Leipzig, a city in Germany with a rich cultural heritage and a deep coffee connection, has undergone significant changes in the millennium since its founding. Its coffee tradition stretches back more than three centuries, claiming the honor of hosting Germany’s first coffee house—Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum—from 1717. This historic cafe hosted illustrious figures like Napoleon, Goethe, and J. S. Bach, who wrote a comical cantata on the necessity of drinking coffee three times a day. Though temporarily closed for renovations, there are plans to reopen it in the coming years, complete with a museum dedicated to Saxony’s coffee legacy.
Unlike other German cities that revolved around monarchies, Leipzig was shaped by its merchant class. The city’s central marketplace remains encircled by Renaissance residences of distinguished merchants and traders that span over five centuries. The aftermath of the Second World War left Leipzig severely damaged, but ongoing restoration efforts have blended historical and contemporary architectural styles throughout the urban landscape.
Leipzig continues to thrive as a center of learning and creativity, as home to one of Europe’s oldest universities. Its close proximity to Berlin and more affordable housing options have led to a population influx, resulting in a remarkable 20% growth over the last 10 years. This surge in inhabitants has propelled Leipzig to the position of the eighth-most populous city in Germany.
Today, the city still embraces many of the cultural traditions that have contributed to its reputation as a favorite destination. With attractions like a substantial Christmas Market, frequent classical music concerts, and the world’s largest annual gothic festival, the Wave-Gotik-Treffen, visitors are sure to discover something that suits their interests.
7 Shots Coffee
7 Shots opened its doors in 2018 with a clear mission: to provide consistently high-quality espresso from a diverse selection of roasters. What sets this cafe apart is its commitment to offering an ever-changing menu featuring beans from various micro-roasters, including recent highlights like MOK from Brussels, Drop Coffee from Stockholm, Manhattan Coffee Roasters from Rotterdam, and 19grams from Berlin.
Beyond its exceptional coffee, 7 Shots is cherished for its delectable homemade cakes and pastries, with the menu frequently refreshed to keep customers surprised. They partner with local farmers for their milk, as well as providing brewing necessities for home brew with supplies from Hario and AeroPress.
The cafe’s welcoming atmosphere and friendly baristas add to its charm, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Situated in sight of the Bayerischer Bahnhof, Germany’s oldest preserved railroad station dating back to 1842, 7 Shots offers patrons one of the best views of the Neues Rathaus. It’s open seven days a week, ensuring you can get your caffeine fix whenever you please, whether it’s a coffee to stay or attentively curated beans for brewing at home.
Franz Morish, situated just outside Leipzig’s city ring near the Grassi Museum, stands out as one of the city’s few coffee roasters. They take pride in their distinctive approach to coffee roasting. For espresso, they opt for slightly higher final temperatures and longer roast times to reduce acidity, while for filter coffee, a faster roast preserves the fruity flavors.
Their dedication to the craft is evident in their mantra: “Because love goes through coffee.” They also maintain a close partnership with Quijote Kaffee, emphasizing sustainability and coffee quality since 2017. What makes Franz Morish even more special is its charming breakfast and lunch menus, featuring seasonal specials. They bake their own bread, pastries, and cookies, elevating the cafe experience.
Inside, Franz Morish boasts expansive indoor seating with long tables with benches reminiscent of Oktoberfest, giving patrons a clear view of the roasting process. Visitors are invited to take part in their espresso-focused drink menu, and try their various roasts primarily from Latin America. An array of coffee tools, brewers, plateware, and local goods are also available for purchase.
Located just a few blocks from Leipzig’s main square, this cafe marks a rich history dating back to 1745 when Jean George Riquet founded the company Riquet & Co. It began as an exotic import business specializing in tea, coffee, and other commodities, later expanding to include a public coffee shop. The cafe’s legacy of serving coffee and its association with high society extended far beyond Saxony.
The current building, constructed in 1908-09 by Paul Lange, reflects a stylish interior characterized by impressive granite pillars, high-ceilinged rooms, multiple floors, and a spacious gallery. Art Nouveau elements seamlessly blend with international decorations throughout the space. Notably, life-sized copper-wrought elephant heads on either side of the entrance serve as the company’s trademark and remain a popular photo spot for today’s visitors.
