This is the third in a series of city-specific café-hopping guides around the world, based on our articles in Sunday Mail’s Crave magazine.


“There is no specialty coffee in Munich.”

This was our initial impression about the Bavarian capital. Being close to Italy, it’s natural that coffee drinkers here would lean towards their neighbour’s robust espressos rather than lighter brews. Also, let’s not forget that Munich is a beer paradise, where Biergartens and Bierstubes (beer gardens and taverns) serve some of the best beers in the world.

Indeed, most avid coffee lovers would tell you to head north to Berlin for a more vibrant Third Wave Coffee scene. However, we discover that there is an underground coffee culture in Munich, if we know where to look.

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How many cafés do you know are located in a swimming pool?

While not exactly floating on water, Rotterdam’s Aloha Bar is set up in an abandoned water theme park. The former Tropicana water park was one of the derelict, post-80s buildings that stayed vacant till it was converted into a specialty coffee hub. From a water fun landmark into a caffeine landmark; all it takes is a bit of creativity and vision.

The space still retains much of its former “glamour”, if one could call it that: from shiny tiles to large black parasols giving shade to white deckchairs. Hanging plants add an element of green that recalls its prior incarnation: a make-believe tropical paradise.

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The Populus Coffee and Food Co. is lit by golden light so it always seems the best time of day here. Run by Department of Caffeine and coffee-roasters 2Degrees North Coffee Co., this café is proof collaborations can work splendidly when both parties know exactly what they do best.

The twirly filaments of the chic Edison bulbs aside, it’s the carefully thought-out décor and the clean lines of the staff uniforms – from the servers to the baristas, all dressed in white shirts and the occasional denim apron – that stands out initially. That is, till you taste the coffee and the eats.

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