Google searches for tea or coffee in Luxembourg didn’t give us many options. And my memories from working here in the 1980s didn’t leave me with any must-see places for a cuppa.
But by the end of our day and a half in the place, we had a handful of recommendations, many of which came just from asking around locally and in one case from us spotting it as we walked past on the street. Just shows, you can’t find everything by internet searches, even today (though this blog will hopefully help future visitors to Luxembourg searching for good coffee, tea or cake…).
Actually our first port of call had come up on google. The Coffee Lounge is very central, right by the main bus station in the centre of town, on rue de la Poste.
This place has been there for some 10 years or so now. Run by friendly German, Peter Range, who moved into coffee from a career in banking, he gets his coffee direct from Italy, and has lot of enthusiastic Italian staff, including Simona who was on duty the morning we turned up.
You can have your coffee upstairs (on the 1st or 2nd floor), though don’t make my mistake and run into your own reflection if you turn the wrong way when you reach the next floor (yes, it’s a mirror, not a big wide space up there).
More popular – and the place we sat – is out the front under big umbrellas, which are also popular in winter when heaters keep the cold away. Lots of locals were having a swift coffee here on their way to work, and we thought we’d be back for a second cup later in the morning, having enjoyed our first coffee (with a nice piece of marble cake and freshly squeezed orange juice).
But as we paced the streets of the city centre, we then passed the Golden Bean on rue Chimay. This is actually much more in the speciality coffee shop vein we’d been looking for, with its options for V60, aeropress, filter etc.
It’s run by a Colombian who has a Spanish barista, Vanessa, who made us feel very welcome and was pleased to discuss the week’s options for espresso or cappuccino.
Best coffee in Luxembourg? My vote would probably go to the Golden Bean, but we enjoyed both venues and will include them both in our reviews on the Fancy a Cuppa website later.
Finding tea in Luxembourg was a tougher task.
An internet search had only given us the big German tea retailer Tee Geschwender, so we popped along there to see what they had to say.
There’s a fantastic selection of teas in Tee Geschwender and you can get them to put the kettle on for brief tastings. This is not a place to sit down for afternoon tea with scones or cake, though.
The extremely friendly ladies serving there did give us samples to take away and very kindly recommended we go for tea in Santos along Grand Rue.
Now, Santos is the local coffee roasting family; it’s been around since 1928, and here you can sit outside with a brew if you want.
Problem was, they only had in stock some mint tea and a green tea/matcha blend in bags – and they didn’t do any cake!
Unlike with our experience in Paris, though, the ladies at Santos were very keen to help out, and actually recommended we try a place round the corner from them that used tea from the same supplier and did an excellent loose leaf Darjeeling (they said!).
That’s how we found Namur, which has been supplier to the Luxembourg Court since the 19th century. It’s more of a bakers than a tea room, but with its décor reminding us of Bettys in Yorkshire, and cakes too, this was the place for us.
The frontage and signage looked like it hadn’t changed since about the 1920s, so I can’t believe I didn’t come to this place for tea when I worked here 30 years ago.
The tea was as good as the Santos ladies had said, and the cakes even better. A top tip for afternoon tea in Luxembourg.
This place was busy with locals from all walks of life. And everyone there seemed to know the system, which was about as complicated as it was buy a joint of meat or get vegetables in a Parisian market in the 1980s (it’s surely a system developed in the Soviet era in Moscow?).
If you’re planning a visit to Namur take note:-
You order your cake at the counter, not at your table, and are given a slip with the order written on it.
You choose a table and wait for the waitress, to whom you give your cake slip when you order the tea.
The cake is duly delivered by same waitress; and some minutes later come the pots of tea.
Paying is slightly less complex, though don’t expect to just go to the till or pay as soon as you finish. The waitress will leave your bill and only return some minutes later to deal with payment.
Ah, we wondered why everyone seemed to get those raspberry tarts before us.
And we couldn’t help wondering how we’d have coped if this had been in China, with my very limited linguistic skills. Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Meantime, I was surprised how much I enjoyed Luxembourg. Maybe I’d have liked life there more in 1985 if I’d had such good places for a cuppa?