of quality that travels from those global beans to the cafe’s cups.
Following the cafe’s neon sign’s advice, we didn’t ask why and instead asked what what to order during our two visits. Friendly baristas answered our query by introducing us to a menu filled with specialty coffee standards, elevated cafe fare and vegan desserts prepared without added sugar.
Elska offers two distinct cafe experiences. The inside space is stylishly filled with eclectic design elements, art magazine and cozy corners while the expansive outside terrace provides fresh views and even fresher air.
Elska Coffee is located at Pamėnkalnio g. 1, Vilnius 01116, Lithuania.
Keeping to theme, the team at Italala Caffè sources lightly roasted beans from Ditta Artigianale, an independent Italian roastery in Florence. Although brewing options include Italian espresso drinks, coffee preparation is where the Lithuanian cafe diverges from Italian coffee traditions.
Not only do Italala’s baristas craft cappuccinos and flat whites, but they also prepare filtered coffee using modern pour over methods. Extraction tools include Aeropress, V60 and Chemex as well as the locally invented BRO (see above).
Specialty coffee haters will find plenty to whet their whistles at Italala Caffè. Options include lavender lattes, dirty matchas, milkshakes and coffee cocktails. If it’s the end of the day, you may want to join them by ordering an Italian spritz or negroni.
Italala Caffè is located at Vokiečių g. 1, Vilnius 01130, Lithuania.
Summer time means ice cream time at Coffee1. Despite its caffeine-focused moniker, this Vilnius cafe creates a rainbow of ice cream flavors like blueberry, mango and mint that baristas serves along with the cafe’s coffee drinks.
With a modern bean selection that included Brazilian beans roasted in Kaunas on the day of our visit, Coffee1 exudes a vibe that’s more cozy than sleek. Tables line the sidewalk, offering a front-row view to the cafe’s artsy Užupis neighborhood.
Since we wandered into Coffee1 right after eating lunch, we passed on ordering desserts like ice cream, lazy cake and chocolate salami. We also skipped fruit-topped yogurt and avocado toast.
Instead, we sipped on cappuccinos served with a mug of coarse brown sugar while we watched an eclectic crowd stroll by our sidewalk table. Next time, we’re definitely trying the ice cream too.
Coffee1 is located at Užupio g. 9, Vilnius 01201, Lithuania.
Taste Map Coffee Roasters
Taste Map spoke to us before we walked through the door. Not only are we avid specialty coffee drinkers, but we have an affinity for maps and things that tastes good.
With a focus on flavor and diversity, this Vilnius cafe sources and roasts a range of beans from countries around the world. These countries include Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda and Uganda.
Taste Map started out as a roastery when third wave coffee was relatively new to Vilnius. In addition to roasting, Taste Map has expanded beyond roasting with full-service cafes and a collection of coffee championship trophies won in Lithuania and beyond.
We visited two Taste Map cafes during our week in Vilnius – the main location in Old Town and the Sapiegos Park cafe. Both locations serve coffee drinks that showcase AeroPress and barista skills that earned those trophies.
Taste Map Coffee Roasters has two locations in Vilnius.
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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.
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