Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of Brno either.
Located in the south of the Czech Republic, somewhere between Prague and Austria’s capital, Vienna, Brno is a place you probably won’t wind up unless you’re either determined to go there, or — more likely — you just happen to be passing through in a car.
My situation was the latter. An early-summer road-trip from Denmark to Budapest. And after 11 hours of driving through the night, a decent coffee, a quick meal and a gallop across town was on the cards.
Now, this article is intended to make a point. Often, when we talk about coffee culture, our thinking reverts to major cities — London, Milan, Paris, Melbourne. But this isn’t always the case. There are regional cities around the world who are punching above their weight. Brno just happens to be one of them.
Often, when we talk about coffee culture, our thinking reverts to major cities — London, Milan, Paris, Melbourne. But this isn’t always the case. There are regional cities around the world who are punching above their weight. Brno just happens to be one of them.
After a bit of stuffing around with Google Maps, and some back and forth driving to try and find a safe car park, I arrived at Industra, a converted warehouse in the city’s industrial south, some three kilometres from the centre.
Now, I’m trying to think of the name of the walk-through plastic shield that hangs between doorways in an old butcher shop, or a milk bar. I still can’t think of it. But Industra has these. It also has a booming garage door separating the cafe from the car park, hanging light fittings and exposed cables. And to complete the picture, out the back of the shop, a bunch of art students were working on what looked like a mid-semester school project. This place is hip to the max.
Inside, the industrial feel takes a turn for some more subtle tones, with a walnut serving bench supporting a multi-group Nuova Simonelli machine, and soft timber communal tables for guests. Indoor plants hang from the rafters, and sprawl across the window-sills. Despite not having an abundance of natural light, Industra has made the most of it by creating a green, plant-laden oasis. While I sipped my coffee, the barista walked out from behind the counter, stood on one of the tables and began watering the plants.
My flat white, a Brazilian and Columbian house blend, was strong, balanced and delicious.
You can find Industra Coffee at Masná 9, 602 00 Brno-jih-Trnitá, Czechia.
After this tasty stop-over, I was typically still hungry. Back in the car and off to the city centre then.
Next up was a popular downtown establishment Skog Urban Hub. Again, I’d never heard of this place but a quick Google search for tasty food in town and this place came up.
Safe to say this place absolutely blew me away. Effortlessly blending cocktails, coffee and high-quality food, Skog is a must-visit for anybody that takes pleasure in either of the three.
Effortlessly blending cocktails, coffee and high-quality food, Skog is a must-visit for anybody that takes pleasure in either of the three.
For lunch, I threw down a crunchy salad with fresh leaves, radish and a side of bread and hummus. Although I didn’t realise until i walked in, the venue specialises in vegetarian fare. Specifically, high-end, locally-sourced plant-based ingredients appears to be their theme.
Behind the bar, head bartender Denis Jezek whips together all sorts of crazy drinks. From green-pepper gin to dark rum and whisky sours, there’s a mouth-watering spritz of drinks on offer. And like most things in the Czech Republic, the prices are affordable enough for a second, or even a third round of drinks to accompany your boozy brunch.
Adequately satisfied, I finished off with an iced filter coffee, which went down a treat on a 36-degree summer day. Their coffee is sourced by local Czech coffee roaster Rusty Nails, with espresso-based drinks served from a twin-head La Marzocco Linea Classic and a pair of Mazzer Grinders.
You can find Skog Urban Hub at Dominikánské nám. 187, 602 00 Brno-střed, Czechia.
Coffee aside, Brno is a charming town. Often referred to as ‘Little Vienna’, the 400,000 population-strong town remains characteristically walkable, understated, and offers more than a handful of hidden gems.
There is also a magnificent walk up the hill to Spilberk Castle. And while I didn’t go inside, the climb offers spectacular views over the city and the wider southern Czech region. If you’re travelling in summer, do what the locals do and pick up a couple of beers from the supermarket (20 CZK / €0.70 each), sit up on the hill and watch the world go by.
For most travellers who are planning a trip to Prague, Brno might be the perfect weekend escape from the hustle, tourist-laden capital. It might also be an ideal stopover between Prague and Vienna, or perhaps a trip further south to Bratislava. The city is well connected by train, and is a comfortable, two-hour ride from Prague.