Fine Gourmet Coffee Shop In Bucharest?

So what concept should go over well in Bucharest? As we travel from coffee shop to coffee shop in search of a “daily” place to sit, hangout, chat, get some internet work accomplished, and most of all enjoy a cup of near PERFECT coffee, we are met with miserable failure. Bucharest, and Eastern Europe in particular is awash with soulless, emotionless, modern renditions of what are essentially sterile “cafes” at best. We have the Lavazza, DonCafe, Segafredo, and the occasional Illy to round out the coffee brands that are “served” in Bucharest. “Served” remains in quotes as it is near impossible to take that word seriously in Bucharest, Romania. Put simply, the coffee here is mud (measured in viscosity one would imagine), the service blows, and the atmosphere is in some instances a notch higher than finding a nice noisy corner of your local IKEA store. Don’t get us wrong however, there are a very few decent coffee shops, some of which we do recommend on this site, but nothing along the lines of what is possible to create. There is certainly room in the local marketplace (even during this economic time period) for a premium 5-star gourmet coffee shop. What do we mean by a 5-star premium coffee shop? We are not talking about the highly commercialized concept of burnt-coffee bean, Big Mac-in-a-cup frappa whatevers, like Star Bucks, or the like. Here is a story to help “imprint” this image upon a struggling Bucharest niche:

While two of us expatriates were living in South Carolina a few years back, we would regularly go to what was essentially our “favorite” spot to be. This place was named Coffee and Crema, currently located in Greenville South Carolina. You can view their site at www.coffeeandcrema.com. The reason this was our favorite place was simple; the best coffee and the best service; two things Bucharest coffee shops are missing almost entirely. We would go in to this coffee shop (at the time a little hole in the wall spot in the local mall) on a near daily basis. As entrepreneurs and real estate investors, most of our business was mobile, so we had the “luxury” of doing this (the cool thing is that this niche of self-employment is growing, so the need for a great “outside place of business and pleasure” should be increasing). We were first drawn to this coffee shop by the absolutely amazing aroma of fresh-brewed coffee and then following that, the extreme effort and care which was put in to pouring that “perfect” cup of coffee or espresso (not to mention the perfection was consistent). Aside from the outstanding quality, the service and friendliness of the staff, this is a place someone could go and chat, focus on any work that needed to be done, interact with everything coffee and tea going on around you (listen to pleasant music… not the trance-dance-euro-garbage overplayed in Bucharest) all the while being within an atmosphere that one would associate with a good fresh cup of coffee brewed from beans brought from the finest plantations and roasters around the World. No “House Blend” here!

To get a feeling of a truly great “old world” as we call it, style coffee shop, also take a glance at Cafe Intermezzo in Atlanta, Georgia. This is yet again another coffee shop that went over extremely well, and of course, features a full list of premium coffees, not just a list of different “methods” for drinking the same brand of coffee. Ethiopian Yrgacheffe? Kenya AA? Hawaiian Kona? Tanzanian Peaberry? Guatemala Antigua? Yeah, they’ve got all that.

When is the last time you had a properly pulled espresso in Bucharest? A properly brewed french press? Let us know so we can review them!

So does Bucharest have room for a “Fine” gourmet coffee shop with all the amenities and services one would expect? All rolled into an atmosphere adequate for such an establishment? Can the finish the coffee shop in materials not pulled from IKEA’s discount rack? Can they manage to locate coffee beans from around the world (not around the supermarket)? Will Bucharestians even desire to go to a coffee shop like this? Who knows. We think there is a niche for this. This would go over very well with expatriates living in Bucharest simply because it offers something different and unique. Monotony is coming to an end here.

Here is a snippet taken from Coffee & Crema’s website to “show” you the time and attention they put into their product. Can any of this be said for coffee shops in Bucharest??

Current Offerings

Papua New Guinea, Tambul
Seasonal Selection

From Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands comes Tambul, a voluptuous, full, round, sweet coffee. Flavors of caramel and chocolate dominate, with subtle accents of cherry.

Kayanza, Burundi, Kiryama
Seasonal Selection

The coffee farmers of Kiryama cultivate heirloom Bourbon, Mibirizi, and Jackson coffee varieties at 1760 meters above sea level. With sweet, clean notes of pomegranate, red grape, and orange; their latest harvest is a delicious expression of Burundi’s burgeoning agricultural craftsmanship.
Espresso
We offer Espresso Toscano at both locations. It’s roasted and blended in the caffe dolce or “sweet coffee” tradition of Central Italy. Both sweet and mild, with notes of caramel, hazelnut, and dark chocolate. The Fazenda Ipanema “Dulce,” a profoundly sweet, dry-processed coffee from the famous Ipanema estate of Brazil is a major component of this blend as is the Gayo from the mountains of Aceh, Sumatra. This coffee is beautiful on its own and lends a clean, creamy dark chocolate character specific to espresso. It is a wonderful and complete everyday espresso.

