Flat Whites in Hamburg

When I’m in foreign places my best approach to finding a worthy café is to look at locals’ blogs’ “third wave coffee shops”.  Though of course more importantly I want to find my parents an excellent coffee so they don’t get grumpy (anecdote in Mexico City below).  But even if no-one is craving a coffee, I still enjoy laying back in these specialty coffee lounges for an artisan hot chocolate or dainty snack that appeals to the eye.  Every specialty coffee shop in Hamburg makes flat whites, while most other Hamburg cafés don’t yet.  So I decided to call this post “flat whites in Hamburg“.  It’s the cup of coffee that I always choose, so also the one that I am judging these twelve spots on. However, I could have just as well used the title specialty or third wave coffee shop.

Why is it actually called THIRD WAVE coffee shop? 

Short History:
1st Wave: exponential growth and mass production for coffee consumption at home (e.g. Folgers around 1800)
2nd Wave: importance of the bean’s origin and roasting style, global introduction to espresso drinks (cappuccino, latte…) (started by e.g. Peet’s and Starbucks around 1960)
3rd Wave: artisan coffee directly traded from specific farmers, gently roasted and treated like a jewel: depicting every flavour and made by professional baristas
The 4th wave is on it’s way as well: the concept of having artisan, high-quality roasts delivered to your home. (like octaviocoffee.com)

Hamburg is not famous for their third wave, but soon they might be.  Here are 12 great places spread around mostly the west of the Alster that are all worth visiting for their own flair.

What to expect of a Hamburg specialty coffee shop:

Apart from specialty coffee I think you can be sure to find rich CHEESECAKE at every of these shops.  (FYI Less Political did win an award for Hamburg’s best cheesecake, though my favorite was from Public Coffee Roasters).  Same thing goes for a self-serve, probably herb-infused, jug of FREE WATER with tiny glasses.  This truly still is uncommon in Hamburg’s ordinary cafés.

I’ve had a very hard time pondering about how to clearly differentiate all these third waves, so that you know which one best suits your needs.  But I came to the conclusion that since they are all third wave coffee shops in the same town, they have a grade of similarity that you can’t take away.  Thus, you don’t necessarily have to read through every description in detail, the map might be enough for you because they all serve top-notch flat whites.  But if you want to know which place is more neighbourhoody, trendy or international (☁︎), where to splurge on açai bowls, or devour NY cheesecake (🍰), taste a savoury meal (🍴) or have free wifi, then this will help.  And to give you a price feeling for this Hanseatic town, the flat whites range from 2,80€ to 3,60€.  However this weirdly has no correlation with the location and customer group.

Choose your specialty coffee shop by more than their flat whites:

BEST BREAKFASTS? Nord Coast (açai bowls, avo-toasts and waffles – near downtown), Balz und Balz (German open-faced sandwiches or scrambled eggs, waffles and fruit from Friday to Sunday – Eppendorf/Hoheluft), Public Coffee Roasters (Winterhude)

BEST LUNCHES? Balz und Balz (daily soups and meals (get inspired by their Instagram here)) and Elbgold both with bagels

VEGAN & GLUTEN-FREE PASTRIES? CODOS Brewbar (Schanze), Elbgold (Schanze, Eppendorf & Winterhude), Black Delight (Eimsbüttel)

LONGEST COFFEE MENU? Elbgold (Schanze, Eppendorf & Winterhude), Less Political (Schanze/Karo-Viertel)

COOLEST BARISTA? Linus from Tørnqvist (VW Coffee Truck)

COFFEE TABLE MAGS? Public Coffee Roasters (Neustadt and Winterhude), Stockholm Espresso Club (Uhlenhorst), Tørnqvist (VW Coffee Truck), Balz und Balz (Eppendorf/Hoheluft)

BEST PRICES?  Balz und Balz (Eppendorf/Hoheluft) – flat white 2,80€


CODOS Brewbar:

 espresso based drinks and brew coffee, hot chocolate, mocca, turmeric- matcha- & chai-latte, “High Fly” (mix of cacao, espresso, matcha)
☞ from a family roaster, whom they work together with in Hannover
🍰 American flair (but not too sweet!) pastries: home-baked cakes (pumpkin pound, almond lemon, cheesecake. . . ), brownies, energy balls, croissants
🍴 granola with soy or greek yogurt for breakfast
☁︎  tiny stand-up brewbar with knowledgable and friendly staff
🍼 organic cow, lactose free, soy, rice and oat milk
✤ barista sisters Katharina and Daniela lead this shop with passion and expertise and their choice as well as quality of pastries is definitely my favorite
• no bathroom, free wifi, Flat White 2,90€
👎🏼 Cons: not much space to sit, and you might stay up the whole night from “High Fly”
 my posttheir website, Bartelsstraße 26 (Sternschanze), Bahrenfelder Str. 156 (Ottensen)

