In Hamburg you don’t just stumble over new coffee shops—you must get them recommended to you. Which is how I came upon Balz und Balz in Hamburg's Hoheluft district during a recent trip to the city.
The cafe is flooded with sun on the bright—yes, there’s such a thing in Hamburg—afternoon of my visit. Chris Balz, co-owner of the brother and sister team of Balz und Balz, is preparing cappuccinos for his guests behind the La Marzocco Strada MP that sits on the counter. Beyond the coffee selection, the cake offerings simply overwhelmed me—Germans do love their cake and coffee tradition in the afternoons. I opted for a huge slice of Schmandkuchen and paired that with a BUNN batch-brewed filter coffee with beans roasted by JB Kaffee of Munich.
Chris Balz tells me he and his sister Kathrin always wanted to open their own shop since they were little kids. They grew up in a family of butchers within a restaurant and guest house business. Before settling down in Hamburg—and as Chris Balz says, Hamburg is actually the right place to do just that—they literally traveled the world and learned everything they could about cooking and baking, coffee, tea, and drinks. With Chris Balz being the coffee and tea expert and Kathrin Balz the one taking care of the food, Balz und Balz not only serves cake and sweets, but also homemade sandwiches, salads, and soups—they make the perfect brother and sister team.
While sitting in one of the huge windows I let my eyes wander through the cafe, which is split in two parts. One in the front when stepping inside the front door with a huge table, a bench, and some chairs on each side to the left—not to forget the huge tattooed lady photograph hanging on the wall—and the counter to the right. In the back, you can find some additional seating with smaller tables and a shelf hanging on the wall with sausages from the family-owned butchery; I can hear (and smell) Kathrin Balz working in the kitchen preparing even more of the delicious cakes that are showcased in the glass cabinet right next to the counter.
“We’re trying to be as local as possible,” Chris Balz tells me. “The sausages are from our family, the cheese is from a cheesery [Backensholzer Hof] close by, the chocolate from Mr. Hobans Coffee Roastery here in Hamburg, preserves and chutneys are from Fruchtkombüse as well as the tea from Companion Coffee & Tea in Berlin,” he says. “Almost all our food is homemade and prepared right here and fresh in the cafe for our guests.”
Kathrin and Chris Balz love to be the hosts to their guests. You immediately feel part of the Balz family when talking to both of them. If a coffee shop is supposed to be an extension of the home, Balz und Balz definitely is.
Melanie Böhme is a freelance journalist based in Frankfurt, Germany. Read more Melanie Böhme on Sprudge.