Victor Frankowski is one half of the London-based DunneFrankowski coffee consultancy, as well as a professional photographer whose work has appeared in galleries around the world and in the pages of Vice, NME, The New York Times, and many more. Born in Poland before moving to Australia and then London, Mr. Frankowski recently spent time traveling through the land of his birth, exploring cafe culture and documenting it in a series of photos and short cafe reviews for Sprudge.
Part 1 of this series focuses on cafes in smaller Polish cities like Poznan, Gliwice, Opole, and Krakow. Part 2 will feature the many fine cafes of Warsaw. Consider this a heartfelt set of recommendations, and a candid look at Poland's vibrant–and underappreciated–cafe culture.
Brisman Coffee Bar – Poznan
Opened by Mateusz Gaca and Agnieszka Rojewska just 18 months ago, this is one of the first specialty coffee bars in Poznan, an ancient Polish city that today is very modern and bustling. Brisman is a basement coffee bar I would describe as “quirky”, and you might as well use the same word for owners Gaca and Rojes, as they're known to friends, who've decorated the shop in equal parts Star Wars memorabilia and award plaques from national Polish coffee competitions. The pair is well-decorated: Rojewska is the 2014 Polish Latte Art champion, and between her and Gaca they've made four consecutive Polish Barista Championship Finals appearances, going all the way back to 2011
The coffee at Brisman is roasted by Apro Trade, a well-established Polish roasting and importing company that also dabbles in training and consulting. Brisman's got a brisk guest coffee program as well, with frequently rotating coffees on offer from roasters across Poland. It doesn't hurt to have espresso served on a handsome Faema E91 Diplomat espresso machine.
Two items on the menu you won’t find anywhere else in Poland: a sparkling cascara soda (see our coverage of Everyman Espresso‘s version here) made in house, and Brisman's own coffee beer, which debuted last year at the Lodz Coffee Festival.
ul. Adama Mickiewicza 20 — 60-834 Poznan. http://www.brisman.pl/
Stragan – Poznan
Opened just one year ago, this is a beautifully designed space serving great coffee with food and beer to match. They're also a multi-roaster cafe, something that's increasingly common in Poland. On my visit the menu featured espresso and filter coffees from Kofi Brand, as well as coffees from Coffee Proficiency served in a variety of modern options including AeroPress, Chemex, V60 or cold brew.
On my visit I was accompanied by friends Damian Durda from Uno Espresso and Michal Pluta from Coffee Proficiency, and together we tried an impressive Chemex of Kenyan coffee roasted by Kofi Brand.
Stragan is simple and charming, with a well-considered design and a sense of international influences that stretch beyond Poland. You can see it in how the coffee's served, and in the cafe's distinctive “coffee bag wall”, proudly displaying a variety of coffees consumed from roasters around the world.
Ul. Franciszka Ratajczaka 31, 61-816 Poznan. Official Facebook.
Kofeina Art Cafe & Kofeina 2.0 – Opole
My coffee pilgrimage continued to the two bars of Kofeina, located in Opole, a small city in the southwest of Poland with just around 100,000 inhabitants. The first Kofeina opened in 2009, and since then the husband and wife team of Artur & Kasia Porada have inspired many folk in the Polish coffee scene. They were one of the first coffee bars in Poland to serve filter coffee, as well as being one of the first trendsetters for what's now become a Polish coffee phenomenon: the basement cafe. It is hard to overestimate how important Kofeina has been for the quality cafe scene in Poland.
The Poradas' passion for great quality continued with Kofeina 2.0, located under the city’s theatre, adding a full kitchen and a very well stocked bar. On the bar you'll find a seasonal espresso, which they blend together with roaster Coffee Proficiency, then pull on a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia espresso machine. Filter coffee options include V60, Chemex, AeroPress, and syphon brews, with several roaster options such as Kofi Brand, Java, and other Polish roasters.
Kofeina Art Cafe takes the “Art” part of their name seriously: the Poradas regularly host art shows and music events in their spaces, adding to the cultural importance of these basement bars in Opole. Need more proof? Kofeina has recently opened a barista training academy, passing on wisdom and job skills to the next generation of Polish baristas.
KAFO Cafe – Gliwice
Again and again, my friends in coffee implored that I simply *had* to go to the mystical town of Gliwice and see Kafo. They weren't wrong.
Kafo opened in 2010, and is regarded by many Polish baristas as being one of the best coffee bars in the country. Owner Pawel Siemaszko has customised the pump on his La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine to handle pressure profiling; he was also the first person in Poland to have a reverse osmosis water system.
The team at Kafo are on point with everything they do and the coffee doesn’t disappoint, with options from multiple roasters (including Coffee Proficiency and Kofi Brand) and several well-dialed brew methods. You can believe the hype around Kafo, they really are among Poland's best.
ul. Józefa Wieczorka 14, 44-100 Gliwice. Official website.
Coffee Cargo – Krakow
So this is a sneak preview, as technically Coffee Proficiency's new café and roastery is not open yet. Located in an old warehouse inside an industrial estate, the space is set up to be among the most beautiful and distinctive in all of Poland.
Shipping containers have been moved inside and tightly fitted to house a bar, kitchen area, roastery, and lab on ground level, with seating and Coffee Proficiency’s office upstairs. The cafe is home to Poland’s first Slayer Espresso machine and Bunn Trifecta air infusion brewer, with a brand new 30kg roaster on the way to help complete this space. There's also this pretty outrageous multi-hopper grinder contraption, seen below, that allows for multi-bean grinding in the device's central chamber.
Coffee Cargo is due to open just a few weeks after this article goes to press, and I'm convinced the space will be seen as not only unique in Poland, but across Europe. This gigantic new cafe space has been hosting parties and get togethers while preparing to open, and putting finishing touches on a space that will soon host curious coffee visitors from around the world.
If ever there was a cafe that gave you the excuse to visit Poland, it's this one.
ul. Przemyslowa 3, Krakow. Official website for Coffee Proficiency.
Though I tried, I just didn’t get the time to visit all the fine cafés in Poland outside of Warsaw. Here's a few more cafes that I sincerely recommend to those traveling in Poland, and in need of good coffee.
Lodz – Owoce i Warzywa
Wroclaw – Café Sztuczki