Black Delight: 

espresso based drinks and brew coffee, Prana Chai, hot chocolate, fresh squeezed juices, fresh teas, soft drinks
☞ Black Delight Roaster from HH (not their own, but a cooperation), as well as onetake, HuntBrothers and more
🍰 different home-baked cakes (incl. cheesecake) and muffins, macaroons
🍴 a few sandwiches
☁︎ small, artistic, neighbourhoody Eimsbüttel-ish, unpretentious, mainly visited by regulars
🍼 local cow, lactose free and soy (soon oat) milk
✤ This third wave coffee shop lacks the hip, minimalistic and clean design inside.  But it’s one of our favourites due to the casualness and neighbourhood flair – it feels very true to itself.  And they mark off their stamp cards with a smeared C of espresso ink
• bathroom, free wifi, Flat White 3,30€
👎🏼 Cons: there is no written menu anywhere 😂
 my posttheir website, Eppendorfer Weg 67 (Eimsbüttel)

Less Political:

espresso based drinks and brew coffee, signature espresso drinks (✤), cereal coffee, hot chocolate, homemade (hot and cold) lemonades, soft drinks
☞ own roast (called Hermetic) and a few guest roasts
🍰 home-baked cakes, brownies, banana bread, muffins, cookies and croissants
🍴 muesli, organic fruit, whole grain veg. sandwiches (tomato-mozzarella or brie-honey-apple)
☁︎ industrial chic, bustling and vibrant, a very popular spot to meet and sip coffee
🍼 local cow and oat milk
✤ Their thick and silky cheesecake got chosen as the best in Hamburg! Less Political is hidden in a side street between the Schanze and the Karo-Viertel, once you enter, your amongst a crowd of people, calmly chatting, laughing and exchanging life thoughts (half of the time in English).  And they have a spectacular selection of creative espresso drinks: almond-/coconut-/ginger- . . . coffees with organic almond butter, coconut shreds, or infused ginger; also cereal based coffee (one of my favorite decaffeinated mylky drinks), homemade hot lemonade, or a cappuccino brûlée 😜
• bathroom, free wifi, Flat White 2,90€
👎🏼 Cons: very busy, the almond from the almond coffee settled too much to the bottom
 their website, Sternstraße 68 (Sternschanze)


espresso based drinks and brew coffee, fresh teas, different hot chocolates, chai latte (David Rio), hot milk’n’honey, fresh squeezed o-juice, soft drinks
☞ three of their own roasts and a guest roast
🍰 cakes, tarts, croissants, pain au chocolate
🍴 freshly made sandwiches (with chewy tasty german bread rolls)
☁︎ old milk store from the 50ies turned into a bright, vintage styled kitchen café
🍼 organic and local cow, lactose-free and soy milk
✤ owned by Nico Ueckermann, a dog lover – but since owning a dog in big cities is iffy, he photoshoots all dogs accompanying a guest in his shop which is located in beautiful area to stroll around (in the Portugiesenviertel, by Michel church, Neustadt, Landungsbrücken)
• bathroom, wifi only sometimes works, Flat White 3,30€ (cash only)
 my posttheir website, Ditmar-Koel-Straße 22 (Landungsbrücken)


ONLY: flat white, hand brew, latte, espresso; tea, local hot chocolate, soft drinks
☞ changing regularly from some of the finest roasteries in Scandinavia
🍰 cheesecake, croissant, home-baked Kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon roll) by a friend, organic chocolate sandwich
🍴 organic cheese sandwich
☁︎ small, puristic, highest quality, all organic, laid back
🍼 organic cow and oat milk
✤ owned by coffee connoisseur Linus who dedicated this to his grandmother after she passed away;  he is now living a life he loves in this laid back coffee shop where customers turn into friends
• no bathroom, no wifi, Flat White 3,50€
👎🏼 Cons: they’re only gonna make you what they want, no special wishes and not for the rushed civils
 my post, VW Coffee Truck with locations here, soon their own shop in Sternschanze and a second smaller shop name Sixteen Squares in St. Pauli

