“There is no specialty coffee in Munich.”

This was the conclusion we arrived at when we first contemplated returning to the city where I spent my student days over a decade ago. Being close to Italy, it’s natural that most coffee-drinkers in Bavaria would lean towards the neighbour’s robust espressos rather than lighter brews.

Also, let’s not forget that Munich is a beer haven, where Biergartens and Bierstubes serve some of the best beers in the world. So it is a nice surprise when, after some googling, we discover a Third Wave coffee bar within walking distance of our Airbnb apartment near the city centre.

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Just a stone’s throw away from Prague’s Minor Theatre and the city’s well-trod historical walk is a café like none other in the Czech capital. For one thing, the café is strictly non-smoking, and offers free WiFi and an organic vegetarian menu. Certainly an oddity when you consider at most other coffeeshops hereabouts clouds of cigarette smoke hang ominously at all times and rich, meat-heavy dishes dominate.

What really helps mamacoffee (first letter not capitalized for some reason) stand out from the rest of Prague’s cafés is its insistence only offering only Fairtrade coffee with trained staff to advise you on what beans suit you best.

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During our recent trip to Europe, we had the good fortune of stumbling upon a new method of brewing coffee. At least, it is new to us; the Karlsbad Coffee Maker has been a traditional way of brewing coffee in Germany for more than a hundred years.

What is unique about this brewing method is that it works without the use of any paper filter or metal sieve. The resultant brew has a purer aroma and full of unadulterated flavours. Also known as the Bayreuth Pour Over Brewer (or Die Karlsbader Kanne in German), this coffee pot is actually made from several detachable parts (the lid, the water filter, the coffee percolator and the pot), all hand made from porcelain.

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