Best Cafés and Coffee Houses

Best Cafés and Coffee Houses, Berlin, Germany (D)

In this guide you will be taken around the twenty best cafés in Berlin. Within them can be found a world that dosen’t require identification or dress-code, or the complications of elongated menus, but simply good coffee, with a drop of Berlin’s unique and enduring character.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Best Cafés and Coffee Houses
Guide Location: Germany » Berlin
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (D))
# of Attractions: 20
Author: Bertie Digby Alexander Lawson
Author Bio: I'm Bertie from Britain. I am an English Literature graduate from the University of Liverpool, now living in Berlin. I love exploring new places and appreciating high and scruffy culture! I like reading and writing, walking and watching, and doing it all in exciting places. I enjoy mornings with coffee and newspapers, afternoons in a sunny beer garden, and evenings enjoying wine and cheese and engaging conversation.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Schwarzes Café
  • The Barn
  • Vux
  • Matilda
  • Impala Coffee
  • Concierge Coffee
  • Grreen Stuff
  • Il Milanese del Tacco
  • Wahrhaft Nahrhaft
  • Sing Blackbird
  • Cupcake Berlin
  • 3 Schwestern
  • Lois
  • Café Aroma
  • Tiki Heart Café and Shop
  • Crêpes Culture
  • Bierhimmel
  • Handbestand
  • Café Kranzler
  • Vivo
Schwarzes Café

1) Schwarzes Café

At any hour, every queer fish of Charlottenburg can find sanctuary, in Schwarzes Café. Originally created by West Berlin anarchists, this café in Charlottenburg is open 24 hours a day (save for a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon), welcoming students, workers, clubbers, vagrants and all other creatures of the night. There is an extensive drinks list, and the food is of a high quality and a delivered in generous portions. At night, candles are lit and the place becomes a little gothic; the cheery service can never quite break through the eerie atmosphere that one is sitting in the graveyard of lost decadence. Upstairs has the look of a plush sitting room after a generation of disrepair and crumble, imbuing the café with the feel of Dracula’s lost dining room, or an Edwardian set for the Rocky Horror Show. With each creak of the stairs one expects to see the ragged appearance of the Steppenwolf emerge from the shadows. Undoubtedly the best café in Berlin.
The Barn

2) The Barn

In arty Mitte, one can find the cleanest and coolest ‘barn’ in the city, and sample some of the best coffee Berlin offers. The Barn say of themselves: ‘Our philosophy is to source and roast some of the best coffees available in the world. We work with sustainability and traceability in mind and try to deliver quality coffees that best represent their origin and natural flavours.’ There is no doubt when you enter that coffee brewing is serious business here. The actual café is small, so I would recommend taking your coffee to go – as you look down into your swirling coffee and wonder how there can be so many shades of black – and take a walk around beautiful Mitte, the ivy cascading down old houses like Jurassic waterfalls. With coffee of this quality, you won’t worry about how uncool the casual fashionistas make you feel, as they ride past on their bicycles, and you can ignore, sipping contentedly, the beautiful children in cool clothes who look out at you with upturned noses, from their parents’ galleries.

3) Vux

Hidden in the beautiful backstreets of Karl-Marx Allee, Vux offers a feast of good vegan food and hot drinks. Vux is very white inside, with faints photo-size painting jigsawing their way up the wall, so you feel like this place might disappear into the Berlin wind at the next great gush. This would be a tragedy. This café offers an assortment of homemade cakes, cookies, cupcakes and waffles, accompanied by hot fruit and soy cream. The coffee is fair-trade, as is the organic hot chocolate, recommended to be accompanied with homemade lavender syrup or a touch of chili. Vux offer a superb vegan, all-you-can-eat, brunch for 10€ on Sundays, and what could be nicer than after gorging yourself here for a few hours, ordering a coffee to go and taking a lazy walk into Lessinghöhe or down Thomastraße through the trees of sleepy Neukölln.

