Since its first edition in 2016, the Brussels Coffee Week has taken place each year. It aims to guide coffee lovers through the Brussels coffee scene and bring together the coffee community during one week full of fun events (coffee-related, of course). Every year, they publish their curated specialty coffee map featuring more than 50 of Brussels´ iconic coffee shops. I, being the coffee shop lover I am, decided to set about trying all of them and now, four months later, I am ready to share my thoughts and conclude this adventure… for now.
Text & image: Dany Waizel
As a disclaimer, I want to state that whilst I am no coffee expert, nor a barista. I am a coffee lover, and having had a few coffee shop jobs within Brussels makes me feel like I’ve dipped my toes deep enough into the Brussels coffee scene to give my humble opinion about it.
Pl. de la Vieille Halle aux Blés 36, 1000 Bruxelles, https://www.gruun.brussels/ Open everyday 10m-18pm
Gruun (Dutch for green) is a great concept with a cozy feel: this small urban jungle serves as both a plant and coffee shop. Their terrace is nice during summer, but sitting inside surrounded by all the plants during the colder months far exceeds the terrace. While there is not a lot of sitting space, you will always find a seat available. I tried their Chai Latte and Cappuccino, which are rich. The real stars of the show, however, are their cakes, especially their carrot cake with a delicious cream cheese frosting. So, if you are looking for a nice place in the city center, why not kill two birds with one stone and get coffee and plants?
2. Yuka Espresso Bar
Bd Anspach 166, 1000 Bruxelles, https://www.facebook.com/yukaespressobar/ Open everyday 8am-18pm, except Tuesday
Yuka is a short walk away from De Brouckère and the City Center giving it a really nice location. They have a big terrace on the sidewalk, but the space inside is a bit smaller. However, I was still able to comfortably study there. The bar has two signature espresso blends, one from Costa Rica and another flavored house blend, both very potent and rich. I tried their Iced Cappuccino made with the house blend and the flavor was amazing. The flavors and decoration of the bar are tropical jungle-inspired, with some very cute plants. The owner was also incredibly nice. The one thing that will keep me coming back to Yuka is their Burnt Cheesecake, which is traditional in South East Asia and has a smooth inside and a crispy crust. I fell in love and I can’t wait to try it again!
Av. Georges Henri 300, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, https://melkafe.be/ Open Wed-Sun until 17pm
MelKafé has a very home-like cozy vibe. They have a beautiful terrace and lots of interior seating space. I was able to sit down and comfortably read my book. The staff was super friendly and I had one of the best Iced Lattes I´ve ever tried. Maybe it was because of the hot day, but it had a very special sweet flavor and actually made my day. I can especially recommend their lunch formula: it came with lots of very tasty food, and their soup was delicious. On weekends they also serve brunch, but it’s best to make a reservation beforehand to avoid walking into a full house. They sell lots of bio products like honey and tea, and some pretty art prints, which only added to the home-like experience of the café.
4. Café Winok
Av. Louis Bertrand 48, 1030 Schaerbeek, https://www.cafewinok.be/ Open every day from early (8:30-9am) until late (11:30pm-1am)
Café Winok is one of my favorites so far. It has the feel of a cozy college bar, where you can hang out for a drink, come to study, play board games and occasionally listen to live music. Something that sets them apart is that they roast their own beans. You can buy their blends and merch both at the café and online. You can have coffee all day if you want, but at night, the vibe changes and you can exchange your coffee for a beer. Personally, I wouldn’t mind spending all day here.
Chau. de Charleroi 91A, 1060 Saint-Gilles, https://www.stellacoffeebar.be/, Open everyday 9am-17pm
Stella is a very small, relaxing coffee shop in Saint Gilles. The shop itself features a particularly nice hand-painted mural and the one and only “Stella”, a beautiful dog that came all the way from Syria with one of the shop’s founders. When I visited, she was napping on the floor and let us cuddle and play with her. The shop champions eco-friendliness, love for animals and sustainable foods. A lot of the pastries in the shop are vegan and quite yummy at that. I tried the lemongrass and coconut latte, which is the most interesting and delicious coffee I have ever tried. Next time, however, I’d love to try some of their “funky” coffees, which are a mix of coffee and alcohol. I really love the coziness and casual feel of the shop. Seating is limited though, so studying here is not recommended.
6. Lucifer Lives
Rue Haute 120, 1000 Bruxelles, https://www.facebook.com/luciferlivescoffee/, Open Wed-Sun 10am-17pm
Lucifer Lives really lives up to its name. The shop itself features many cult and horror references, including a bookcase in the shape of a coffin. If you have ever seen Sabrina The Teenage Witch on Netflix, then this place will feel familiar. Even the amazing employees fit into the shop’s theme. I tried their cappuccino, which was delicious, but for me their desserts were the winners. The café is vegan, so finding such delicious desserts is a dream. Their peanut butter chocolate pie and their giant muffin were delicious and really looked like they came out of a movie. If you find yourself in the Marollen, keep an eye out for it.
7. Le Phare du Kanaal
Quai des Charbonnages 40, 1080 Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, https://lepharedukanaal.com/ Open everyday( hours vary)
Located right at the Brussels Canal with a big lighthouse painted on its walls, the Phare is a cozy spot for coffee and lunch. They have a nice terrace overlooking the canal and the inside is warm and inviting. The coffee is great, but even if coffee is not your cup of tea, they have a delicious menu. Their soup is amazing and so is their brunch on the weekends. Their pastries are stunning and perfect to take with you to one of the shops’ many meeting rooms and coworking spaces.
Rue de Savoie 59, 1060 Saint-Gilles, https://alchimistecafe.be/en Open everyday until 3pm
I loved the interior of L´Alchimiste. I was half expecting it to look like a witches dungeon and even though that wasn´t the case, the shop is filled with so many little trinkets that it gives a wizardy feeling to the room. I tried their pancakes, which were amazingly delicious. The chai latte I got tasted good, but the milk didn’t have that foamy texture. This could have been just a fluke, because my friend´s cappuccino milk was perfectly steamed. Overall, I would love to come back, as the café really provides a comfortable and warm feeling.
9. Kaki Cake Bar
Chau. de Waterloo 394, 1060 Saint-Gilles,https://www.facebook.com/Kaki.CakeBar/ Open 11:30-18:30, closed Monday and Tuesday
This bar was actually a surprise for me, because it offered way more than I thought. First of all, they have a great menu option that includes noodle soup and a drink for just 12 euros. They offer a range of Bubble Teas and other Asian inspired drinks, but the star of the show is their fluffy Japanese cheesecake, which was very good and fresh. The place itself is very cute, with a cozy and traditionally girly decoration, and lots of space to study or hang out with friends. I really liked it and will definitely come back.
10. Café Tiera
Rue Van Artevelde 53, 1000 Bruxelles, https://cafetiera.be/en Open everyday until 6pm
This café is one of my cozy spots in Brussels. The space is small and the street-side terrace extensive, but it is designed in a way that makes sense. On my first visit, I tried their cappuccino and tiramisu, on the second I went for a seasonal special “Cookie Dough” Latte. It was visually pleasing and I loved the mountain of whipped cream, but it was a bit too sweet. Other than that, I would say it’s a great brunch spot on the weekends and always a comfy study spot.
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