So what concept should go over well in Bucharest? As we travel from coffee shop to coffee shop in search of a “daily” place to sit, hangout, chat, get some internet work accomplished, and most of all enjoy a cup of near PERFECT coffee, we are met with miserable failure. Bucharest, and Eastern Europe in particular is awash with soulless, emotionless, modern renditions of what are essentially sterile “cafes” at best. We have the Lavazza, DonCafe, Segafredo, and the occasional Illy to round out the coffee brands that are “served” in Bucharest. “Served” remains in quotes as it is near impossible to take that word seriously in Bucharest, Romania. Put simply, the coffee here is mud (measured in viscosity one would imagine), the service blows, and the atmosphere is in some instances a notch higher than finding a nice noisy corner of your local IKEA store. Don’t get us wrong however, there are a very few decent coffee shops, some of which we do recommend on this site, but nothing along the lines of what is possible to create. There is certainly room in the local marketplace (even during this economic time period) for a premium 5-star gourmet coffee shop. What do we mean by a 5-star premium coffee shop? We are not talking about the highly commercialized concept of burnt-coffee bean, Big Mac-in-a-cup frappa whatevers, like Star Bucks, or the like. Here is a story to help “imprint” this image upon a struggling Bucharest niche:
While two of us expatriates were living in South Carolina a few years back, we would regularly go to what was essentially our “favorite” spot to be. This place was named Coffee and Crema, currently located in Greenville South Carolina. You can view their site at www.coffeeandcrema.com. The reason this was our favorite place was simple; the best coffee and the best service; two things Bucharest coffee shops are missing almost entirely. We would go in to this coffee shop (at the time a little hole in the wall spot in the local mall) on a near daily basis. As entrepreneurs and real estate investors, most of our business was mobile, so we had the “luxury” of doing this (the cool thing is that this niche of self-employment is growing, so the need for a great “outside place of business and pleasure” should be increasing). We were first drawn to this coffee shop by the absolutely amazing aroma of fresh-brewed coffee and then following that, the extreme effort and care which was put in to pouring that “perfect” cup of coffee or espresso (not to mention the perfection was consistent). Aside from the outstanding quality, the service and friendliness of the staff, this is a place someone could go and chat, focus on any work that needed to be done, interact with everything coffee and tea going on around you (listen to pleasant music… not the trance-dance-euro-garbage overplayed in Bucharest) all the while being within an atmosphere that one would associate with a good fresh cup of coffee brewed from beans brought from the finest plantations and roasters around the World. No “House Blend” here!
To get a feeling of a truly great “old world” as we call it, style coffee shop, also take a glance at Cafe Intermezzo in Atlanta, Georgia. This is yet again another coffee shop that went over extremely well, and of course, features a full list of premium coffees, not just a list of different “methods” for drinking the same brand of coffee. Ethiopian Yrgacheffe? Kenya AA? Hawaiian Kona? Tanzanian Peaberry? Guatemala Antigua? Yeah, they’ve got all that.
When is the last time you had a properly pulled espresso in Bucharest? A properly brewed french press? Let us know so we can review them!
So does Bucharest have room for a “Fine” gourmet coffee shop with all the amenities and services one would expect? All rolled into an atmosphere adequate for such an establishment? Can the finish the coffee shop in materials not pulled from IKEA’s discount rack? Can they manage to locate coffee beans from around the world (not around the supermarket)? Will Bucharestians even desire to go to a coffee shop like this? Who knows. We think there is a niche for this. This would go over very well with expatriates living in Bucharest simply because it offers something different and unique. Monotony is coming to an end here.
Here is a snippet taken from Coffee & Crema’s website to “show” you the time and attention they put into their product. Can any of this be said for coffee shops in Bucharest??
Papua New Guinea, Tambul
From Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands comes Tambul, a voluptuous, full, round, sweet coffee. Flavors of caramel and chocolate dominate, with subtle accents of cherry.
Kayanza, Burundi, Kiryama
The coffee farmers of Kiryama cultivate heirloom Bourbon, Mibirizi, and Jackson coffee varieties at 1760 meters above sea level. With sweet, clean notes of pomegranate, red grape, and orange; their latest harvest is a delicious expression of Burundi’s burgeoning agricultural craftsmanship.
We offer Espresso Toscano at both locations. It’s roasted and blended in the caffe dolce or “sweet coffee” tradition of Central Italy. Both sweet and mild, with notes of caramel, hazelnut, and dark chocolate. The Fazenda Ipanema “Dulce,” a profoundly sweet, dry-processed coffee from the famous Ipanema estate of Brazil is a major component of this blend as is the Gayo from the mountains of Aceh, Sumatra. This coffee is beautiful on its own and lends a clean, creamy dark chocolate character specific to espresso. It is a wonderful and complete everyday espresso.
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