4) Matilda

Matilda, in 70s style, sits in Kreuzberg, and has that ‘cool-because-I’m-not-cool-feel.’ Adorned with lampshades and big fans, blooming white flowers and an old stereo player, Matilda offers alcoholic drinks and substantial food as well as good coffee. Afternoon tea can be found on the menu, as can a variety of breakfasts, including the fabulous ‘Käse Frühstück’. This café offers sanctuary and nourishment to those who have woken at any time, or perhaps have not slept at all. With pastel autumnal colours, and soft rock playing, Matilda is a relaxing retreat that welcomes all, toddlers and hipsters, clubers and mothers.
Impala Coffee

5) Impala Coffee

One of three in Berlin, at the busy crossroads of Ebenswalder Bahnhof, Impala Coffee has the feel of a bustling postal office, or shipping burro, receiving and sending dispatches amidst the crates and tables and sacks. There is great efficiently behind the bar from the pretty girls take your order of coffee from Ethiopa, or Columbia, or Brazil, and perhaps one of the great selections of pasties. Impala Coffee reminds me of a local New York coffee house, the type Starbucks now attempts to recreate with the local noticeboard and flyers offering babysitting services and one-on-one German lessons. As you shuffle past these with your coffee from one far-flung corner of the world and large slab of gooey banana bread, you can find your way on to one of the few chairs or sofa sitting outside facing the station. Settling down next to your neighbour, sharing a cushion, you may look over his arm to read Die Welt and his eyes pass over your copy of Le Monde spread out over your knees, and you can sip your coffee contentedly, as the pages rustle and flap in the wind, and a train rolls by.
Concierge Coffee

6) Concierge Coffee

Here we have only the barebones of what a café is; coffee, bricks and a barrister. And it is all the better for is sparseness, tucked away in a beautiful part of Kreuzberg, next to the canal and branching trees and cobbled streets branching off Kottbusser Straße. Taking a turning into what appears to be a courtyard surrounded only by offices, you will spot the bright white sign ‘Concierge Coffee’ and following this down the passageway, you will see - if you are heading to the café in the early evening of a winter night, as I would recommend - light coming out of a hole in the wall. Walking further in, through this hole you will see a plate of chocolate flapjacks, sitting in front of a great coffee machine worked by a grandly moustachioed barista, who meets your gaze with stern eyes, and then surprises you with his courtesy and American accent when, inside, you make your order. Here there are no tables, and not much space for many people, but still they come, to squat upon the one bench, or lean against the lone shelf. There is a fridge offering granola and yoghurt, but it is enough to be here, with the barrister, the bricks, and the coffee, and need no more.
Grreen Stuff

7) Grreen Stuff

Located in Neukölln on the edge of Richardplatz, Grreen Stuff - café and shop - can easily be missed, its entrance is so understated. Once located, in the café you can have you pick of some fantastic ‘Demeter’ organic ice cream and a wide selection of vegan cakes, pies and drinks. Don’t be fooled by the sparse showing of produce at the counter, there is often something cooling in the fridge or hiding in the cupboard, that can be brought out and eaten at a reasonable price. The service is exceptionally friendly and the food has a full-bodied heartiness that satisfies. A little vegan ginger star may be placed next to your coffee, as you sit outside and gaze over the quaint Richardplatz, which I find always brightens the experience. In addition, the shop, though expensive, is a great way to inject some health into your kitchen.
Il Milanese del Tacco

8) Il Milanese del Tacco

To be found unexpectedly around a corner in Wedding not far from Pankstraße, is Il Milonesese del Tacco, a café that doubles as a wine bistro, as well as supporting the proliferation of good art and photography. Small, like the corner of a cellar, and stacked to the ceiling with wine bottles, Il Milanese del Tacco has a refinery and elegance you would expect to find in Paris or London. There are only a couple of tables inside, a little space at the window, and some seating outside and so the place seems instantly cosy and familiar once you have sat down for only a few minutes. Huddling inside on a cold day, the place has the sense of a coveted, finely stacked hideout, a sanctuary from the wind and snow of Berlin’s winter frost. On a summer morning, sitting outside this little wonder with a coffee is bliss, or later perhaps, enjoying a bottle of rosé.
Wahrhaft Nahrhaft

