Spectacular Gothic architecture cut through with the picturesque Danube and a history that’s as rich as it is steep are Budapest’s draw cards. But there’s a burgeoning contemporary culture that’s fast-tracking the Hungarian capital to the top of destination wish lists. Sleek restaurants and chic boutique shopping certainly play their part, but it’s a thriving coffee shop culture that’s hoisting Budapest into trendier echelons. Based on service, décor and, most importantly, the quality of their roasts, here are the five hippest coffee shops in Budapest…
Everyone knows of the Espresso Embassy. It blazed a trail through Budapest’s coffee scene, being the first café to offer an ingenious array of preparations, from the high-tech AeroPress to the analogue Chemex Coffeemaker and slow-but-steady Hario V60. And then there are the beans – a giddy array of light, single-sourced roasts from tiny local suppliers to hefty exotic breeds imported from London’s legendary Square Mile Coffee Roasters. Those who can distinguish the fruity notes of arabica from the nuttier robusta will appreciate Espresso Embassy’s fastidious dedication to its craft, and will come to recognise this as one of the best coffee shops in Budapest.
Demand for the pastel-hued French macaron is on a blossoming trend in Budapest. Step in, Chez Dodo. The purveyor of freshly baked macarons prepares its indulgent sugary rainbow desserts in the café’s shop. The creation of the part cookie, part meringue is a source of fascination in itself, and there’s a refreshingly well-versed beverage menu for those who wish to linger awhile and watch. The house roast makes a good, sharp kick of espresso and a smooth flat white that’s expertly layered. But while the coffee is good here, let’s face it: Chez Dodo’s real highlight is what the coffee comes with.
The jewel in Budapest’s cool coffee shop crown, Fekete is an ingenious combination of expertly brewed coffee, laid-back décor and exceedingly good cake. The menu offers a smattering of trendy beverages such as matcha, fresh juices and iced coffees, but really, it’s the espresso that’s the crowd pleaser here. An artful blend of beans sourced from providers in South America – it’s a circus of fruity notes across the tongue.
What this tiny enclave on the busy drag of Rákóczi út lacks in space, it certainly makes up for in quality. Coffee Shop 64’s sole focus is on serving great brews. Its reasonable prices and friendly baristas are what establishes it as a firm favourite among locals. Choose from a great selection that serves up all the usual suspects (americano, cortado, latte). Those with a taste for something softer should try the hot chocolate; it’ll be one of the best you’ve had.
Surfing the Hungarian capital’s hipster tide, The Goat Herder Espresso Bar near Budapest Keleti train station knows how to make a very good artisan coffee. An appealing menu of breakfast favourites marks this as the spot where coffee aficionados start the day. Those with a sweet tooth should opt for a generous slice of banana bread to accompany their cortado – utterly delicious.