Public Coffee Roasters (Neustadt):

espresso based drinks and brew coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks
☞ own coffee roasts (four espresso, four filter)
🍰 cheesecake with raspberry sauce (my favorite), croissant, maybe brownies
🍴 müsli with fruit and yogurt, sandwiches
☁︎ small, puristic, languorous or relaxed and private flair, neighbourhoody, coffee table mags
🍼 local cow and soy milk
✤ stands out from the others for some reason; instead of everything puristically white, Public’s walls are painted complete black decorated with string art and nice cacti from Winkel van Sinkel next-door
• bathroom, NO wifi, Flat White 3,20€
👎🏼 Cons: the rich part of my hot chocolate all settled to the bottom of the cup so it was quite plain except for a delicious rich last sip 😉
 their website, Wexstraße 28 (Neustadt)

Public Coffee Roasters (Winterhude):

espresso based drinks and brew coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks, smoothies and fresh juices
☞ own coffee roasts (four espresso, four filter)
🍰 large selection of homemade cakes with samples at the bar, brownies, croissant
🍴 overnight oats, avocado toast and other tartines, delicate healthy tapas plates (avocado with lime, radish and parmesan and daily specials like watermelon, feta, coconut foam)
☁︎ spacious and light, calm, brick walled interior, warehouse-shic, reminds me of Berlin, great for laptop working
🍼 local cow and soy milk
✤ you might not come, because you think it’s in “posh Winterhude” but that’s not the vibe at all – this coffee shop feels a step closer to the Melbourne/Berlin style
• bathroom, free wifi, Flat White 3,30€ 
👎🏼 they stand out for Hamburg, but the breakfast menu would have to be more especial if in were in Melbourne or Berlin (though for Hamburg it’s quite on the top)
 their website, Goldbekplatz 1 (Winterhude)

Playground Coffee: 

Playground Coffee has three locations by now.  A little niche in the entrance of Otto’s burger, their own cool coffee shop in hip St. Pauli, and a little stand downtown.  I will refer to the Otto’s Burger niche after the “//” for some categories below.

espresso based drinks and brew coffee, Prana Chai, hot chocolate, soft drinks
☞  7 different of their own roasts
🍰 a few different pastries // Otto’s Burgers dessert like cheesecake, ice cream and seasonal specials
🍴 none in St. Pauli // (their niche at Otto’s: burgers, fries, salads. . .)
☁︎ playful, friendly instagrammable interior for plant lovers full of hanging cacti, Viva Mexico chairs, felt cushions and turquoise/green tints
🍼 local cow milk, oat milk
✤ very humorous, ironic and lively baristas (almost look like twins with their round matching glasses)
•  bathroom, wifi, Flat White 3,40€ // bathroom, NO wifi, Flat White 3,40€
👎🏼 Cons: hmmmm… some other coffee shops might be jealous of them
 my post on Otto’stheir website, Detlev-Bremer-Straße 21 (St.Pauli), + entrance niche at Otto’s Burger (Grindelhof 33), + little kiosk on weekdays in downtown (Rathaus-Passage)

Balz und Balz:

espresso based drinks and brew coffee, fresh tea, local hot chocolate, soft drinks, fresh squeezed juice, wine
☞ roasts by jb in Munich (owner of Standl 20) and a guest roast
🍰 home-baked, varying German Blechkuchen (e.g. apple cake, cherry crumble, Linzer Torte, chocolate crumble cheesecake) and a very popular (!) cinnamon roll
🍴 German open faced sandwiches (mostly meat, one veggie), weekend breakfasts with eggs, fruit, waffles (menu here)
☁︎ modest and warm, very popular, one large table and many sets of two where locals often get some mac-work done (such as arranging appointments with model agencies or updating social media (those were my observations at least 😉)
🍼 local cow, lactose-free and oat milk
✤ owned by siblings Kathrin and Chris who love coffee, good Stullen and thus their job
• bathroom, free and fast wifi, Flat White 2,80€
👎🏼 Cons: not as idiosyncratic as I would wish for
 my posttheir website, Lehmweg 6 (Hoheluft/Eppendorf)

