One of the most interesting things about having tea and coffee in 25 different countries must surely be the changes in what constitutes ‘normal’.
My early memories of having cappuccino in Germany involved towering foam overspilling the edges of large cups, and often marshmallows thrown in for good measure. A ‘normal’ coffee, on the other hand, was a rather bitter black concoction, to which many would add ‘kaffee Sahne’, a kind of processed creamy ‘milk’ that made it more or less palatable.
We arrived in Trier early in the morning and headed straight for a place that had had reasonable reviews on google, and occupied a beautiful building (rather along the lines of Starbucks in some old UK towns and cities).
The coffee – and the service – was indifferent, though, and by the end of our time in Germany, we had realised that it was actually part of a German chain. In a sense, a good test of my palate, which spotted the lower quality at the first taste.
Sadly a tip from a local Trier historian was received on twitter only after we left town, so we weren’t able to check how good the bookshop café he recommended was.
Instead, we lingered for a while at Casa del Caffé which sits right on Trier’s market place, so is perfect for people-watching.
Service here was great. Mr Hoffmann (no first names here in Germany!) clearly knew lots of his regulars and was very patient and attentive as I threw various questions at him about the coffees on offer and how I could have them.
They had a rather tempting ‘specials’ board with Ethiopian Sidamo and Jamaican Blue Mountain on it, but the espresso machine only had a robusta-based Indonesian.
Of course, the Italian style of coffee traditionally sees the ‘right’ blend of robusta and Arabica making the perfect coffee, whereas 100% Arabica has become the norm in most of the speciality coffee sector these days.
The cappuccino was decent enough (and the froth not too towering…), but I needed to try something better to have with the Sacher Torte I had spotted out the back.
So ‘normal’ coffee it was, which of course with Jamaican Blue Mountain makes for a pretty nice cuppa, beautifully served with a small jug of hot milk and a small glass of water to wash away the robusta taste in my mouth.
I liked this place, and the morning was rounded off beautifully when we engaged in conversation with our neighbour in the café, who turned out to be a kindred spirit with a yearning for travelling and discovering extraordinary places. So, thanks to history student Ingo for the excellent company and discussion of Trier, travel and tourism.
In Nuremberg, we found a big industrial-sized place in the town centre, which we didn’t actually try after our Trier experience with the chain.
The small independent coffee shop we found was closed for summer holidays…until 9 September! I guess their main client base must be students, but even so it did seem an extraordinarily late return for a high street coffee shop.
We did have some success in Nuremberg, though the quality of tea was better than the coffee, funnily enough.
Café Violetta is housed in a beautiful building not far from the river. Top tip if you’re going there and there are only two of you: get one of the small tables in the windows upstairs where you get fresh air (quite hot inside) and can people-watch down in the street below.
Coffee is from Caffe Vergnano 1882 so not a bad quality, but certainly not a local roaster and not in the league of some of the coffee we’d had in Paris, say.
But the tea at Café Violetta was top notch. They had a great range of loose leaf teas from Ronnefeldt and from Ov (the latter I hadn’t had before, though the former I’d had just recently in Cirencenster!).
So, excellent teas and great cakes with lots of seasonal fruit, with lovely arty décor makes Café Violetta our favourite place for a cuppa in Nuremberg.
Earlier in the day we had found the amazing Wurzelsepp tea and spice store, right on the Haupt Markt (market place). This fantastic shop has been in business since 1933, and I’m guessing some of the spice drawers may even date from then.
The tea is under their own branding, though, and looked superb. Trouble was, like many tea retailers in Germany, you could not do more than taste a sample in the shop. So we had to ask where in town we could get a pot of their tea.
W2 bar sits right on the Nuremberg river. It is not the kind of place we’d normally choose, with its hybrid functions of cocktail bar and evening meals as well as ‘tea room’, but the tea quality was a delight, with a great range of Darjeelings and Assams right up our street.
My plum cheesecake was pretty delicious, too, though not everyone found the lemon cake to their liking. But if you’re in Nuremberg, you really should make sure you try Wurzelsepp tea, so if you don’t fancy W2, go back to the shop and ask where else sells their brews.
A final word on coffee and tea in Germany: we made a small excursion to a village some 50k from Nuremberg, where we stopped for tea/coffee and more cake.
The coffee at Inselblick in Lungsdorf was about the best we had in the area, though I’m still not convinced about the idea of drinking my latte macchiato through a straw…
And the tea was also excellent (coming from Eilles Tee). I don’t know how many villages in other countries would have such a great range of Darjeeling 2nd flush, Assams and green or fruit teas.
So hats off to Inselblick and especially to Bernd Stuerzenhofecker, who bakes the traditional Frankish cakes fresh every day.
And on now to Austria, also famed for its great coffee houses and cakes. Might need new trousers soon as this rate.