Victor Frankowski is one half of the London-based DunneFrankowski coffee consultancy, as well as a professional photographer whose past clips include Vice, NME, The New York Times, and many more. Originally from Poland, Mr. Frankowski is documenting the land of his birth in a two-part series on Sprudge. In Part 2 of the series, we take a closer look at some of the best cafes in Warsaw, Poland’s capital. You can read Part 1 here, in which we examine a half-dozen top cafes elsewhere in the country.
Consider this a heartfelt set of recommendations, and a candid look at Poland’s vibrant–and underappreciated–cafe culture.
Located in the Museum of Modern Art (Museum Sztuki Nowoczesnej) below an apartment block, Emesen is a spot where both baristas and people go when they want a good coffee without the crowd. The café opened in 2013, and sits in the entrance and reception area to the museum, which also houses an art bookshop.
Emesen is well-equipped with a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2 two-group espresso machine, served by Compak and Anfim grinders. Their house espresso blend comes from Coffee Zone, but on my visit I opted to try the guest espresso, Colombia El Roble from The Barn, a well-regarded roastery in Berlin. This was followed up by a Chemex of Costa Rica Don Jose, also from The Barn, properly brewed and yielding a honey sweetness, clean acidity, and cocoa nibs on the finish.
Manual brewing processes are gaining popularity in Poland and at Emesen you can choose from Chemex, AeroPress, Hario Woodneck, V60, and Kalita brew methods, paired with a roster of changing guest coffees from The Barn, Bonanza (also from Berlin), and Koppi (from Sweden).
ul. Pańska 3, 00-124, Warsaw.
I’ve long been a fan of Polish film and theatre posters, and Relaks houses an exemplary ever-changing collection all over its walls. The space itself is a shop front below an apartment block located in the Mokotow district of Warsaw, with a wonderfully tiled floor and great vintage furniture. This is where you spot the city’s top designers and creatives, working away on laptops.
The café opened 4 years ago as a combination café and bike shop; today Relaks is resolutely coffee focused, with a menu that includes standard espresso options and a wide variety of manual brew methods, serving top Polish roasters like Kofi Brand and Coffee Proficiency, as well as The Barn from Berlin. This cafe has proudly produced a line of national Polish coffee champions, including the 2014 Polish Cup Tasters champion Mikolaj Panasik, who’ll represent Poland at the World Cup Tasters Championship this summer in Rimini, Italy.
ul. Puławska 48, 02-559, Warsaw.
The Ministry of Coffee is located on Marszalkowskiej Street, and is well-known in Poland for being among the first to serve coffee from Sweden’s Koppi, as well as for playing host to the Polish AeroPress Championship, now in its third year. The street-facing space boasts huge windows, and is often full with hip students and professionals stopping in for a coffee while hanging out around Warsaw’s very cool Zbawiciela Square, literally 100ft away. This is a lively and happening part of Warsaw, with great restaurants, bars, and even a cool new comedy club attracting hip young locals and expats alike.
If you have had enough of the Chemex, AeroPress, V60 and espresso options on offer you can always stay late and get a glass of wine. A nice and simple design with great lighting feature makes this a relaxed space for any time of the day or evening.
Marszałkowska 27/35, 00-639, Warsaw. Official website.
The original specialty café in Poland is located a 10 minute tram ride from the Warsaw city centre, in the suburb of Stare Ochocie. Many renowned Polsih baristas have worked behind the bar at Filtry, including multiple national Cup Tasters champions. This cafe opened in 2007; I’ve been told it was the first café to serve brewed coffee in Poland.
This is a narrow, intimate cafe space, with a comfortable design and charming outdoor seating. I visited during a heated round of practice for the Polish AeroPress Championships, and my barista, Patryk Szemlter, was was more than happy to let me test out several of their recipes. Filtry’s got a wide variety of filter coffee brewing methods to go along with a seasonal espresso blend from Java. They’re also serving Kofi Brand, and a rotating cast of other Polish roasters.
Niemcewicza 3, Ochota, Warsaw. Official website.
This roastery and café space is located in Praga, on the side of the river Vistula that many Warsawians don’t dare to cross. It’s definitely a destination, and coffee from this roaster is served at some of the best cafes throughout Poland. My visit gave me a chance to chat with Konrad and Ania Oleksak, the husband and wife team behind this roastery, about the developments and changes in the Polish coffee scene. The coffee scene in Poland is so vibrant and exciting right now, and Kofi Brand is playing an important role.
The space itself encompasses a bar, training area, office and 5kg Giesen roaster, all made to look slick and modern. Kofi Brand never intended this facility to house a café, but the public demand from locals and neighbours forced their hand, and you can now grab a coffee directly from the team at Kofi Brand (and have a chat) on weekday mornings from 9am until noon. Expect to hear and see more from Kofi Brand in the coming months across Europe, as they’re close to launching an online shop with international shipping.
Mińska 25, 03-808 Praga, Warsaw. Official website.