Category Archives: Coffee

Paris Restaurant and Coffee Rankings

Restaurants

Here’s my rankings of the restaurants I ate in based on overall enjoyment considering food, service, price.

L’Arpege — Lunch surprise menu – by far the most memorable meal and the most fun I’ve had dining which is surprisingly since I usually don’t find tasting menus fun. If you have time for a 3 hour weekday lunch, highly recommended.

Le 6 Paul Bert — this is quintessential French cooking that’s really hard to find elsewhere. Get the chef’s menu (2 seafood, 1 meat, 1 dessert). It’s really “simple” cooking, but that’s because the cooks let the ingredients do all the talking.

Le Servan — exactly what I think a neo-bistro should be: cozy and cheery, charming Levha sisters, market driven ingredients with serious novelty. A la carte daily menu so you still have choices. The neo-bistro to go to.

Yam’Tcha — not as unique as I was expecting given it’s French-Chinese, but many of the best dishes I had in Paris were here. Tea pairing not worth it.

L’Avant Comptoir — This place is a must visit because it’s really unique to Paris. Really crowded, so much going on, overwhelming, absurdly good quality/price ratio. They also have the largest selection of natural wines I’ve encountered. Try to go when Eric is there; he has really good recommendations.

Les Chouettes — really well done classic French at reasonable prices. Feels like a high-class hotel but it’s actually not pretentious. My go-to for traditional French food.

Le Chateaubriand — it’s now too hyped and too expensive an experiment. Food was all cooked well but given the wealth of other neo-bistros now around, the food wasn’t novel enough to make it a must-visit. The only time I found wine super memorable — best Pinot Noir I’ve ever drunk.

Clamato — open Sunday, seafood tapas.

Chez Denise — If you want a really classic bistro from the old days, go here. Open 24 hrs on weekdays so good for late nights.

Juveniles — I thought Les Chouettes did classic French better. Try the menu of the day.

 

The quality of the wine is the most impressive thing about dining in Paris/France. And there’s definitely more “good food” in Paris than anywhere else, and most of it is in really casual environments which I think is hard to find elsewhere. But in terms of novelty and eye-openers, my opinion from the trip was that the neo-bistro scene is still catching up to places like New York or Copenhagen.


 

Coffee

This site is very good for Paris coffee information. I had a double espresso at each place (except L’Arbe). Here’s my rankings.

1. Loustic — good single origin espresso of the week (Belgian roaster Caffè Nation), not too sour like most. Has wifi and room in the back. The owner was training a cute barista during the morning off hours. He’s super obsessed with details, which I approve of.

1. KB CaféShop (formerly Kooka Boora) — my other favorite espresso (Five Elephant roaster), lots of crema. No wifi on weekends (probably for the better), might get crowded during prime tourist hours. It’s on a nice corner of Rue de Martyrs with an impressive little market on Sunday morning.

3. Ten Belles — Belleville Brulerie/Bodybuilder blend of Costa Rican beans. Good flavors, just a hint of sour. No wifi, small space but not cramped. Everything run by one woman when I was there.

3. Boot Café — a darker blend (Café Lomi’s Bordeaux blend), lots of crema. Similar to KB in taste. Very cramped, no wifi, run by single woman.

5. Holybelly — also Belleville/Bodybuilder, slightly sour but maybe that’s just the beans. Has wifi. Seems this place is known for brunch and has crazy lines if you go in peak hours.

6. L’Arbe à Café — 3€ for a single shot of single origin Ethiopia Yergacheffe so it’s quite expensive. The shot was prepared with care and did taste good. This place is more for selling beans so there’s no sitting room and inconvenient hours.

7. Espressamente Illy — I went here just to calibrate. Basically everything is machine programmed. Surprisingly it tastes pretty much like a traditional Italian espresso, but it’s the same price as all these other cafes so only come if in the area.