9) Wahrhaft Nahrhaft

One of the odder cafes on this guide, Wahrhaft Nahrhaft can be found on a windswept corner of Friedrichshain, offering an atmosphere of excess and revelry. Inside, it looks like a dressing-up box has been tipped over an elegant sitting room; Bacchus has taken over here, and presents the tumbled chaos of the inside of a jack-in-the-box. The food is all homemade, offering bagels, salads, soups, ‘sinful’ cakes and other baked goodies. They have freshly squeezed juices and speciality coffees for all season. It’s colourful and vibrant interior matches the buzz and excitement of Warchauerstraße and the maze of backstreets in Friedrichshain. On a fine Autumn afternoon, sitting outside is glorious, even if the wind picks up, blowing over tables that are strewn with the art sections of Berliner Morgenpost trapped under flower pots, and plates presenting only a guilty fork and the crumbs of a devoured piece of pie.
Sing Blackbird

10) Sing Blackbird

Inside this café, you feel like you are in a little clearing in an English country wood, with oaks and chestnuts crawling up the decorated walls. Or perhaps you are in the nest of a magpie, with glittering wonders dotted about the place. Sing Blackbird offers ‘Vintage Coffee and Clothes’ spanning from the 50s to the 90s, and in the summer they put on an outdoor flea market; they also hold movie nights and exhibitions. Doubling as a second hand shop, this place is like a little treasure-trove of cotton and wool, warming up for the winter, and displayed in a rainbow of colour against the wall. The coffee is good, and in a fridge next to the counter are collected an assortment of colourful drinks created by ‘Daily Dose’. These ‘cold press juices’ are unique in Berlin in that unlike other fruit and vegetable drinks, no air has been pressed into the vegetables when extracting the juice. This amplifies and speeds up their vitalising effects upon the body. Sing Blackbird offer ‘Cleanse’, ‘Detox’ and ‘Restore’, amongst others, made from citrus fruits, vegetables and nuts. These drinks are as bright as the clothes, making this café feel like a magpie’s nest, with glittering wonders dotted about the place.
Cupcake Berlin

11) Cupcake Berlin

This café is small and the bright pink signature shop header may be missed due to the crowd bustling outside of it. Once you have squeezed and elbowed your way inside, you will find, what appeared to me, an old-fashioned sweet shop, in the vein of the type that Billy in Roald Dahl’s The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me dreams of; or perhaps the type that Willie Wonka may have interned at in his teenage years. The sweetness of this café is overpowering as you crane your neck to get a glance at the counter where you see a wide selection of bright and delicately crafter cupcakes. As you queue – still queuing! – you can watch as cupcakes are handed over to customers, wrapped in little holders, or upon napkins, or in boxes. You watch as they are caressed by trembling fingers, cherished, and loved, before stuffed into mouths. Eventually you are served by a great bearded Berliner who smiles generously at you as you point at your choice. Perhaps ‘The King’, shining and dark with a velvety smooth twist with his Elvis quiff, and peanut butter and banana innards; or perhaps the Peppermint Party, chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream; or the Cookies'n'Cream Schokoladen Cake with Oreo buttercream; or the Sweet Jane, or the Raspberry Beret! And there are more. Suffice to say, the cakes are worth the queue.
3 Schwestern

