Where To Find The Best Coffee In Berlin

I love coffee. And I love Berlin. Throw the two together and I'm in caffeinated, cultural heaven!

 The Barn Café, Auguststraße

The Barn Café, Auguststraße

Berlin is a vast city and there are now cool, independent third wave coffee shops dotted about in every neighbourhood. Believe it or not, Berlin was late to the party when it came to decent coffee and ten years ago, the scene was very different. The name that has become synonymous with the emergent coffee culture in the city is The Barn, and on my recent trip to Berlin I made it my mission to discover why.

The Barn Berlin Café Kranzler

The Barn now have three spots for coffee in central Berlin, including their own roastery on Schönhauser Allee. Described as "coffee temples" by locals, the original café on Auguststraße and the aforementioned roastery achieved notoriety for their strict policy on pushchairs and laptops (pushchairs just wouldn't fit in the Auguststraße premises, and the ban at the roastery is ostensibly due to the fumes and heat emitted from the roaster - contentious in family-friendly Prenzlauer Berg!). The Barn is not somewhere to come and catch up on your emails - it is a place to enjoy coffee and company. Similarly, you'll notice in Berlin that there aren't as many people walking around with take-out cups of coffee as in other cities. It seems Berliners prefer to actually sit and enjoy their coffee - and quite rightly so, as the perfect latte or flat white should be served at the correct temperature to imbibe straight away! 

Ralf Rüller created The Barn after being inspired by living next to Borough Market in London and visiting Monmouth Coffee for his daily cup of Joe. Upon returning to Berlin, he saw a gap in the market and opened the Auguststraße site with beans originally sourced from Square Mile Coffee Roasters (side note: if you are local to Lincoln, this is the same roastery that supplies Madame Waffle on the High Street). 

The Barn Berlin Roastery

The roastery on Schönhauser Allee followed not long after and their lightly roasted beans are now served in coffee shops globally, from Vancouver to Tokyo and Dubai in between. Their third site, at the iconic Café Kranzler on the bustling Kurfürstendamm, opened in December 2016. I was particularly excited to try this one as I recall walking past the Café Kranzler, with its roof striped like a Campino sweet, many times as a child en route to Berlin Zoo or KaDeWe.

On our recent trip to Berlin, I dragged my husband to each of The Barn sites to compare and contrast in the name of research and to present my findings here. You're welcome!

The Barn Berlin Auguststraße

And my verdict, in a nutshell? Forgive me for seeming hyperbolic, but it truly was the best coffee to have ever graced my tastebuds with its presence. 

Ralf Rüller's approach to coffee has much in common with the slow food movement philosophy: "it is one of our principles to treasure the value chain from crop to cup", is proudly stated on his website. Perhaps this is what makes it taste so good? Knowing the provenance and care that has gone into your humble coffee? Certainly, Rüller is obsessed with detail, and this manifests not just in the cafés but in every sip of coffee itself. 

The Barn Berlin

Beans are sustainably sourced from fully traceable micro-farms and then lightly roasted in small batches at their premises on Schönhauser Allee. The Barn prides itself on only using single-origin beans - never blends - and offers multiple brewing methods (AeroPress, woodneck, V60 and syphon). Even the water is filtered through a reverse osmosis system, removing chlorine and other elements from the water and thereby enhancing the overall balance of the coffee.

The Barn Berlin Lattes

Coffee is brewed up every morning and tasted by the baristas before opening for the day. This way, they are able to describe the different tasting notes to the discerning customers. Nothing is left to chance and everything is measured at The Barn. The grind setting, the TDS (total dissolved solids), temperatures... you name it, it is measured. For espresso-based milk drinks, temperature is especially important. Milk is not steamed above 60 degrees for a latte, to preserve the sweetness of the organic milk. Flat whites and cappuccinos demand a temperature of 55 degrees. Filter coffees are served black and don't even ask about soy milk! Note that if you're after sugar, it's hidden away in the 'shame corner'. 

The Barn Café, Auguststraße 58 - MITTE - {Mon-Fri 0800-1800; Sat & Sun 1000-1800}

 
The Barn Café Berlin
The Barn Café Berlin Auguststraße

The atmosphere here feels much like when you're in the kitchen at a busy house party - ie, where the action and fun really happens. It is intimate, with only a few tables and a strict no laptop policy. There is no ambient music playing, and no wifi. The focus is purely on coffee. There's a small range of sandwiches, pastries and cakes on offer - I opted for the Pastel de Nata with my coffee and it was to die for.

The Barn Berlin Menu

The Barn Roastery, Schönhauser Allee 8 - PRENZLAUER BERG - {Mon-Fri 0830-1800; Sat & Sun 1000-1800}

 

Housed in a former pharmacy with huge west-facing windows, the roastery is much bigger than the Auguststraße café, but still manages to remain intimate, with the giant Probat roaster sitting proudly at the back of the shop. There's no big squishy sofas here - everyone is squeezed onto benches or wooden chairs, or perched atop coffee sacks. The L shaped bar is pretty impressive, all reclaimed wood and coffee scientists hard at work. You can find a small range of sandwiches and the cakes are authentically German, baked to the recipe of Rüller's mother.

 The Barn Roastery, Schönhauser Allee

The Barn Roastery, Schönhauser Allee

As I mentioned earlier, there is a deliberate no buggy policy here {as is evidenced by the concrete bollard in the doorway, if you thought you'd try your luck anyway!}. I'm told that contrary to popular belief, children (minus stroller) are welcome at the roastery. Their parents are simply, and respectfully, asked to keep an eye on them. 

Laptop restrictions apply at this site, too. It's not really a space for coworking or business meetings, in spite of the digital nomads that frequent it. 

Workshops are offered alongside free cupping sessions on Saturdays.

The Barn at Café Kranzler, Kurfürstendamm - CHARLOTTENBURG - {Mon-Sun 1000-2000 in summer; Mon-Sun 1000-1800 in winter}

 

This is the most recent, and the most relaxed, of The Barn sites. Situated in the iconic rotunda of the Café Kranzler with its red and white striped awning, it offers an oasis of peace amidst the bustle of Berlin's busiest boulevard, the Ku'damm. There were plenty of children when we visited (including pushchairs!) and people tapping away on keyboards and taking advantage of the free wifi. Light jazz music was playing and although the focus is still definitely on the coffee, it had a much more convivial atmosphere than the other sites. Fresh waffles are made to order and there's a 360 degree panorama of the streets below from the window seats.

 The Barn at Café Kranzler

The Barn at Café Kranzler

The Barn Berlin

The Barn has excelled at leading the third wave coffee revolution in Berlin. Out of the three sites, my favourite coffee was at their café on Auguststraße and that was probably my favourite space to sit and actually savour the coffee, too. The roastery is well worth a trip if you're in the vicinity of Alexanderplatz and want to rest your weary feet for half an hour or so. And, if you happen to be in West Berlin, avoid the generic chains and other joints pushing dark-roast coffee and go and check out The Barn at Café Kranzler. Yes, you have to walk through (or around!) the giant Superdry store to gain access, but I promise you won't be disappointed!

Carly xo


Enjoy this post? Check out my other German city guides: Berlin, Nuremberg and Hamburg!



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WHERE TO FIND THE BEST COFFEE IN BERLIN