At some collective point in history, hybrid crossover stores became all the rage. Hardware stores started slinging cappuccinos, the local pub got themselves a ping-pong table, and ordering a side of Swedish meatballs at a furniture depot started to make sense.
Coffee shops caught the bug too. And the industry’s diversification from coffee into lush, green and over-sprawling plants is surely complete.
Cafe aficionados have tried to replicate this approach at home, stretching monstera’s alongside their coffee tables, the kitchen, and hardy cactus’ by the window-ledge. Just add the latest edition of Kinfolk magazine and you’ve got yourself the insta-shot.
On my travels I’ve come across (usually by accident), a number of cafes that just nailed this approach. I’ll update this list occasionally whenever fresh inspiration catches my eye.
Piece of Cake, Poznan, Poland
If you’re in central Poland, you probably already know about Piece of Cake, a coffee and cake boutique in the lively student city of Poznan. Saying that this is a terrific coffee shop doesn’t do it justice. Yes, the coffee selection and preparation is outstanding (hello, Friedhats Amsterdam), but it’s the artisanal, home-baked cake selection, alongside a botanical-gardens standard assortment of green plants that really steals the show.
At Piece of Cake, the customer becomes one with the nursery. There’s a chair beside the window where you are almost absorbed into the greenery. Paired with a good filter coffee, you mind will wander into a distant jungle of thoughts. You might almost forget that you’re alive. In a good way, of course.
Down the back there are plenty of tables and a large, wooden rustic door which slides open to reveal a stylish bathroom. I don’t usually comment on bathrooms, but this is a nice touch.
Piece of Cake is located at Święty Wojciech 27, 61–749 Poznań, Poland.
Atrium, Malmö, Sweden
Unlike some plant-infused cafes that merely have shrubs for good looks, Malmo’s Atrium isn’t a pretender, they actually sell the plants too.
Nestled in the very southern tip of Sweden, among the shadows of the the Oresund Bridge which connects the country to Denmark, Atrium specialises in nice plants, comfortable brunches and good coffee.
An L-shaped establishment with ample indoor and outdoor seating, Atrium offers a cosy spot for fika, brunch, or even something a little longer. With an adjoining room stuffed to the brim with plants, you’ll get the chance to fondle the greenery while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew.
Having lived in Denmark for a number of years, and with a Norwegian partner, Malmo was a logical stopping-off point on the nine-hour drive from Billund to Oslo. Just thirty minutes by car from Copenhagen, it’s the perfect spot to lean back, recharge and get ready to go again. The proximity to Copenhagen airport also means it’s a nice place to pop into while you’re waiting for an arrival. Just keep in mind you’ll need to pay to cross the Swedish border in a car, however.
It should be said that as a city, Malmo occasionally gets a bad rap. Unlike fairytale Stockholm, this southern Swedish city has occasionally made the news for unfavourable reasons — think petrol bombs, gang violence, shootings and the like. But having visited a dozen times, I’ve never seen any of this myself, and I’ve never felt unsafe. I can’t help but feel that some of the press coverage is somewhat of an over-reaction. After all, Sweden is one of the most comfortable, passive places on earth, so a couple of rogue incidents would probably be enough to rock the casbah and snag an uncomfortable headline.
Long story short, the coffee at Atrium is good, the plants are spectacular, and this slice of heaven is the most unlikely of locations also offers a terrific brunch. Choose from freshly-prepared salads, eggs or pastries. The eggs benedict — literally drowning in hollandaise sauce — is my weapon of choice.
Just a note — like other countries in Northern Europe, milk-based drinks in Sweden typically don’t come with a double-shot as standard. In Atrium and other cafes, be sure to specify that you’d like a double shot, otherwise you’ll end up with a cup of coffee-stained milk, which may not be quite what you had in mind.
Atrium can be found at Skvadronsgatan 13, 217 49 Malmö, Sweden.
La Ménagère, Florence, Italy
I’m still not entirely sure how we found La Menagere. We had spent a couple of weeks hiking through the gloriously sparse Tuscan region in central Italy, and in desperate need of a return to civiliasion, had caught the early morning train to Florence. Most likely we just needed a coffee and stumbled in off the street.
Florence really doesn’t need an introduction. But aside from being the home of renaissance art, culture and architecture, plus the most fabulous mortadella panini on the face of the earth, there is an up and coming brunch scene that is taking off across the city.
La Menagere is located within the tourist precinct, right beside the Museo di San Marco. But don’t let that put you off. If you’re tired of wrestling your way through crowded streets, you can escape through the front door and be transported to another world — timber tables, whistling ceiling fans, coffee, pancakes, flower bouquets and plants. Hell, there’s even a grand piano sitting oh-so-casually in the middle of the room.
Wandering through the restaurant, you can’t help but admire how the owners have taken advantage of this wonderful space. An extended coffee bar and cake display transitions into a second room, where a flower stand opens up on the opposite side. Further back and the main dining room catches your eye, where cutlery sparkles and luscious plants drape elegantly across the tables. As with most places you visit in Italy, you’ll feel instantly underdressed.
La Menagere is located at Via de’ Ginori, 8/R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy.
Bonanza Coffee Roasters, Berlin, Germany
Armed with a company car and a company-funded fuel card, Bonanza became my local coffee roaster. Despite being a five-hour, 500 kilometre drive from the south of Denmark, this is where I have been going to pick up my usual espresso roast for the past three years.
Admittedly, it wasn’t just the coffee I would come for. After all, Berlin is my favourite city in Europe.
Most famous for their Bonanza Blend, a chocolatey, cherry blend that doubles as an espresso roast and a filter, Bonanza have been a mainstay in the Berlin coffee scene since 2006. Decked out with overextended, free-standing plants, it’s easy to see why this is where both coffee snobs and thousands of local students choose to spend their weekends.
Their success is absolutely deserved. Despite sitting within the competitive Berlin coffee landscape — think Five Elephant and The Barn — Bonanza have their own edge on the local scene. With a compact grab-and-go downtown in hipster Kollwitzkiez, and a sprawling roastery in Kreuzberg, they’ve captured both sides of the market. Their coffees are regularly featured in dozens of cafes across Europe and their name represents quality. If Bonanza is on the menu, chances are everything else is going to be good.
If you’re a student and you’re looking to poke down for the day and get some work done, the roastery has you covered. With a laptop zone and a handful of power outlets inside, coupled with ample seating outside during the warmer months, you can spend your afternoon surrounded by nice plants and great coffee. I’m not sure life gets much better than that.
Bonanza have two locations in Berlin. These photos are taken from their roastery, which is located at Adalbertstraße 70, 10999 Berlin, Germany.
Do you know more European cafes and coffee shops that have nailed the indoor plant brief? If so, leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list.