12) 3 Schwestern

This café-come-restaurant is to be found inside the great Bethanien in Mariannenplatz, Kreuzberg, which has had a variety of functions in the past, but now hosts music classes, and art exhibitions, as well as the twelfth best café in Berlin. The building should be approached from the Orianburger side, so you can walk through the trees, best on a mild summer evening. Inside, the place has the feel of an old WW1 hospital, and you half expect to see wounded soldiers and tender nurses chattering beside beds. Down long corridors, that give the feeling of a gothic high school, you keep your ears cocked for the sounds of Buffy slaying vampires, and as your thirst for coffee increases, you come across 3 Schwestern, finding yourself in the Room of Requirement, at Hogwarts. You are likely to be greeted by a selection of polite and sincere gentlemen. You are guided through the giant room to a table that is suitable, and think: is this an old banqueting hall? A gym? A theatre? A chapel? Is this just a café? No, to the last, 3 Schwestern is also a restaurant, and has a spectacularly large bar, behind which three impeccably dressed grown men stand, ready at the slightest gesture or nod to whisk to your side, often with the desired article itself already in their hands, without words having to be passed at all, save for perhaps, on their part, a sharp, crisp, and quite, ‘schön?’

13) Lois

Small and classy, whereas Matilda might give you a bashful smile, Lois will raise only elegant eyebrow and smirk. Beautiful and deadly, the ivy that covers her walls outside is like the Circes’ den, and the smell of coffee and biscuits that comes from inside is enough to lure a lurking Hansel and Grettel, pressing their noses up against the glass before they are ushered inside. On the bar, Lois has placed a slender red flower, sleek and magnificent, like that of Sleeping Beauty. Everything is slight and possesses an elegance and refinery. The skin of a cow acts as a rug on the floor, lying under tables so small that when laying out your newspaper you create a tablecloth. If you come at the right time – only an exclusive few know what time that is – there are some exotic sandwiches on offer, including Black Forest Ham - (skewed and skinned by Lois herself one might imagine). Or indeed, as you sit and drink and pass the day in utter contentment, unable to leave this seductive little spot, you can be further sweetened with delicacies such as cheese or plum cake.
Café Aroma

14) Café Aroma

A little piece of Italy in Berlin. I would recommend, if the weather is fine, a walk to Café Aroma over the Monument Bridge with view of Potsdamer Platz, and then passing St Matthew’s cemetery where the Brothers Grimm lie. The café is also a restaurant, offering traditional Italian cuisine, in accordance with the rhythm of the season, and an extensive wine cellar. The suitably impressive proprietor is particularly pleasing, billowing up to you to take your order, proudly laying it out in front of you, contently watching you sip, and then later graciously and elaborately accepting your tip. Outside, and by the bar, where the coffee drinkers sit, it really does feel like a place where one should be discussing art. In its deep Autumnal colours the café inspires good conversation and stimulating thought. This is a café for celebration, and discussing Dante into the night! A café for reclining late into the evening as a Tuscan sun sets over Berlin, and remaining there until the wind blows too strong or the rain begins to fall.
Tiki Heart Café and Shop

15) Tiki Heart Café and Shop

Certainly this is one of the oddest cafes in Berlin. I am unsure where to begin. Situated on the busy Wiener Straße in Kreuzberg, Tiki Heart is a blinking bright light to backpackers and travellers, offering breakfast until 5 o’clock, alongside cocktails and an extensive selection of beefy burgers. Entering you have found yourself on a Hawaiian beach, one full with deckchairs and umbrellas, and yet at the same time in the heart of Native America, or perhaps somewhere along the Inca Trail? Who knows? … and who cares! It’s wonderful wherever you are. Cheeky American teenage rock plays in the background and you are encouraged to give up inhibitions and surrender to your repressed love of kitsch. With your coffee you can recline upon a deckchair and look out at the newspapers and Shrek figurines, and flowers, masks and sombreros and you may feel the desire to jump up and hopping on one leg cry out ‘hoop-diddly-whoop and Hoo-Ray Henry!’ just to join in the madness of this place.
Crêpes Culture

