You Can Light up Marijuana Within Amsterdam Coffeeshops, But Is The Coffee Respectable?
A job was self-imposed and necessary: I’d lived in Amsterdam for over a decade yet could not say why a Dutch venue that offers marijuana is called a “coffeeshop”. Even the phrase was a mystery: two British words, Germanically smushed with each other and nominally neglecting to actually hint at the menu’s most coveted items. I could not remember at any time savoring coffee at one of these brilliant places. Does anyone actually consume coffee at these places?
A smoker I am not. Prufrock I am not. I haven’t measured out my expatriate existence in coffee spoons, much less in mini press-seal bags. But past composing jobs and also tag-along sessions offered sufficient first-hand experience to maintain that Amsterdam’s coffeeshops didn’t really do right by my own personally preferred psychoactive drug. (That has to be caffeine.)
It was-yes-high time to uncover the unknown. This is a coffee-focused tour of the Amsterdam coffee shops.
I began at Barney’s Lounge down the middle of Amsterdam’s canal ring, a UNESCO World Heritage site simply steps from the backdrop of the recent Anthropologie catalog spread. If a knee-length striped sweater may simultaneously evoke Old World warmth and cool urban freedom, why can’t a coffeeshop supply old-school bakedness as well as the gentle lift of delicious, contemporary coffee? The Lounge, after all, may be the classy outpost of the three-ring Barney’s enterprise spread across town, including a Cannabis Cup-winning coffeeshop along with a smoker-friendly breakfast bar.
Machine: Gaggia, two-group
Coffee: Intenso Forte Blend; 80% Robusta, 20% Arabica
Even though delivered, literally, on a silver platter, the espresso was acerbic. I well realized why this was included with two sugars, a capsule of evaporated milk, and also, in the Dutch tradition, a small cookie. Actually the heights frequently reached on the nearby Volcano Vaporizer couldn’t contend with the bitterness that climbed the rear of my mouth. A harsh toke.
Leaving the canals behind, I headed in to the city’s shopping district for Dampkring. The blood-orange-glowing den played DJ Shadow, as well as its title appeared fitting-dampkring is a double entendre in Dutch, this means “atmosphere” along with “smoke circle.”A scene from Ocean’s Twelve was shot here, and for many years after the cafe showed the film on loop, an exercise which has thankfully halted. Nonetheless, I asked yourself, just how may the Nespresso-sipping specter of George Clooney influence my purchase?
Machine: Sanremo, two-group
Coffee: “I don’t know,” mentioned a harried barwoman whom took no interest in assisting me learn the provenance of the coffee.
Anyhow, consuming from the exact same white demitasse as Brad Pitt did nothing to draw attention away from a few bitter gulps. Nor did the famous-on-Twitter cafe cat, #odkbowie, or perhaps the lush tiger lilies, atmospheric though they were.
Though among the list of smallest coffeeshops about, De Tweede Kamer feels vital, even lofty. This perception might have something to do with its name, that translates to “the second chamber”, a mention of Netherlands House of Representatives. Studying the storefront logo that includes a profile of the old queen, I realized that beneath Juliana’s head, it just reads “Amsterdam coffee”. Does the shed of “shop” mean that the refreshment had some kind of improved position here?
Machine: Sanremo, single-group
Coffee: Their “own blend” of a Brazilian Arabica is how 22-year veteran dealer/barista Hans van Brunschot explained it. However spill the beans about the specific roaster brand name, he did not.
This is the easiest espresso I’d experienced so far on that day: lighter, fruitier, along with hints of chocolate. However could it have been a cafe royal? Well, nee.
After going to other venues not really worth wasting word count for, I seriously doubted that coffeeshops had got the memo some other tourist-trodden spots in Amsterdam had plainly read as well as actioned. Metropolitans with moderate taste, me personally included, enjoy specialty coffee. Perhaps coffeeshop coffee was intended to stay purely functional, relegated to that Robusta smack in a stoner’s face. It feels as though a missed possibility.
Then, in the glowing blue boundaries of a coffeeshop across the street from Rembrandt’s old digs, I stumbled upon otherwise. 2nd floor at The Bluebird, the barwoman had been fast to relay that their coffee beans are derived from Simon Lévelt, a Dutch organization which began roasting in Amsterdam within 1817. Downstairs, I spoke with Jawi Heij, who almost a year ago had been hired by the 2 owners to address what they just about all agreed was a coffee crisis. “It was going around,” says Heij. “It was in papers all around the world, how bad the coffee and the service was.” I slurped up the validation. Heij’s top priority, he explained, has been giving all staff a barista training, something he himself benefitted from throughout a 15-year career at Amsterdam’s Hilton Hotel (of John and Yoko bed-in fame).
Machine: Gaggia, 2-group
Coffee: Simon Lévelt Espresso Beneficio; 95% Arabica, 5% Robusta; South America
So lastly, I had a satisfying espresso. Their taste ended up being gentle but long lasting, sharp and round simultaneously. Pretty good for a two-century-old roaster.