These days it seems that not a week goes by without a new coffee house cranking up its chrome espresso machine somewhere in Prague. Despite this, it’s rare that I find a place that has a real wow factor. Everyone’s check list for the perfect cafe is, of course, different. I go not so much for the beverages but for somewhere to seek sanctuary. Peace, quiet, somewhere to get some headspace – if we’re honest, doesn’t that matter just as much as the provenance of the beans?
Friends raved to me about CoffeeHouse a year ago but I had others places to hit on my café crawl itinerary. Now that I’ve finally made it down to this end of Francouzská (for once, I’m writing this review in situ – check out my time management skills), I’m happy to report that this gem more than lives up to the hype.
A bit of background—CoffeeHouse Prague is also the bricks and mortar store for the Coffee Source roastery which sells speciality beans over the internet. The moment you walk through the door and spot the vintage coffee silo dispenser packed with beans from Ethiopia to Ecuador, it’s clear that this is a place where a hipster barista might stop by. Despite this, the café somehow manages to retain a homey, unpretentious feel. It is replete with nooks to nestle in: there’s a cosy room with three or four tables (made from vintage sewing machines!) inside along with a table for two in the corridor. The real showstopper though has to be the outdoor seating area which is, as my uber-trendy younger cousins would say, amazeballs.
I grab a bench in the pergola with its hessian coffee sack roof and a ceiling fan. From here, I have an excellent view of the garden — there are a couple of tables in the midst of the greenery where you can catch some rays — but remain in the shade and more importantly in range of a power socket.
It is almost as delightful as Cukrarna Alchymista’s gorgeous garden but more unkempt – and therefore all the more charming. I spend some time trying to identify the array of plants: there’s definitely some ivy, lots of colorful flowers in terracotta pots and a small tree which may or may not be a weeping willow. Carafes of tap water are on offer free of charge – a definite plus – and fizzy aqua is a mere 5CZK a 0.3litre bottle.
The only tiny fly in the ointment is that you can only order at the counter but the wait staff will bring your drinks to your table so you don’t have to stand around while they prepare them–unless you want to watch a bit of barista theatre. The homemade lemonades and ice teas on the menu are fantastically good value: a whole litre is only 60 CZK. Surely this is another sign that this a place where you’re positively encouraged to hang around?
Perhaps I have been brainwashed by “coffee is the new wine” crowd but I decide on an AeroPress coffee (50 CZK). The barista on duty recommends which single-origin bean to make it with: India Balmaadi is apparently her favorite as it has fruity undertones. Allegedly. Anyway, my order arrives promptly–just after I’ve organized my freelance nest of bags, laptop and other paraphernalia.
The quiet is spoiled only by another laptop owner gabbing into his mobile phone but hey, that’s a common hazard if you happen to chance upon such a great spot for home-officing. I console myself with a slice of chocolate and cherry cake (35 CZK). It doesn’t look like a showstopper but it manages to be both rich and sweet without being overwhelmingly sickly.
I make a return visit with a friend and her six month old baby girl a few weeks later. Unfortunately it happens to be raining and there are no seats on the porch. The barista on duty is more than happy to advice on a hot drink which would be suitable for a nursing mother: a rooibos cappuccino. In case you’re confused, the difference from a regular cappuccino is that tea is used rather than coffee and then infused with honey. The result was delicious.
This time I go for my usual cappuccino which is also very good and reasonably priced at only 35 CZK (50 CZK is starting to become the norm in Prague’s upmarket hangouts). We don’t hang around for long this time as Baby V starts to get antsy but Coffee Source’s lack of steps to negotiate at the entrance and overall laidback vibe make it like a family friendly haunt.
The only significant downer is that Coffee House is only open Monday to Friday so don’t bother rocking up on a Sunday hoping for somewhere to flick through your overpriced copy of The Observer.
Coffee Source, you could well be my new afternoon sanctuary in the city. How about opening at weekends to share the love with the 9-5 crowd?
Mon-Thurs 8:00 – 19:00
Fri 8:00 – 17:00
Brand of coffee: Coffee Source
Serves food: some cakes
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