16) Crêpes Culture

On a Sunday in Berlin there are few things that are more popular than going down to a good flee market and exploring the stock, some of the best of which are to be found in Warschauerstraße, Friedrichshain. When bargained-out, you can slink away from the noise and bustle to Crêpes Culture, on Simplonstraße just a couple of streets away. The staff here are particular friendly and chatter away as they make the crêpes in front of you, served square on plates with elegance and panache. Crêpes Culture offer classic crêpes with chocolate spread, or savoury and extravagant with French and Spanish goat cheese and pine nuts, or a heap of tomato, chicken and cheese. They also offer waffles, cakes, coffees, teas and exquisite organic lemonade. There is also a selection of quiches if you are in the mood for something more substantial. However, to put it simply, if you love a crêpe, then you will love Crêpes Culture.

17) Bierhimmel

Twenty years ago, this café opened its doors for the first time, attracting odd and vibrant customers. It became a cult pub for those around Oranienstraße and greater Kreuzberg. After a sudden closure, Bierhimmel was reopened in 2010 and now welcomes all from morning to evening, with coffee and plenty of good cake, given pride of place next to the Fassbier, the graffiti outside and in the toilets giving the place an effortless smack of ‘cool. There are also quiche and wraps, as well as an extensive cocktail list. Under the splendid chandelier you can sit and enjoy your cake and coffee, or quiche, or cocktail, and later venture into the raucherraum, or out to the candled tables outside, on the edge of the famous Oranienstraße.

18) Handbestand

Handbestand is both café and bookshop with gothic Teutonic lights above, hanging above stacks of great companions to the Brothers Grimm. Stone heads watch you as you find your way through the stacks of books, shuffling dust and tottering piles, around suitably gruff looking customers and staff. Offering film nights, and talks, exhibitions, round tables, viewings, and music …. What can’t be found in this little grotto? After your coffee and read, or perhaps with a takeaway and a purchase stuffed safely into your pocket, a walk behind the café is recommendable, down Ruppienstraße, especially beautiful in the evening when the church bells ringing.
Café Kranzler

19) Café Kranzler

Any guide of cafes in Berlin must at least have a look at Kranzler. Today, unfortunately there is little left of the original Kranzler, opened in 1834 by the Austiran Johann Georg Kranzler on Unter den Linden. This original Kranzler offered a sun-terrace, ice-cream parlour and a smokers' room, therefore built up the reputation of being one of the finest cafes in Berlin. A second Café Kranzler was then opening in its present location, in the space of the old infamous Café des Westens, café of artists and rebels. In the heart of Charlottenburg, looking over a busy cross roads, today’s Café Kranzler shines above all, looking fantastic and proud, its flamboyant and fabulous red roof that is reflected on the heads of many of its waitresses. These at Kranzler are proud of Kranzler, defiantly printing their name on their napkins and matchboxes in the trademark, bold red. Inside the café you must attempt to sit out on the terrace so that you can look down at the chaos of lights and shopping bags. Or if it is raining, get a seat inside next to the window, and imagine that you are in a lighthouse on a stormy evening, and watch the carnage rage below.

20) Vivo

An ersatz entry to this list, but a worthy one nonetheless. Vivo is a small little hut of a café in Wittenburgerplatz, sat right in front of the grand doorway to the great KaDeWe shopping centre, one of the most awe-inspiring and iconic buildings of Berlin. The ‘Kaufhaus des Westerns’ – the Department Store of the West – was originally founded in 1905 by Adolf Jandorf, opening two years later and today is the largest department store in Europe, save for Harrods in London, and attracts 40,000 to 50,000 visitors every day. As Paris never looks so good from inside the Eiffel Tower, so this infamous giant of shopping should be viewed from a comfortable seat in Vivo. From this café, you can view a selection of their striking widow displays, and gaze upon the great doors to the kingdom within, watching the wretched and exhausted customers emerge. This is best experienced at dusk, on a comfortable red chair, and munching on a slice of Vivo’s best pizza.

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