8. Fondation Café — another Belleville/Bodybuilder espresso, but quite sour for me. No wifi, only a little room inside, a few seats outside (people-watching?).

9. Coutume — double espresso came in a huge cup which I dislike, shot was sour in a “badly pulled shot” way rather than anything to do with beans. I didn’t like their Tokyo location either. Crowded but once you get a seat there’s wifi so you can hang around.

Telescope was closed for renovation but it looks like it’ll reopen soon.

No one can escape the “New Wave”… I am of the opinion that the new roasters/beans do produce better tasting espresso. But I read someone saying all the café owners follow the same tumblrs and it’s pretty true. All the new cafés have the same look and feel, and I like the classic French cafés with little tables out front better. The espresso was worse of course but that’s the trade-off.

KB CaféShop, Paris, France

I came here for coffee (and they have a very good espresso: Five Elephants). Read about the café here. I saw a granola with fromage blanc on their breakfast menu and a few people were eating it. I was curious what fromage blanc tasted like so I also got one. It’s very similar to greek yogurt but a little lighter — I prefer it. Granola came with bananas. I wish there were some berries but it was good. If the supermarket has fromage blanc I will buy some next time and try this for breakfast.

It’s also located on a nice little corner of Rue de Martyrs, and on Sunday morning there was a small market outside. The produce looked really impressive and fresh, and there were chefs cooking little recipes that could be bought to taste for a nominal fee.

Do your tomatoes look this good?

Do your tomatoes look this good?

Bouchons (Chez Hugon, Daniel et Denise), Lyon, France

I took the TGV from Avignon to Lyon on Sep. 17. Time was lost booking future train tickets and getting finding my way around the metro, so I did not get to my AirBnB until 10pm. By now all the bouchons had closed. I walked around a while, but the city had transitioned from dinner to drinks. I decided to just forego dinner (I ate some chocolate) and go to two bouchons the next day.

While Lyon has a lot of higher end restaurants (Paul Bocuse, Troisgros), I felt like I had enough of tasting menus in other places and I wanted to experience the ‘bouchons lyonnais’ particular to the city. I found this article very helpful in both explaining bouchons and telling me what to eat.

Near my apartment, I happened upon Le Tigre Coffeeshop, which served ‘New Wave’ coffee. I got a noisette (macchiato) and it was the best coffee I’ve had in France so far (the barista told me Paris would have good coffee too). The cafe had free wifi, which I took advantage of.

For lunch I went to Chez Hugon. I had walked by the night before and made a reservation, though I don’t think they wrote my name down because the restaurant doesn’t really require booking for lunch. I was afraid that bouchons would have a stuffy “old boy’s club” atmosphere, but instead these restaurants are very family oriented. They are casual like a bistro/brasserie, but more well lit, less noisy/rowdy. It really is like being invited to eat a meal at someone’s home. I got the lunch menu, choosing lentils with sausage for the entree, the chef’s specialty gâteau de foie de volaille for the main, and 1/2 Saint-Marcellin cheese. I was not a fan of the lentils because they had a very strong vinegar flavor. The chicken liver flan was quite good. I forgot my French so I didn’t even know what I was eating at the time — the flan is quite fluffy, served in a delicious creamy sauce with some bread dumplings(?). The cheese was soft, slightly stinky, i.e., perfect. Overall a nice meal. The portions looked fairly small so I did not feel like I was eating a huge amount. The food is filling, but it didn’t have the same heartiness as my Provençal meals. The flan was served in a still-warm metal pan, presumably the same one the chef used to warm up the dish.

After lunch, I walked around the 2nd Arrondissement, making my way to Boulangerie Du Palais. A small shop on a touristy street, but I got a slice of tarte aux pralines, which has a distinctive red color from the pralines (almonds wrapped in sugar, colored red). I am a huge fan of marzipan, and this tart was basically a marzipan bomb. A little too sweet, but I’m not complaining. A very good afternoon snack!

