It’s been a relaxed and sultry summer in Berlin despite the demonstrations that have taken place over the conflict in Gaza. The usual crowds are filling the Biergartens, Eiscafes, and coffee houses in search of their refreshment of choice. Absent an invitation to demonstrate for a lasting peace and a two-state solution, I’ve opted for coffee research over political activism for the time being. Little did I know that following the java trail in Berlin would be the latest of many recent “I must be over the hill” experiences.
As if I hadn’t already been left in the dust by all the newest technological and cultural trends, I’ve now discovered that I’m on the sidelines of Berlin’s “third wave coffee” culture. While I prowl the streets of Berlin in search of old world cafes that remind me of the places my nana and papa brought me as a child, the rest of Berlin’s coffee addicts are sipping flat whites in bare bones coffee shrines tucked into hip little pockets of the urban landscape. Even the rich and blood-pumping brew that I used to drink on a daily basis at Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley no longer makes the cut among those who’ve relegated that cuppa joe to the Second Wave.
To initiate ourselves, Brian and I are making our way through Slow Travel Berlin’s Guide to Berlin’s 3rd Wave Coffee Shops. Aside from a few lukewarm espresso drinks at places I won’t mention, our third wave coffee tour has pumped some energy into our limbs during hot summer afternoons in the city. Am Ende der Welt has come closest to serving up the perfect cup, and it’s not as hard to find as the name suggests. But I’m not yet ready to give up my quest for old world cafe culture. Fortunately we’ll be in Leipzig next week where we’ll have a chance to stop in at one of the oldest coffee houses in Europe.