If there’s a city that actually lives up to American fairytale stereotypes about Europe, it is Prague. Walking the streets of Prague is practically an architecture history class: Gothic, Baroque, Cubist, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau all blend to make one gorgeous, cosmopolitan city. It’s not surprising that the region of the Czech Republic that Prague is in, Bohemia, lends its name to artsy neighborhoods and their denizens around the world. And nowhere is the grandeur of the Old World more visible than in one of many historic Prague cafes. Coffee houses such as Cafe Imperial or the Grand Cafe Orient are great places to glimpse the opulence of the gilded age, but order an espresso and you’ll get the same stale, mass-produced, over-roasted Italian or Austrian brand you can get just about anywhere. Ironically if you want to get a great cup of locally roasted coffee, the place to go is Karlin, a rather sleepy suburb composed mostly of Stalinist concrete apartment blocs.
Charmless architecture aside, Karlin is a neighborhood on an upswing thanks to a surge of new community-minded businesseses, including Můjšálekkávy (“My Cup of Coffee” in Czech), a Prague cafe which happens to have some of the best coffee in town. Můjšálekkávy hasn’t even been open for two years, but it’s already an established part of the community. While chatting with Roland, a South African expat and owner of Můjšálekkávy, I learned that one regular’s love for the cafe influenced her to move to a nearby flat. After I had a couple of drinks I could understand why.
Můjšálekkávy serves coffee from Double Shot, a local roaster with a great philosophy:
Most of the coffees in our current offering comes from farmers, who we treat more as a family then business partners. We picked and dried ripe coffee cherries with them. Many days were spent together at the cupping table evaluating and checking the bean quality. Our responsibility is now to roast the beans to their perfection.
Evidently, the trio behind Double Shot likes what Můjšálekkávy is doing with their coffees because they stopped by the cafe several times during my visits.
Můjšálekkávy pulls Double Shot’s Tam Dem Espresso blend with a gorgeous Mirage espresso machine by Kees van der Westen. An assortment of filter coffee- a rarity in the Czech Republic- is brewed by the cup at a Hario V60 slow bar. Throughout my several visits I tried an assortment of their single origin filter coffees including the El Salvador Finca El Carmen Natural Pacamara, the Colombia Carlos Imbachi, and the Panama Los Lajones Honey Microlot. Of the filters the Finca El Carmen and the Los Lajones Honey were my favorite. The Tam Dem espresso was darker than I prefer, but it was always well prepared and tasted good in a cappuccino.
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