In the afternoon I went to Cafe Mokxa, another ‘New Wave’ coffee shop. The espresso was quite bright/acidic, but the cappuccino was good. Both of these coffee shops micro-foamed the milk. While the ‘New Wave’ definitely produces better tasting coffee, somehow the feel of the cafes is definitely more American, younger people sitting to chat or hunkering down with a laptop. But somehow it didn’t quite have the same vibe as the traditional cafes, with little round tables outside where everyone sat and drank their espresso while watching the crowd pass by. Or maybe it’s just me.

For dinner I went to Daniel et Denise. I made a reservation online the night before, choosing 7:00pm right when they open since I was afraid some of their signature dishes (pate en croute) would run out later. Important: I went to the Rue de Créqui location, the other location in Old Lyon generally considered to be much worse. I ordered a la carte, getting their classics: pâté en croûte ‘légendaire’ (foie gras and veal sweetbread in pastry crust), omelette du curé (an omelette generally made with chicken livers) with crayfish and Nantua sauce, gras double (Lyonnaise fried tripe and onions). I also got the red wine of the day, which was still quite good but not as good as the Cote du Rhone from Avignon. Everyone was served an amuse-bouche of la cervelle de canut (at least that’s what I think it was) with crispy bread. The pate en croute was quite good, basically as perfect as it could get. The sweetbread was interesting, but I must admit the foie gras was still the best part of the pate. There was an accompanying onion chutney was that amazing as well. The egg was cooked just right in the omelette, and the crayfish gave a distinctive seafood flavor that worked well. I sopped up the sauce with bread. This turned out to be a mistake because they brought out the gras double with a complementary side of macaroni gartin (heavy on cream) and sautéed potatoes. I fought a war with my stomach as I tried to finish everything. The tripe is crispy on the outside while still tripe-textured on the inside. Very heavy, which is why the added vinegar is needed. I am still quite sensitive to the vinegar acidity, so this wasn’t my favorite dish. The macaroni had an interesting smokiness to it that was hard to place. In the end, I ate all of the tripe, half the macaroni, and left most of the potatoes because they were just average. Barely alive, I took a long walk back home.

Everything at Daniel et Denise was a little more refined than at Chez Hugon. Chez Hugon has more history and more of the family feel, while Daniel et Denise was just perfectly executed classic Lyonnaise food in a very nice setting. I had a good experience at both places, with no flaws in service. However I find traditional bouchon food to be too heavy for my liking. I am no stranger to eating offals, and these recipes are certainly unique methods of preparation that taste good, but I would not put them in my “favorite things to eat” list.

I only had a glimpse of Lyon, but it seemed like a fine city to live in. I have not explored it nearly enough, but I feel like it is France’s version of Chicago: good food, big city with much to offer, but Paris still does everything a little better (I live in Chicago but prefer New York).

Cote d’Azur (Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat), France

This post will cover two days of traveling in the Cote d’Azur (Sept. 14-15).

Before leaving Copenhagen, I made a last stop at Andersen Bakery. There was an option to buy three mini-pastries, so I got wienerbrød with gooseberries, wienerbrød with rhubarb, and spandauer with creme (custard). From Copenhagen I flew to Nice via SAS. You had to pay for every drink or snack onboard, but coffee was free so that’s all that matters.

At Nice, I needed to take bus 99 to the central train station. Of course the bus was 45 min late; I expected nothing less from transportation in southern Europe. The bus rides around Nice have given me some of the best scenery of the area though.

By the time I dropped off my luggage and made it to Old Nice, it was past 2pm so all the family run restaurants had closed. Not wanting to eat a mediocre meal at a tourist trap, I got a bakery lunch at Multari, which is a boulangerie with multiple locations, recommended here. They have 6€ lunch deals: I got a nice salmon sandwich, a slice of pissaladière, and a bottle of water. Oh and an espresso. Old Nice reminds me of Venice, with it’s narrow alleys that you can get lost in…except then you walk into a square filled with tourists and restaurants. The afternoon was sunny and hot, but I still made the short uphill walk to the Colline du Chateau overlook, which is where you can get the usual postcard view of Nice. It was cloudy that day, so the photos didn’t capture the vibrant colors of the sea very well.

