The Constant Coffee Quest
Sydney-siders can be – with numerous exceptions – a snobby breed and noses are particularly skyward when it comes to the issue of coffee. Perhaps not on par with the noses of Melbournians who, with the city’s Italian history, has excellent reason to be as thingy as they are about their coffee, but still, relatively high. And, to be fair, it’s with good reason. Sydney produces some excellent coffee and every Sydney-sider and their dog consume enormous amounts of it.
When I first moved to Germany, I noticed a national predilection for the humble pot of filter coffee. Indeed, filter coffee seemed to be a household and workplace stalwart. I remember way back when, on my second or so visit to Kiel, we stopped by a bakery to get coffee before driving to the beach. The coffee came in enormous urns from which one pumped out their coffee. Coffee cream was added in place of milk. It wasn’t good. I told SG. He gave me a look and we continued on our way, urn coffee burning our hands.
Coffee in cafes proved to be a slight upping of the ante with many using those big, shiny silver WMF machines and producing their lattes with a press of the button. Then adding a straw, which to this day, I do not understand. Nevertheless. These button-press coffees were a steep step up from filter pots and my coffee-snob Sydney palette* became accustomed to their generic milkiness. Of course, burrowing into the cities in which I lived bore fruit in the form of a cafe or two that made real coffee – but still, I harped on and on about the general German indifference to a good, non-filter cup. And SG continued to give me a weary look.
Then he went to Australia. Then he drank coffee in Sydney and Melbourne (and later in Wellington, New Zealand, a city similarly possessed of a real coffee culture). Then suddenly he could no longer pump filtered coffee from an urn and think it okay. He could no longer accept the button-press latte as adequate. His own palette formed a snobby attitude, one that led to an all but total dismissal of coffee as he had once known it, and he joined me in my quest for good stuff. He finally understood what I was, albeit tediously, banging on about.
After moving here from the cuisine wilderness that was small town Bavaria (although one couldn’t throw a pebble without hitting good schnitzel) we set about looking for Kiel’s best coffee. Home of Campus Suite, a cafe started by Kiel University students that has since expanded to several other north-German cities and even down to Vienna, there is a quiet but solid coffee buzz in this city. Campus Suite coffee isn’t particularly amazing, but its success speaks to a city-wide thirst for more than filter. More than the shiny WMF machine. Which gives coffee-hunters like myself, great hope.
Our list of ‘Kiel’s Best Coffee’ is a fluid, ever-changing beast. At first, Holtenauerstraße’s Tragbar held the top spot. Then Emmaplus joined it.
Then I discovered the coffee bike, Loppokaffeeexpress, which cycles around to the weekly markets and sells flat whites and ANZAC biscuits (leading me to suspect an Aussie connection …) and decided it had the top spot.
And then today we went on a classic weekend stroll and decided today was a good day to pop into a little shop we had heard murmurs about, Heyck’s Kaffee und Tee. This little hole in the wall shop, one of the oldest businesses in Kiel, is suitably tucked away down an alley in the middle of the city and is the real deal. A coffee roaster and tea specialty store, it has all the coffees and teas one can imagine – around 350 tea and 50 coffee varieties – crammed into a little old shop, along with a million mugs which make the mug collector in me sing. (I abstained from purchasing a mug if only because I have actually run out of room to store and display them.)
In Heyck’s, it is possible to peruse the very long coffee bean menu and select the bean you want ground into your coffee. I went for some sort of orange and chocolate aroma bean, which added the lightest touch of the jaffa to my latte. In SG’s eyes, the Best Coffee in Kiel has been found. He proclaimed it to be on par with Sydney, sang its strength and body many praises. In my eyes, Loppokaffeeexpress has been joined at the top. In any case, we are reaching some sort of spoilt for choice level, which is a wonderful thing when it comes to food, wine, and, natürlich, coffee.
Postscript; honourable mention must go to Peaberries, which also roasts up a quality drop.
*Grain of salt necessary. We have a Senseo at home, and I have been known to frequent Starbucks and the like when the options are limited. So, you know, not too snobby.