Coffee in Warsaw

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If you still think that the best coffee in Europe is drunk in Italy or Portugal you should definitely come and try it in Warsaw. There is a whole movement there to introduce a new way of coffee making with lightly roasted beans to bring the real coffee flavour and its natural acidity.

It may be surprising to you but we have quite a long tradition of drinking coffee in Poland. It was introduced in our country 17th century and soon became so popular that richer households employed a special person, ‘a coffee maker’, to prepare their brews in the morning. And we love our coffee places, they play the same role as pub in the UK – this is where me meet, work sometimes and spend most of our weekends.

This is where I and my sister Marta go for coffee in Warsaw:

  1. Filtry (Niemcewicza 3) – Marta’s favourite café. Little, cute, off the beaten track and a perfect place to start your weekend. They are so crazy about their coffee that they run a regular blog to inform its clients (and fans) where their blends come from and who roasted them.
  2. SAM (Lipowa 7a) – and this is currently my favourite place in Warsaw. Cool but not pretentious, with great food and probably the best bread in Poland (available to take away as well). It’s quite close to the University Library (a building worth checking as well) in a nice, fashionably run down street in Powiśle. I love the eclectic mixture of people they attract – students, hipster mums with their even more hipster babies, businessmen looking for a bite for lunch, few lost tourists, few celebrities and all those who know what’s going in Warsaw nowadays. It’s probably as close to my ideal café at the moment as it gets – my criteria change often though…
  3. Kubek w kubek (Grażyny 16) – my latest discovery. The street where it’s located reminds me a bit of Krakow (not the historical centre, rather those quirky streets somewhere off Karmelicka) but it’s not the main reason why I go there. Date where the coffee was roasted is marked on the board at the board along with its flavour – for me it tastes of coffee rather than citrus, chocolate and nuts though. Great lunches at great prices, nice cakes (including gluten-free options) and completely relaxing atmosphere.
  4.  MiTo (Waryńskiego 28) – some say it’s best coffee in Warsaw at the moment. The place itself is bit cold and modern for my taste (with some seriously disturbing modern art) but their coffee is definitely worth trying.
  5. Relaks (Puławska 48) – maybe not the most friendly place on earth, not my sort of atmosphere but their espressos have probably the purest taste of coffee I have ever experienced! So despite being slightly afraid of their baristas (I have a feeling they will tell me off one day for using sugar with their perfect coffees) I will be coming back and I advise you the same.
  6. Kafka (Oboźna 3) – reminds me of my first trips to Warsaw where I didn’t know that much of the city. It lost its charm a bit now but their coffees are still perfect and their deckchairs the most comfortable in the whole city!

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Burger mania in Warsaw

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With self-made bread, organic cheese and best quality Polish beef burgers took over Warsaw culinary scene. What we once considered symbols of fast food is now organic, homemade, gourmand and not that cheap any more. Best burger bars are so popular that it may take even up to an hour of queuing during the busiest time to order your favourite sandwich. Apart from classical versions with cheese or bacon you can choose ones with eggs, salmon or even venison.

If you want to come and try yourself these are our choices:

Burger Bar (Olkuska 2) located between a kebab stand and scrap yard is run by a young guy who escaped from corporate life to open one of the most popular places in Warsaw at the moment. Local culinary gurus, students, young professionals from nearby offices, celebrities they all love his burgers and wait patiently for their turn in long queues.

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Warburger (corner of Puławska and Dąbrowskiego streets) is our latest discovery. Tiny, cosy, a little bit posh, a little bit hipster – it has everything what young Varsovians like most. Plus they keep you healthier after eating all those burgers by offering free apples for dessert.

Prosta historia (Francuska 24) is for those who prefer to sit down while eating their food. Beautiful spot in one of the nicest parts of Warsaw – Saska Kępa.

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And for the most expensive and poshest burger in Warsaw (if not in the whole Europe!) try our new favourite steak place – Butchery and Wine (Żurawia 22).

And tomorrow our last Warsaw story this week – we will let you know where cool Polish people drink their coffee.

Photos: Warburger, Warburger, Butchery and Wine

Where to eat and drink in Warsaw

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If yesterday’s photos convinced you to book a trip to Warsaw then check our favourite secret places to eat, drink and buy food in the Polish capital:

Breakfast

- SAM (Lipowa 7) – great coffee, great food and great company. Plus nice location in the heart of Warsaw’s coolest district, Powiśle.