Nord Coast:

 espresso based drinks and brew coffee, tea, hot chocolate, fresh squeezed juices, homemade lemonades, soft drinks
☞ 6 different of their own roasts
🍰 very dainty desserts: tiny cheesecakes, croissant, Franzbrötchen, brownies, large selection of sweet waffles (they’re awesome!), açai bowl
🍴 avo-toast w/ poached egg, quinoa fritters (gluten free or vegan), lox red beet toast, acai and matcha-mango bowl, paninis, quinoa bowl (all served till 15:00 on weekdays) . . .
☁︎ spacious, hip place to meet, all is made very fine with love and attention to the details,
🍼 local cow and oat milk
✤ opened in 2015 by the couple and coffee specialists and lovers Jörn and Paula (she grew up in Brazil spending summers at her grandparents’ coffee farm)
• bathroom, free wifi, Flat White 3,30€
👎🏼 Cons: hard to find a spot, no table service, small & pricey portions
 my posttheir website, Deichstraße 9 (between downtown and Speicherstadt)


numerous espresso based drinks and brew coffee, tea, various hot chocolates and chais (David Rio), frappés, cascara tea, fresh squeezed o-juice, Lebeleicht juices, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages
☞ numerous own roasts (freshly roasted in the branch in the Schanze)
🍰 various (also vegan and gluten-free) home-baked goods: cakes, banana bread, brownies, pies, muffins, cruffins, tartes, cookies, bars . . . and croissants, granola, fruit salad, bagels & breads with sweet toppings
🍴 different bagels/baguette/whole grain rolls/sourdough sandwiches . . . with different toppings (e.g. cream cheese-lox, vegan spread, tomato-arugula-mozarella etc.)
☁︎ bobo, spot to chat with familiars, spacious with cozy spots to work on weekday mornings but bustling on weekends (Schanze)
🍼 local cow, low-fat, lactose-free and soy milk
✤ make sure to get Yuri’s latte art (in the Schanze) and tag him with #theBaristaYuri! and Elbgold gets credit for bringing today’s coffee culture to Hamburg
• bathroom, NO wifi, Flat White 3€
👎🏼 Cons: a bit less idiosyncratic
 my posttheir website, Lagerstraße 34c (Sternschanze), Eppendorfer Baum 26 (Eppendorf) Mühlenkamp 6A (Uhlenhorst)

Stockholm Espresso Club:

espresso based drinks and brew coffee, teas, David Rio chai, hot chocolate, milk’n’honey, fresh squeezed juices, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages (incl. Swedish craft beer)
☞ Koppi Roasters from Sweden (and Germany wide distributors of Koppi)
🍰 home-baked variety of cakes or crumbles, banana bread, muffins, cookies, croissant, Kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon roll), sweet bagels
🍴 large variety of bagels prepared on spot (pastrami, salmon, chicken ceaser, veggie . . . )
☁︎ international, bobo, coffee table mags, lots of friends chatting on a coffee and cake, good laptop working spot on weekdays
🍼 local cow, lactose free and oat milk
✤ all drinks are served in these carved in whiskey and long drink glasses – it looks awesome
• bathroom, free wifi, Flat White 3,60€
👎🏼 Cons: not very attentive service, a bit pricey
 their website, Peter-Marquard-Straße 8 (Uhlenhorst)

* When my mom and I were in Mexico this summer it took till our last day in the capital to find a decent coffee.  We went from shop to shop, suffering through some really bad moods, following locals’ favorites never finding a cappuccino that wasn’t drowned in milk.  The mistake was that I had searched for the best coffee shops in town and not the third wave coffee shops.  Eventually we found El Chiquitito in Condesa (which is the most lively, cheerful district full of cafés and joggers).  Not only did we enjoy perfect flat whites but the owner taught us a lot about the coffee culture in our world today.  And he even told us all other 3rd waves he new of in CDMX:  Cucurucho Café, Casa Cardinal, Almanegra, Café CentroAvellaneda  . . .  There’s more if you google, but these are a local’s tips!

The Waves of Coffee – First, Second, Third and Fourth Waves of Coffee

The History of First, Second, and Third Wave Coffee | Craft Beverage …

Third wave of coffee – Wikipedia

The Three Waves of Coffee / The Reading Room – Coffee Kind

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  1. February 20, 2017

    I LOVE this Guide! So helpful! When I moved back to Hamburg last year I was seriously wondering why so many cafés DON’T do flat whites, help! But I found some which are also on your list but so many new inspirations! Thank you!

  2. […] ice cream store I have been too, with stools and design matching this theme. One of Hamburg’s specialty coffee shops is called Playground Coffee . . . though that’s a playground for mid 20ies to 30ies.  Eis […]

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