I still had time before dinner, so I visited the Museum of Marc Chagall. Entrance was 9€ and I came because the guides said that anyone who liked art would enjoy it here. I consider myself an art lover, but I was not too interested here. His painting style doesn’t really appeal to me and most of the subject matter was biblical. The free audio guide did a good job of providing extra information to supplement the paintings though, and the museum space itself (as well as the outside) is well-designed.

For dinner, I tried walking in to Restaurant Acchiardo, a local family run restaurant. I passed by too late at lunch and the waiter told me they opened at 7:30 for dinner, but when I got there it turned out they had opened at 7. I was able to make a reservation for 8:45 later that night, so I hung around the Promenade du Paillon (and suffered a few bug bites) before returning for dinner. There was a lot of English spoken in the back of the restaurant where I was seated, but as I was dining late only locals (or at least French speakers) remained by the end. They have no set menu here, so I constructed my own three course meal: petit farcis (a Nicoise classic of stuffed veal in roast vegetables), daube of beef with gnocchi, and strawberry panna cotta. The house wines were also ridiculously cheap (2.4€/glass) so I got a glass of rosé since that’s what everyone else was having (turns out it’s a specialty of the region). I was surprised that these local restaurants highlighted meat more than seafood considering it’s proximity to the sea. It seems the food is a mix of Provençal (hence the daube) and Italian (pasta). The portions were very generous and I left stuffed. This was the honest peasant cooking I had hoped for. The daube was excellent, none of the winey taste I sometimes dislike in beef bourguignon, and the large chunks of beef were very tender, with gelatin still intact for extra deliciousness. The gnocchi was fantastic as well of course. Total came out to 36.70€, which is not cheap but acceptable since I ate twice my normal amount for dinner.

Nice in the morning

Nice in the morning is wonderful. The temperature is cool, the sun is not quite out, and walking around is a pleasure. I headed to the market on Cours Saleya at around 8am. But first I had to stop for breakfast. I went to a bakery in a little corner of Old Nice recommended hereAu Ble d’Azur. I got a croissant and a cafe creme. The croissant was soft and fluffy with an eggy taste. The entire breakfast was actually fairly average, but the act of eating breakfast in a quiet corner of Old Nice fulfilled my romantic vision of life in a small French town that I’ve dreamed about.

The market itself was also quite enjoyable, a colorful showcase of the local vegetables. I was particularly interested in all the varieties of tomatoes available: Noire de Crimée, Beef Heart, Heirloom Tomatoes that looked more colorful and healthy than the pitiful options in Chicago. Ah how I wish I could cook with these ingredients!

I waited in the market until 10am to get a socca from Chez Thérésa. Socca is a specialty of Nice, made from chickpeas. The socca at Chez Thérésa is made in a shop in Old Nice, then delivered by bike to the market (I actually went to the shop first but they told me to come back to the market). It was pretty good as a snack, nothing more though. From the market, I walked up Rue Droite, which is now my favorite alley in Old Nice. The morning is so alive: everything is open, there are cafes, butcheries, roast chicken, etc. The morning is definitely my favorite time in Nice. To top it off, I got an espresso of the day at Brulerie des Cafés Indien, again recommended here. They specialize in selling beans, which I’m dubious about (freshness?), but the espresso was dark and satisfactory.

Villefranche-sur-Mer and the walk around Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

I took bus 81 to Villefranche-sur-Mer, a seaside town that Rick Steves said was a “must” for romantics. The bus is crowded but presented great views of the coast. Unfortunately I did not find Villefranche-sur-Mer to be the idealic small town I hoped for. There are some quiet alleys but you are always a step away from the tourism. Between the noisy main road and the tourist-oriented coast, there is very little space to experience a “slice of life”. The coast was, however, beautiful due to the incredible azure blue of the water. You can see the Cap Ferrat across the water, which is where I proceed to walk next along the coast.