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24 Comments

  1. I loved reading your witty words. Indeed Bucharest is in dire need of a quality coffee shop, is this an issue Romanaia wide? I would be first in line to support any expats who want to open something along the lines of those cafes described here.

    • I actually visited a really wonderful coffee shop owned and operated by an older couple that clearly had a passion for what they did.. which is the key. It was in the Old Town of Brasov… so this “old world” feel and comfyness came almost automatically. Also as a side note, there is a small hole in the wall “Coffee & Wine” bar (actual name) here in Bucharest in old town Lipscani. Not quite what we;re looking for.. but very close.

      • Maybe the problem with coffee shops is the problem with Irish Pubs. They open up with the same regularity as McDonald’s, to appeal to the locals and to occasional visitors who won’t brave the trip to a local bar. When global trade goes down, they probably take a hit too. Foreigners don.t take well to local cultures as well as they like, and locals may be too busy and averse to foreign ideas, which is why many bars, restaurants, hotels stick to premium prices for premium decor and location. It will take quality, low price, and persistence I think to open a coffee shop, and maybe a good gift section too. 

  2. I love coffee, I really do. Often I end up just roasting my own beans in an attempt to re create a good coffee. I would be thrilled to see a find coffee shop that can keep me juiced.

    • I tend to do the same. It is pretty easy to buy the beans online and I do need my coffee fix. On the other hand going to a cafe offers a different experience and a chance to try different drinks. I am happy to keep trying the small places in the quest for success.

      • I do agree with you. I do think that there is a niche for a fine coffee place. The whole world loves coffee. If you ever read up on some of the legends about coffee you would be amused.

  3. I seem to remember having a half decent coffee in a cafe filled with Bucharest memorabilia. That was quite a while ago though, not sure if it is still around though. It was pretty busy and fun with some mood making music.

  4. Ah this would be bad for me. I am trying not to drink coffee anymore. But if there is a good coffee shop then I have a very hard time keeping myself away from it!

    • How can you even think of giving up coffee? Good on you for sticking to your beliefs but I cannot imagine life without it. Perhaps a tea house would be a good alternative? I don’t mind Segafredo coffee, so long as there is a good atmosphere,(an essential), I am happy.

  5. With coffee shops being all the rage in most other countries, I am suprised that it is so hard to find one in Bucharest. I imagine it would be a great business opportunity for the right person. Hmmmm…..

    • I have found the odd gem but as I don’t know the city very well I can never remember where a place was or how to get back there. I think some expats should open a coffee house!

  6. I had to choose this article for my first post! It’s comforting to know that there are others out here that share my desire and appreciation for coffee made and served with respect. I avoid the generic places as much as possible but any port in a storm as they say …. I need my caffeine fix one way or another.

  7. Does anyone know if they will let you bring a can of coffee with you when you travel? I don’t think I can make it without my coffee. So not a morning person and it is “the best part of waking up” as Folgers so accurately put it.

  8. I’m not a coffee drinker but I dig coffee shops. They are great places to hang out and watch people. I guess now I know why people here don’t linger like they did back in the states.

    • Oh I am a devoted coffee drinker and to me a good coffee shop that doubles as the place to be is something amazing and much needed for my spirits.

  9. I have to admit I do go to the coffee shops here. Not because I like them, but because I keep hoping they’ll get better. I try to give them hints, but no luck so far.

    • Do not give up hope. I try to be friendly with the managers and sometimes they will go an extra step or two for me! Once they get used to you they will start to listen more, at least for you.

      • I think that is a great idea. I really think that you can network with local business owners of Bucharest with the goal of helping them understand what customers right. It is not easy but it can be done.

        • Since I pretty much live at coffee shops (thanks to my coffee addiction) I do tend to get to know the staff pretty well. There is something about being a regular that gets you better service.

  10. This post a great post.This was famous  place was simple; the best coffee and the best
    service; two things Bucharest coffee shops are missing almost entirely.That a great information.I like this article so much.Keep sharing with us.

  11. you don’t need quotes around daily.

    coming from London which has ~50+ world class cafe’s now I do find Eastern Europe sorely lacking (though I would imagine almost every country in the world is the same).

  12. you also don’t need quotes around favourite or perfect.

  13. where do you list the best cafes in bucharest on this site? Any chance of a top 5 on here or link? thx

  14. There are really some coffee shops that has not been paying much attention to the comments of their patrons that is why they haven’t improved. Better for the management to be particular on their food and the service itself so that everything will turn out well.

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