Bulke

- Bułkę przez Bibułkę (Puławska 24) – ultimate breakfast experience! There is nothing on their menu I wouldn’t like to try.

Lunch

- Kubek w kubek (Grażyny 16) – hidden gem in a quiet part of Makotów; lunch manu changes daily, perfect also for those who try to avoid gluten as they always serve at least one gluten-free cake

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- Qchnia artystyczna (Jazdów 2) – eclectic design which changes daily, great view over a park and Polish food with a twist.

Dinner
- Butchery and Wine (Zurawia 22) – the best steak in the city! And poshest burgers you can imagine.

12 stolkow

- 12 stolików (Krucza 16/22) – very small (only 12 tables as the name suggests) but perfect for a nice romantic dinner. And a great selection of really good wines.

Coffee
- MiTo (Waryńskiego 28) – very eccentric design but don’t let it mislead you! Those guys really know how to make coffee. Plus can talk about it for ages.
Kafka (Oboźna 3) – really charming and cosy. If it’s sunny and warm you can use their deckchairs to rest outside after your sightseeing.

Markets
– Hala Mirowska (Plac Mirowski 1) – real old-school Polish shopping experience. And typical Warsaw atmosphere.

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- Koszyki (Koszykowa 63) – this is hipsters answer to markets. Only local, only organic and only handmade. Plus two bars if you get thirsty during shopping.

And Vodka

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- Czysta Ojczysta (Ząbkowska 27/31) – travelling to Warsaw and not trying our vodka? Not possible. Try this bar opened in an old Vodka Brewery – they claim to serve over 50 different kinds of vodkas!

Tomorrow why Warsaw got crazy about burgers. And where to buy the best ones!

More reading – NY Times guide to eating in Warsaw

Photo credits: Qchnia, Bułke przez Bibułkę, Qchnia, 12 stolików, Koszyki, Czysta Ojczysta

Warsaw under construction

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Warsaw is a city in transition – sitting somewhere between communism and capitalism, a city constantly under construction where things change every day and where nothing is really defined for good yet.
It’s vibrant and full of contrast – with busy city life and a skyline to prove it, forgotten streets in the old town and the best local spots hidden well from strangers.

Małgośka Szumowska, a Polish director originally coming from Krakow but living in Warsaw at the moment asked about what attracts her so much to her new hometown said:

“I think that Warsaw is a very modern city. In many ways it reminds of Berlin. It follows its own direction. Paris, no the contrary, is an already established, bourgeois city, and in spite of appearances not that much happens there in cultural sense. Warsaw, on the other hand, is a melting pot in which different opinions, attitudes, right- and left-wing youth clash. France is an established democracy. Warsaw is much more interesting.”

I wouldn’t phrase it better!
If you agree with us or would like to check Warsaw yourself check our blog tomorrow to learn about our favourite cafes, restaurants and markets in the Polish capital.

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Reference: film.onet.pl

Photo credits: Magic Ketchup / Foter / CC BY-NC-SAArtur Malinowski / Foter / CC BYapeirophilia / Foter / CC BY-NC-SASmo_Q / Foter / CC BYMonika Kostera (urbanlegend) / Foter / CC BY-SAcentralniak / Foter / CC BYDaniel*1977 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Weekend Reading

My biggest Saturday morning pleasure? A little espresso in a café in Krakow and Wysokie Obcasy.

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Wysokie Obcasy (High Heels) is one of my favourite magazine – it’s published on Saturdays as an addition to ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ paper and aimed mostly to women.

It has all those sections you would expect from a women’s magazine: cooking, fashion, beauty but it writes to women who want a bit more than looking good. You don’t have to be a young skinny top model to be on its cover, they don’t interview celebrities known for being known but instead ask difficult question to interesting people. It’s sometimes provocative, sometimes annoyingly feminist, sometimes too modern but never boring.

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If I couldn’t speak Polish I would learn it just to be able to ready ‘Wysokie Obcasy’.

Pretty Things

In the 80s’ enamel cookware was the only one available in Poland and it definitely wasn’t what we dreamt to have in our kitchens. It looked cheap, somehow dated, too common, and we wanted all those stainless, glossy, glamorous pots which made western households look so attractive…
Few years later and what once looked tacky and ugly is now an object of desire!

