Kölsche Tea Time: Coffee and cake in Cologne
What’s tea time for the Brits is coffee and cake for the Germans, and what a lovely tradition it is! Cologne has many cafés that serve home-baked cakes, and I went out to test some of them. Here’s a mouthwatering selection.
I wish my stomach was as big as the cake display at Café Franck, an incredible array of baked goods that leaves me goggle-eyed. How about a gluten-free carrot cake? Or rather a slice of redcurrant tart? Once I discover the gooseberry meringue gateau, my choice is made.
In happy anticipation I head for the squashy sofas at the back of the café and take in the interior. Gemütlich dominates: granny-style wallpaper, retro lamps suspended from the high ceilings. On the wall just opposite me is an old automat displaying toys and tiny works of art. Cute! Then my coffee and cake arrive and it’s just like I knew it would be – as if my grandmother had made it. I think I’ll be here for a while.
Address: Eichendorffstraße 30, 50825 Cologne
as/if Record Store Café
Is it a record shop? A vintage store? Or a café? In fact it’s all of the above. Good things come in threes, and this hybrid establishment in the Belgian Quarter is a great example. To the right is some comfy seating on a stage, in the back left corner is the record selection and in the basement there’s a good selection of interesting vintage pieces.
But I’m on the hunt for a strong coffee and a slice of cake. The offerings here – home-made of course – are amazing. The cheesecake comes in a glass jar, and there’s also some juicy banana bread and chocolaty goodies. My flat white tastes just like it would in its natural habitat Down Under: full-flavoured and well-rounded.
Address: Brüsseler Straße 92, 50672 Cologne
Wo ist Tom?
The first time you enter the café – whose name translates to “Where is Tom?” – expect a surprise: the high-ceilinged space features a second floor that’s been installed at the back. Impressive! Then, prepare to be equally impressed by the oversized red lighting installation that spans both floors. It’s only at third glance that you see the cake display, although it’s right opposite the front door. The choice is enormous, so before trying to work out where Tom is, concentrate on making your cake selection. I opt for a white chocolate cheesecake, which turns out to be delicious. The Tom mystery is solved by the menu: Tom’s mum is the founder of Bundesvereinigung Lebenshilfe, Germany’s largest self-help organisation for people with mental disabilities and their families. The café is the first project by Perspektive Lebenshilfe, a Cologne-based charity, and is staffed with people with disabilities. Definitely a cause I can get behind!
Address: Zülpicher Straße 309, 50937 Köln
“Schön Kaffee in d´r kopp” (“Get a coffee in you”) is written above the alcove behind the counter, but even to non-natives like me the message is clear: this is where you get good coffee. The traditional kölsch phrase is also a reference to the café’s name, which in turn corresponds to the title of a song by Cologne-based traditional band Bläck Fööss. Kaffeebud is a cosy but exquisite space adorned with minimalist, selected interior decorations. Tiny brass candleholders are on the table, pretty pictures hang on the high walls. A large white chandelier is suspended from the ceiling. The kiosk-style counter is staffed with lovely people who artfully juggle espresso machines, percolators, siphons and aeropress coffee makers to produce the delicious black stuff. Scrumptious cakes and regional lemonades round off the menu. A great little place!
Address: Glasstraße 62, 50823 Cologne
Click here to discover more great cafés in Cologne: The choicest cafés