Following the beach trail, I arrived in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which gave off a Beverly Hills vibe as it was less a small village and more of place with lots of expensive looking houses and villas. I proceeded to do the walk (there is a special trail along the coast) around the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat peninsula. This walk presented the best scenery I’ve experienced in the Cote d’Azur. The photos don’t do it justice, but the different hues of the azure water is quite mesmerizing. In my opinion, the western side of the peninsula has better views than the eastern, as you see Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice in the distance. I ended my walk by getting lunch at the seaside restaurant at Paloma Beach. Here the emphasis is more on dining with a view, but I (finally) got a Nicoise salad (with anchovies, eggs, tuna). It was good, but not that special. From the beach I headed to the town center, where a scoop of ice cream made the wait for the return bus to Nice more pleasant.

I revisited Old Nice at 8pm in search of dinner. I originally wanted to go to Bar des Oiseaux for local food and good pasta, but they said there were all booked…as was every other restaurant on my small list. I guess in a city with so many people, even restaurants that locals frequent require reservations no matter what. Eventually I went to Restaurant du Gésu, mentioned here. No problems with seating, fast and friendly service. The menu is limited and the food is simple, but it felt like a true local hangout — only one table besides mine spoke English. I got zucchini beignets (zucchini was a local specialty), pesto ravioli (stuffed with veal I think), and a plate of three cheeses. The zucchini was average. I am not a pasta expert but the ravioli was enjoyable and filling. The cheese plate was glorious: basically all of the cheeses I had ogled over at the market this morning were presented in generous portions with bread and a little mesclun salad, slivers of tomato, olives. A soft slightly crumbly goat cheese, a mild gooey blue (my favorite), and a firmer blue. I am getting weak these days — I was uncomfortably stuffed by the end of the three courses, so I added on an espresso for digestion. This was not a foodie restaurant or meal, but the casual atmosphere and simple satiating food offered that slice of French life that is hard to find elsewhere.

General thoughts on Nice

Nice is a large city that overwhelms me (due to lack of planning), but I also find myself re-walking the same streets. Much of the city is old and a little dirty. Coupled with the narrow streets and mass of cars and motorcycles, one can feel a bit chaotic. But the city gets more charming as you grow familiar (and avoid the tourists). I like Old Nice since that is where most of the food is. There are also quite a number of independent art galleries here (with admirable works). I guess the scenery makes it a city for artists in both the past and present.

It is too hot to do much in the afternoons. This is probably the time to stay indoors (or sit in the shade at a cafe). The mornings are cool, quiet, and feels more mysterious than the evenings, which just become a sprawl of people. Overall Nice has much to offer, you just have to know where to look.

Flickr:

Cote d'Azur

Day 2, Copenhagen, Denmark

It was raining today, which was slightly inconvenient even though I had an umbrella (which is really annoying when there’s wind) and a rain jacket. I made it to Torvehallerne, which is a super market (not a supermarket) consisting of over 60 stands, luckily mostly indoors. I got there at 8:30 so not much was open, but the main reasons for my visit — Laura’s Bakery and The Coffee Collective — were. Perhaps since it is only a stall, the selection at Laura’s Bakery was smaller than at Andersen’s Bakery yesterday. I got a Snegl med Creme (snail with custard), which was a little too sweet but the custard still made it delicious. Walking right next door, I ordered a double espresso from The Coffee Collective. One of the founders was a WBC champion, so they are quite up to par with the “Third Wave” coffee trend. The espresso was the best one I had in Copenhagen, even though my taste buds were slightly distracted by the sweetness from my pastry.

