Walking down Josefstrasse, it’s easy to see why Zurich repeatedly tops lists of the world’s most livable cities. The brightly colored apartment blocs– an eclectic array of modern and neoclassical architectural styles– are flanked by wide sidewalks with plenty of trees and park benches. Impeccably-dressed cyclists constitute the majority of traffic, and the occasional motorist doesn’t hesitate to yield the right of way to pedestrians.
But what’s a neighborhood without a coffee shop? And Josefstrasse just happens to have one of the best in the world: MAME.
Approaching MAME, the first thing I see is a sign announcing, “the best coffee is the coffee you like.” It’s an inclusive declaration considering MAME co-owner Emi Fukahori won the World Brewers Cup Championship in 2018, and her partner, Mathieu Theis, has earned back-to-back top six finished at the World Barista Championship. But it’s a fitting motto for the shop, which seems far more interested in making customers happy than touting their accolades.
The menu at MAME is a riff on the SCA tasting wheel. Coffees are listed next to its most distinguishing flavor note, be it black fruits for Coffee Collective’s Kieni, Kenya or stone fruit for Gardelli‘s Chiriku, Ethiopia. All filter coffees are brewed by the cup with Goat Story Gina brewers, the same device Fukahori used to win the World Brewers Cup Championship. Throughout my visits to MAME I work my way through most of the menu, though the real standout was the Kieni. The coffee had that distinct black currant fruitiness I expect from a high quality Kenya, with a wonderful earl grey-like complexity. Truly an outstanding cup of coffee.
Between the championship trophies and the innovative service, it’s clear MAME has cemented its reputation as a destination café. During my visits, I’m never the only cafe-hopping coffee nerd in the shop. But MAME’s high menu concept could easily bomb with a more conventional clientele without kind and competent customer service. Thankfully barista Matt Winton, himself an accomplished barista competitor, deftly navigates the complexities of hospitality without compromising on quality. He greets most guests by name, learned and remembered my name the first visit, and goes out of his way make each guest feel welcomed, even if they’re seeking a drink not on the menu.
Coffees on offer come from a wide array of roasters, but MAME will soon be offering house-roasted coffee as a well. A 5kg Diedrich coffee roaster is in route, and the team is already testing samples. Matt admits to me it will be a challenge— their clientele has become accustomed to some of Europe’s most acclaimed roasters. But I’m confident MAME’s roasting will be like everything else they do: excellent.