Imagine a feeling that encompasses coziness and warmth, but with an added sense of belonging and inner peace—that’s Gemütlichkeit, just one of many non-translatable German words (yes, we’re capitalizing the nouns like real Germans). There are many ways to achieve Gemütlichkeit: a comfy evening on the couch, a lazy afternoon spent cooking with friends, or a weekend getaway somewhere quiet. But the best example is “Kaffee und Kuchen“—literally, coffee and cake. It’s a ritual that’s all about gathering with family or friends on a leisurely afternoon for a chat over, well, coffee and cake. The secret ingredient, though? Losing track of time. Think of it as Germany‘s answer to Swedish fika or English afternoon tea.
In Germany, the habit of meeting over coffee and something sweet was first established in the late 17th century. Once coffee became more accessible, beyond the country’s elite, in the 19th century, Kaffee und Kuchen became a fixture for those seeking a little break from the everyday grind. The German pastime is practiced all over the country, but it’s perhaps best put to use in the vibrant capital of Berlin, as a way to slow down. To participate, simply find a friend, arrive on time (this is Germany, after all), and get lost in conversation, caffeine, and cake. Here are five cozy cafés where you can enjoy a short break with the best coffee and baked goods in Berlin—any day of the week.
Step inside ORA and you’ll find yourself surrounded by meticulously picked decor that pays homage to its past as an apothecary (think dark-wood medicine cabinets, high ceilings, and delicate stucco). Add to this some freshly baked goods and you’ve got one of the coziest spots in the city for a coffee break by candlelight. Be sure to try their cinnamon buns.
Oranienpl. 14, 10999 Berlin
Five Elephant is not only well-known for its in-house roasted coffee, but also for its cheesecake, made with a secret recipe. Just around the corner from the lush Landwehr Canal in the Kreuzberg district, the light-filled space invites conversation (no laptops allowed in the front room!). Indulge in one of their many cakes on offer, all rich and delicate at the same time, with that perfect crispy crust.
Reichenberger Str. 101, 10999 Berlin
Black Isle Bakery
What may appear like another sleek concept store in the central neighborhood of Mitte is actually one of the latest additions to Berlin’s café scene, a quiet haven bathed in all white, apart from a smattering of shiny copper accents. Black Isle Bakery (pictured at top) specializes in simple, traditional delights made to perfection. The fine selection includes sweet treats such as a well-balanced lemon cake, Scottish ginger cake, and dark chocolate brownies with sea salt—everything you could hope for to accompany that cup of post-lunch coffee.
Linienstraße 54, 10119 Berlin
Just off the famous airport turned park Tempelhof, Isla is the calm refuge its name suggests: Take a seat at one of the small wooden tables and enjoy a piece of simple (but delightfully moist) pound cake among the jungle of potted plants scattered around. But don’t mistake Isla for just another trendy café in super-cool Neukölln—fully committed to zero waste and sustainability, at Isla, coffee is served in mugs made from composted beans.
Hermannstraße 37, 12049 Berlin
If you’re after that old Berlin charm, look no further: Since 1852, Konditorei Buchwald has specialized in the fine art of Baumkuchen, the German version of traditional spit cake. It can be ordered with or without chocolate coating, as small slices or huge tortes. If that doesn’t charm you, the patterned wallpaper and satin-draped tables reminiscent of another era certainly will.
Bartningallee 29, 10557 Berlin
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