Next I went to the National Gallery of Denmark, which has free admission. There is a collection of Danish paintings, mostly leaning towards the abstract, surreal, and modern. As I didn’t know any relevant history about these artists, nothing really stood out to me.

For lunch, I went to Aamanns deli (not the adjacent restaurant) for traditional smørrebrøds. I ordered one with herring and one with beef tartare. The herring was really good, with a nice range of flavors captured through the toppings. The tartare didn’t have enough pickles or sauce to contrast with the meat. Not sure how filling these are, but they are pretty expensive: 65 DKK each. I should have gotten the 4 canapé tasting (145 DKK), but the English menu was a little confusing (I wasn’t sure what counted as a smørrebrød). The sit-down area in the deli also looks fairly fancy and there was some confusion over whether I should order at the counter, pay first or later, etc. Just some small aspects that made me feel slightly awkward here.

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After lunch, I walked back to Torvehallerne. Now all the stands were open and things were in full motion, though I kind of preferred the calm quiet of the morning more. Continuing to walk around, I made one final coffee stop at Risteriet, a small cozy cafe near Copenhagen University. It has a more homey atmosphere than The Coffee Collective. This was the first time I saw espresso macchiato offered in Copenhagen, so I ordered it. The shot was pulled fairly long, and the foam was scooped into the center of the demitasse. Surprisingly, the shot actually still tasted good. The bean is a much darker roast, so it is not “Third Wave” but a more traditional European blend, which is not “better” or “worse” than the former. I welcomed the change, and I’d be happy to have more of these traditional espressos while I’m in Europe.

It had stopped raining (but still cloudy) so I walked to Nyhavn, which is supposed to be the most picturesque area in Copenhagen. Without the sun, it wasn’t as pretty as in the photos, and there were a lot of tourists. Leaving the water, I went to Illums Bolighus, which is an upscale home goods store. There I was able to look at and even sit on expensive furniture displaying the finest Danish Designs. The square outside the store is also quite nice, with good views of pretty architecture. I sat on a bench and people watched for a while to kill time before dinner.

I went to BROR for dinner (separate entry here). Not quite reaching the highs of yesterday.

Overall I feel like one needs to live in Copenhagen to really understand the culture. My stay was too short to really let me understand why people living here are the happiest in the world.

Day 1, Copenhagen, Denmark

Woke up at 4:15am to fly from Bergen to Copenhagen. Unfortunately I didn’t pack fast enough and missed the 4:45 airport bus from the hotel, so I had to take a taxi. This was very very painful for me and my wallet — 580 NOK. Moreover when I got to the airport check-in and security were a breeze so I could have easily taken the 5:30 airport bus and still made it in plenty of time. The hotel was nice enough to pack me a breakfast for free though, which I ate at the airport.

Arriving in Copenhagen, I was tired and not in a great mood. I still had 160 NOK in cash, but all the airport currency exchange places charged 40 DKK fee. Giving up, I took the train to Copenhagen Central Station. There I tried exchanging currency with Forex [Western Union]. They still charged 45 DKK fee, but when I said I just wanted to exchange a small amount of money, they waived the fee! This put me in a much better mood, and gave me a great first impression of the helpfulness of Danes (Denmark is supposed to be the happiest country in the world).

Paid for luggage locker at Urban Hostel, then went back to the Tivoli Garden area to get a breakfast/snack at Andersen Bakery, which was recommended on Chowhound. You get a ticket when you enter and then wait your turn to order (it’s slightly cheaper to take out than eat in). Only as I was making an order did I realize that I usually call most of the pastries they were selling just “Danishes”, which of course wouldn’t be the appropriate name here! I was going to get some pastry with a creme center, but observing what others were ordering I decided to try something that looked very ordinary and hope for a nice surprise. Indeed I was rewarded! I ordered a Thebirkes, which is a hollow pastry with sesame seeds on top and a lightly sweet marzipan filling. It was quite good, leaving me very pleased.