The cafe offers an array of coffee specialties sourced from the traditional roastery J. J. Darboven, a roaster with over 150 years of history from Hamburg. Among their menu items, the Mexikaner stands out—an enticing blend of coffee and hot chocolate infused with their own chocolate. To sweeten your visit, indulge in the multitudes of fresh cakes from local pastry shops, as well as Leipzig Lerchen, a delicious marzipan tart with the iconic ‘X’ marking.
Open daily including Sundays, this cafe provides a delightful opportunity to savor coffee, confections, and a piece of Leipzig’s rich coffee history. Visitors can also find souvenirs to remember their experience, like postcards of the cafe’s distinguished facade.
Annette and Mario Rose, passionate coffee lovers, fulfilled their dream of opening their own roastery in November 2018. Located in the Leipzig Bachviertel, their coffee venture has added their signature scent to the neighborhood. The Elstermühle roastery offers a diverse range of espressos, blends, and single origin coffees.
What sets their coffee apart is their uncommon roasting philosophy, summed up as “Because the first is better.” Unlike traditional Italian coffee roasts that aim for the second crack during roasting, Elstermühle ends the roasting process after the first. This approach yields light roasted coffee beans with a golden brown hue and fine fruity notes. Their goal is to highlight the delicate and fruity flavor profile while allowing the natural flavors to shine through.
The Roses are more than happy to share their roasting expertise and philosophy with customers and offer a chance to taste the difference between “First Crack” and “Second Crack” coffees. With a bright and airy space located just north of the extensive Clara-Zetkin Park, the Elstermühle roastery invites visitors to view their roasting operations. They also provide specially roasted blends for events and local companies, contributing to the vibrant coffee scene in Leipzig.
Bohemian Kids, a charming cafe nestled in Leipzig’s city center, shares its location humorously as “right next to Leipzig’s oldest erotic shop.” The cafe is the brainchild of Bara and Michael, former law students in Münster who decided to pursue coffee instead. Their shared dream led them to open Bohemian Kids, and they haven’t looked back since. They revel in the joy of turning their passion into a career, waking up early each day with the certainty that they made the right choice.
What sets Bohemian Kids apart is their dedication to making every guest feel at home. With a devoted team in place, they serve up their quality coffee and homemade cakes. And for those who want more, they’ve launched an online shop, their second project, so patrons can enjoy their carefully selected products from the comfort of your own home.
This cafe is a hotspot in the city, open seven days a week, offering a vegan-forward breakfast and lunch menu. While the indoor seating is cozy, it’s the expansive outdoor street seating that fills up quickly. Coffee enthusiasts will appreciate their use of the Dalla Corte Icon espresso machine and beans from Prague-based Candycane Coffee. Plus, you can take a piece of Bohemian Kids home with you by picking up coffee supplies of beans, and branded cups and shirts.
Kalas Coffee is an exceptional coffee roastery founded in Seoul in 2010, with the Leipzig branch opening the summer of 2020. Ann and his dedicated team, along with their faithful canine companion Sozi, are committed to roasting top-quality to share with the community. Their passion for coffee is evident in their meticulous selection of premium coffee beans, which are expertly roasted with the goal to provide customers an unforgettable coffee experience.
Their commitment to exploring the entire range of coffee possibilities has earned awards, including Ann’s champion title in the Korea Coffee Roasting Championship and a third-place finish in the World Coffee Roasting Championship in 2015. The menu reflects their dedication to quality, featuring a selection of rotating hand-brews and espressos, as well as specialty lattes infused with unique flavors such as red plum.
Located on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in Leipzig’s Südvorstadt neighborhood, Kalas Coffee is a very welcome addition to the scene. Beyond exceptional coffee, Kalas offers an appealing selection of homemade treats, including cakes, croissants, and Korean-inspired dishes such as kimchi omurice. Behind its unassuming basement exterior lies the stylish café and charming garden, offering coffees from around the world.
Nikita Solberg is a coffee professional and freelance journalist based in Leipzig. Read more Nikita Solberg for Sprudge.