One of the things I miss the most of Italy is having a small breakfast at a bar on the way to work. Even if I have never really worked in Italy.
There is something extremely enjoyable in this small daily pleasure: 10 minutes of official “but first coffee”.
I have given up the idea of having the full Italian experience with espresso macchiato at the counter, small talk with the bartender, fresh croissant filled with custard cream and a quick look at the newspaper; but I am determined to recreate a surrogate of this package for my Dutch daily routine and I am looking for the perfect place in Rotterdam to do so.
The habit of opening before nine is slowly growing among cafes in the city and it gave me the motivation to work on my small mission: on Thursdays (my last working day) and the whole week before going on holiday (because it gave the extra motivation needed) I have been ordering espresso macchiato at 12 different places between home and work (roughly between Oudedijk and Eendrachtsplein in Rotterdam) and I can definitely say that I have 3 favorites I would like to share.
HARVEST COFFEE BREWERS
This was my very favorite discovery. New in town, super central but in an off-beat street and with a real focus on coffee, Harvest Coffee Brewers has the whole package.
I arrived by bike and entered this souterrain café with a back view of the harbor and windows basically at water level. I sat at the counter-table, a very nice area shared between the customers and staff, with comfortable stools to properly sit. Right after I took my seat I was given the menu and a small pitcher of water with a glass and, because I already knew what I wanted, I directly asked for an espresso macchiato.
The barista immediately started preparing my order while having small talk with his colleagues and I could easily participate. When the coffee arrived, I grabbed a newspaper from the rack at the entrance and checked the highlight while sipping the delicious cup of coffee.
I paid at the register and noticed that they even have croissant and small pastries. The price of 3 euro was the main reminder that I was not in Italy where espresso (macchiato or not) ranges between 80 cents and 1 euro, but it’s so close to the Dutch average price that I would definitely agree on the extra value.
For years this has been one of my favorite coffee places in the city center, but I had never tried it before work and I wasn’t disappointed. Located on the side of the historical Laurenskerk, it has a beautiful terrace that lays in the soft sun of the early morning and a very cosy interior filled with books and a British feeling.
They don’t have pastries, but freshly baked cakes and they propose seasonal drinks (now for example it is a deluxe iced-coffee) that are in discount with the Rotterdampas.
Since I already knew what I wanted I entered and ordered my espresso macchiato and gave a notice that I would sit outside in the sun.
On the way I grabbed a newspaper and peacefully sat enjoying the view and the morning crowd.
Within a few minutes the waiter brought the coffee and a small pitcher of water. As usual, it was perfect and I kept on enjoying the pleasant temperatures for a couple of extra minutes before leaving.
Truth be told, this is really a great spot for a bit of a longer break, but even for 10 minutes it has a very relaxing effect.
When I arrived at the usual 8:45 the bakery was already up and running, people were sitting at the smart outdoor benches and the staff was happily setting up the counter.
As I saw that they have a company dog (and that he is not allowed to go outside) I immediately decided to take a seat inside, at the window. I ordered and paid at the counter and that gave me the chance to have a look at all the delicious-looking and freshly-baked pastries, cakes and bread.
I picked a newspaper on the way to my seat and within a couple of minutes I had my coffee, a glass of water, a small biscuit in front of me and a dog to play with.
All in all, this small bakery in the center of Rotterdam is a great place for a break: the staff is really friendly and the decor welcoming, the super cute company dog is also a great plus. They serve quite sour coffee, close to the taste of a decaf, I do prefer bitter flavors but it was a very nice blend.
Mention of honor goes to de Koffie Bar
They have been open from early in the morning since when I moved to Rotterdam and that shows that they knew a trend was surely coming.
In conclusion, it was a great experiment.
I learnt that the quality of the coffee in Rotterdam is quite high and that, once you have that covered, the speed is the most important factor in a quick coffee break. Espresso is meant to be drank quickly and when you feel like having one you don’t want to wait too long for it.
Atmosphere, friendliness of the staff, their interest in having a small chat and availability of newspapers are all great plusses to make the experience complete.