Now it was time for the first coffee of the day. It seems Copenhagen has quite a good coffee culture so I will be checking a bunch of cafes out. First up was Coffee First (pun!) which uses Estate Coffee beans. I got a double espresso, served in a large 4-5oz demitasse cup. I saw the shot blonding after ~15 seconds, and the barista kept pulling for another ~30 seconds… The top tasted like typical blonded coffee (a little bland), and the bottom was a little more acidic. Overall the taste was actually not bad, but it was more like a small Americano than a true espresso. 28 DKK.

Walked past Tivoli Garden but didn’t want to pay to go in, and I don’t think I will tomorrow because it looks pretty touristy. I caught a bus to Amass Restaurant, which I wrote about in a dedicated entry. Quite full after the meal, I decided to walk 30 minutes to Christiana. I didn’t quite understand Christiana: it seemed to just be a hippy commune / area where people bought weed. I already had a lot of coffee today, but I felt it was my duty to sample Copenhagen’s coffee scene so I took a stop at Copenhagen Coffee Lab. I was going to just order a single espresso but I saw the barista actually do some latte art for someone’s cappuccino, so I decided to order a cortado. Unfortunately it came with no latte art, and the taste was pretty mediocre. Not much success with coffee in Copenhagen yet, and the prices are ~1.6x those in the US.

I had wanted to check out some design and art galleries, but unfortunately they all closed before 4pm on Saturday (and aren’t open on Sunday). Instead, I returned briefly to the hostel before heading to a fantastic dinner at Restaurant Radio, which can be read here.

Basically, all I did was eat good food and drink coffee today.

Stavanger, Norway

There was no way to get to Kjerag without renting a car (Tidereiser tour ended in August), so I just hung out in Stavanger today and worked. I think the views from Kjerag and Preikestolen are probably fairly similar since they are both near the Lysefjord, so I am not too hung up about it. I wanted around Old Stavanger a little, which has a lot of preserved white houses. Kind of nice but not that special.

Now of course for me living in a city means finding the best coffee. I decided to go to Coffee Berry, which is a newer coffee shop in Stavanger (original location in Sandnes). I got a straight single origin espresso, which was very bright/acidic. I’m not the biggest fan of super bright espresso unless they have very strong fruit notes, but I think it was a decent espresso. I think this shop is a step in the right direction for the coffee here. They pull espressos on a La Marzocco, and sell a lot of their own beans along with coffee brewing supplies. And while every other place in Norway is still a little foreign, I felt right at home in the coffee shop: I recognized everything and knew what was what. Moreover I find food prices in Norway exorbitantly expensive, but the coffee prices were about what I expected — I guess I’m used to paying a lot for good coffee already.

After staying at Coffee Berry a while, I moved down the street for round two at Steam Kaffebar. Their ice machine was broken so I couldn’t get a shakerato; I settled for a macchiato. They did not know how to microfoam the milk, so the foam had to be scooped out with a spoon… The espresso also tasted very dark without any of the chocolatey or fruity notes. They pulled shots on a La Marzocco GS/3 with the special wooden handles/decorations, so their equipment is on point at least. The decor of the shop was also a bit more sophisticated than Coffee Berry (which felt more child-like), but the level of the coffee here was what I originally expected and feared from a smaller non-Italian European city.

General thoughts on Norway while I’m at it: I was expecting everyone to look like a viking, but there is quite a lot of diversity (a lot of South Asian and Middle Eastern ethnicities?). The average height is also shorter than I expected. There’s a lot of people wearing Goretex / hiking gear and I don’t think all of them are tourists? Overall a much more diverse population than I expected. Everyone also speaks English, so the overall environment is very friendly and welcoming for foreigners/tourists.

Maybe it’s because it’s summer, but everyone in Norway seems to be eating ice cream. In general they seem to eat a lot of sweets and snacks, but maybe that’s just because I don’t see the sit down meals.

Stavanger