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Emalia Olkusz produces enamel pots and other kitchenware since 1907 and I don’t think there is a Polish house that, at least at some point, wouldn’t have an enamel saucepan with poppy flowers, teddy bears or plums for boiling potatoes. Time to take them out from the darkest corners of your shelves – they are cool again.

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I want these in my kitchen, too:

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Check Emalia’s webshop if you have fallen in love with these utensils as much as I did. I particularly like their Nostalgia line (their prices too!).

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All photos – Emalia Olkusz

What to do in Poland in Autumn

If after our yesterday’s photo story you decided to go and see yourself autumn in Poland here is our simple guide on what to do, eat, visit and see there this season.

Go mushroom hunting

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When we were little my grandma would have taken us to the forest with her to show us the best places to find mushrooms, how to distinguish the good from the poisonous ones and how to pick them correctly so that they can grow next year too.

Picking up mushrooms in autumn in Polish forests has a very long tradition. Whoever can leads to the forests – on their own, with their families or even with organised trips. We are so passionate about this hobby that we don’t mind leaving as early as 4am as this is apparently the best time for mushroom hunting. And after such a busy day in nature’s bosom nothing tastes better than split pea soup with bacon or some hot cabbage stew eaten outside.

If you feel knowledgeable enough about mushroom feel free to try yourself.
Forests in Poland are quite common (they cover more or less 25% of our territory) all public and easily accessible and it’s legal to pick mushrooms or fruits (i.e. blueberries) there.
If you are not lucky and don’t find many mushrooms you can at least enjoy beautiful Polish nature!

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Try this year’s ogórki kiszone
Ogórki kiszone are a great institution in Polish homes. I can’t imagine any holidays or even larger winter lunch without them. They work with souses, add some edginess to salads or meats, are a best accompaniment to a polish pate or can be simple eaten on its own with a shot of vodka. As a great source of vitamin C they keep us going through the whole winter and protect from colds. The brine is, as well, a miraculous handover cure and has a very good effect on the whole digestive system.
It’s believed that Napoleon himself appreciated their taste and took some with him while heading to Russia through Poland. Who knows, maybe if he took enough of them for his whole army as well they wouldn’t suffer so much during cold Russian winters and the fate of the battle would be completely different…

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We start pickling ogórki in mid August and early autumn is a perfect time to open your first jars – I am sure you will take some home!

Get lost in Kraków cafés
There are no better places to spend early autumn days. Perfect for any time of the day and any weather. Some say that after introducing the smoke ban few years ago they are not the same any more but in my opinion they haven’t lost any of their charm!

For the best places go to Kazimierz (old Jewish quarter) – this is where the coolest people spend their days (and nights) over an espresso (or something much stronger) in the mist of intellectual discussions.

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We reccomend:
Kolory (Estery 10) –  for the best espresso in this part of Europe
Alchemia (Estery 5) – among many things for Cracow Jazz Autumn Festival!
– Or Singer (Estery 20) where old fashion Singer sewing machines replaced the tables.

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Drink plum vodka (if you dare)
Plums are my favourite autumn fruits and I like them in any form – in cakes, juices, sauces, jams or dried with cheese. Plum vodkas are produced across most of the Central Europe but we believe the Polish version is best of course.

Our śliwowica traditionally made in Łącko (small town in the south of Poland) where ‘virtually every farmer is known to distil his own brand’, has between 70 to 80% of pure alcohol. Try if you dare!

And check museums in Warsaw

If you think museums are boring you should definitely visit Warsaw and check how interesting they can be. They are modern, cool, interactive and perfect for those colder autumn days…

For those who want to learn something about Warsaw Uprising- Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego

For children (both and small) who love science – Centrum Nauki Kopernik

Those who want to learn more about Chopin, his life, music, women of his life and what he thought about Scottish people – Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina

And those who like modern art should definitely go to Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski. If you get hungry while exploring, one of my favourite restaurants in Warsaw, Qchnia Artystyczna, is on the other side of the castle.

Have fun!

Photo credits: Monika Chodakowska, Hejma / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND, Monika Chodakowska, erzyW / Foter / CC BY-NC-NDDanny. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SAAndrew Stawarz / Foter / CC BY-ND