These are the 4 best coffeebars in Groningen, The Netherlands according to our reporter: 1 - HOLTBAR 2 - MASMAS 3 - KATTENCAFE 4 - BLACK and BLOOM
(Text and images by Kateřina Čížková IN GRONINGEN) Groningen is a university city and what do students need more when they sit reading and writing for the whole day (or recovering from a hangover) than a good strong coffee? Small as it is, Groningen offers surprisingly wide variety of great coffeebars, many of them offering specialty barista coffee and delicious signature drinks. Whether you want to meet a friend for a chat, sit down with a group and laugh loudly, work in a calm place or have an unusual date, there is always a place to do so over a cup of coffee. Here are some tips for the best places.
HOLTBAR concept store and coffeebar Conveniently right opposite to the main university building and library in the historic city centre, there is a minimalistic design shop with great coffee and delicious home made wonder bars. What a perfect and tasty combination when you need fast energy.
The Holtbar is a nice quiet place where you can sit down and work or have a calm chat with a friend while observing countless bikers cycling around. Sip some delicious drink while picking a design minimalistic piece for yourself or as a present.
Coffee based drinks are very good and with any choice you get a small fresh homemade biscuit (the little cinnamon stick won my heart immediately). The seasonal drinks will get you to the right mood (like the big mug of coffee with homemade gingerbread sirup and whipped cream) and the tasty Chai tea latté with honey warms you up in a gloomy day.
In the end of a street full of design shops and cute restaurants there is a coffeebar that may seem inconspicuous from the outside but will embrace you with cosiness once you step in. The ever smiling baristas in the Masmas coffeebar are happy to help you with your choice (or mix a drink based on your special wish) and
will prepare delicious espresso or something bit more hip. The espresso-tonic cocktail is perfectly balanced and will give you the right kick to get some work done. The home-made iced tea will cool you down just as a frapa (try the stroopwafel one, trust me) and mochas with chocolate or caramel are perfect when you want to observe the freezing passers-by behind the huge windows. Masmas is a homey and casual place to have a chat with friends, play one of the games available for you or to grab a random book from a shelf and read it over delicious breakfast. If you prefer some lively place for work then this coffeebar is also the place for you.
On the edge of the historical part of Groningen there is a coffeebar with a clear message on the outside board: "All you need is coffee, cats and cake“ And in the window you can already see the main inhabitants of this place – cats. If you like to enjoy some delicious drink and food while cuddling with furry friends, this is the place to be.
Although most of the time you pay attention to the playfull little kittens running around, jumping at you and at each other, when you go through the menu, you find a a rich variety of drinks and snacks. In Kattencafé I would recommend you to enjoy a mug of delicious tea and some home-made sandwich.
This café is a great place to brighten your day, satisfy your need for cuteness and cuddles, to have an unconventional date or to bring your computer and work while some of the older and calmer cats sleep right next to you.
4. Black & Bloom
The first specialty coffee bar in Groningen was opened in 2012 by barista Gerben Engelkes. The peculiar café offers all the standard coffee based drinks and some that you simply have to try. There is nothing more refreshing than the lemonade made out of a home-made cold brew coffee and tonic, with a splash of lemon and fresh mint. If you need to warm yourself up, try the most fruity filter that shows you all the flavours coffee can have and that goes perfectly with some of the delicious fresh cakes. If you are not in a coffee mood, try some of the special hot chocolate drinks (salted caramel or cinnamon one as a secret tip). The atmosphere in the bar is very relaxed just as the owner himself. Since he really wants you to savour the coffee he carefully prepares for you, there are no notebooks allowed inside. This place is perfect for a nice afternoon with a friend or reading a book while enjoying the specialty coffee. And if you have some questions about your drink or coffee in general, Mr Engelkes seems to be always happy to have a little chat.
OK, NOW, what’s NEXT?
A chat with Mr. Engelkes, owner of coffeebar Black & Bloom – The first specialty coffeebar in Groningen
Here are some questions we asked Mr Engelkes for you: What do you like most about coffee? There are many things that I like about coffee. Coffee is progressive, it never stops developing. New varieties are being found, new brew methods, new machinery, new grinders... all sorts of thing. Also I like the competitions as for instance the Dutch Barista Championship and BrewersCup. I like it when I really can surprise a guest (customers are in the red light district) with all different kinds of flavour that you can find in coffee. I can think of many more reasons but I believe then the interview would be way to long.
What is your favourite drink?
That actually depends on the variety of beans I have in stock. Sometimes I like a nice cappuccino in the morning but sometimes when I have geisha or something similar I like a nice filter.
Why did you decide to have your own coffeebar?
I was a manager in a hotel in Austria when I first came in contact with the ‘caféculture’. I Wanted to specialise myself in an area considering Food & Beverage and then you usually become either a wine professional or a chef. I kept it in my mind when I returned home and during my position in a hotel in the region of Groningen I started to educate myself in coffee. I did some workshops and at one point I had the opportunity to become a franchisee in Groningen with two shops. From january 2008 until august 2011 I had these two shops but I quit the franchise because I wasn’t happy with the way the franchise operated. Since july 2012 I opened Black & Bloom, the first specialty coffee bar in Groningen.
Nowadays there is a big competition among coffeebars, what do you think is neccessary to have a successfull one? I believe that you should always be in development with the shop. Try to seperate yourself from the pack by doing something different then the others and never compromise or conform yourself to another coffee place. Do what you think is best, don't copy/paste anything from another place and try to keep things fresh.
Being a barista is a very social job, you must be dealing with many different kinds of customers. Do you have some funny story? This one still works on a birthdayparty.
When I was working for the franchise I once had a lady in the shop, asking for just a cup of hot water. Since it was in winter and many people were fluish or had a cold, I thought she would make some medicin for herself because I saw a little sachet of something on the table. However, she poured the sachet in the water, started stirring and it was actually instant latte macchiato by Nescafe. Her explanation was that this way, she always had the coffee she wanted as cheap as possible…
Anything you would like to add or say to our readers?
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to decaf. Decaf leads to… suffering. May the Force be with you.