I just spent a month in Bucharest and was absolutely blown away by the specialty coffee shop scene in the city.
After 30 days of traversing the city seeking out the best cafés, I feel like I only scratched the surface. There are more specialty coffee shops here per capita than anywhere else in Europe, and possibly the world. In fact, it almost seems harder to find a café serving conventional coffee than it does one serving specialty beans.
So, in this most specialty coffee-obsessed city, which coffee shops stand out? Here's our rundown of the 10 best speciality coffee shops in Bucharest.
In my month in the city, I visited Saint Roastery more times than any other coffee shop, which says a lot.
In my opinion, they're currently the best roastery and café in Bucharest. You can taste that a huge amount of love and skill goes into sourcing beans and delicately roasting them to make incredibly expressive coffees.
Whether from Costa Rica, or Kenya, or Ethiopia, every coffee I tasted at Saint was nothing short of exceptional. Their roaster takes pride of place in the café so if you come at the right time you might get to see it in action.
Hand brew coffees are very affordable in Bucharest so you can explore their range of coffees in a V60 without breaking the bank. Just ask one of their experienced and friendly baristas what is on offer today.
And don't miss trying one of their pistachio croissants. Delicious.
A final thing to note is that (with the polite exception of the most busy of times) it is laptop friendly and a great spot to get a bit of work done.
See what coffees have been rated at Saint on Kava here.
Close to Saint Roastery and conveniently located just around the corner from Gara de Nord train station is MABÓ ONE, owned by Bogdan Georgescu, the World Coffee Roasting Vice-Champion.
I'd say that award was well earned, as the coffees at MABÓ are outstanding.
I started with a Gina pourover but quickly discovered that their Batch was not only the best in the city but probably the best I have had anywhere on my travels.
Far from being an afterthought, or a safe option, they use their Batch to showcase their range of coffees. So you'll often find deliciously funky anerobic coffees from micro-lots. My favorites were their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and Colombia El Paraiso.
Whilst they are perfectly happy for you to work from here, it's not super comfortable for a long work stint, so maybe just enjoy your coffee and catch up on a few emails but leave the serious work for another time.
See how I rated them and the other coffees rated on Kava here.
And check out their other location at Strada Vulturilor.
First Coffee is not only a coffee shop but also a barista school, responsible for training many of the city's top baristas.
It's a light and airy space with big windows that draw in plenty of natural light, even in winter.
They're laptop friendly so grab one of their comfortable sofas and enjoy a great coffee while you work. Or just sit back and relax.
Find them on Kava here.
OTOTO is a small chain of stores selling beautiful products from independent brands, ranging from clothing to food. And of course, specialty coffee to drink in or take away.
They regularly switch up their beans so there's always something new to try. On my last visit the Batch was a delicious natural Ethiopian from Pressco Roastery.
They have several branches throughout the city. My favorite is on Calea Victoriei but you'll also find their Amzei location on D. I. Mendeleev, just opposite M60 and their Dorobanti location on Calea Dorobanti.
Origo have made a name for themselves as one of the first and finest coffee roasters in Bucharest. Founded in 2013, you'll find their coffee not only in their own coffee shops but also in some of the city's other top cafés like Black Habit and Steam.
Their Dorobanti location is tiny inside but has a lovely terrace that can become a real suntrap.
I splurged on one of their top end coffees, a mega complex 90-point Ethiopian, brewed in an Origami dripper.
Black Habit was the first specialty coffee shop I visited in Bucharest, simply as it was the closest to my apartment and given the snow and subzero temperatures that I was faced with when I got off the plane, I figured the less distance I had to go to warm up with a cup of coffee, the better.
It was a great introduction to the city's coffee scene: A warm, friendly welcome and of course, outstanding coffee from Origo.
With the (understandable) exception of their busiest times, they're happy for you to work from there. The best spot is at the high table in the window, so you can watch people walking by when your mind wanders.
Check them out on Kava here.
There aren't too many specialty coffee shops right in the center of the old town but Emozia is a notable exception. Situated right next to Piata Unirii, it makes a great pitstop after seeing the vast Palace of Parliament and the imposing boulevards that were part of Ceaucescu's grand architectural plans.
Or you could do what I did and sneak off during a walking tour to grab a quick takeaway while the guide isn't looking.
See how I rated my sneaky Cortado and the other coffees rated at Emozia here.
Calea Victoriei is one of the busiest and buzziest streets in Bucharest, home to shops, bars and restaurants as well as some of its best coffee shops. We've already seen OTOTO on this rundown, next up is Cascara and there's (spoiler alert) more to come later.
Cascara is a coffee shop and roastery. I love the way they talk about their journey: It wasn't always easy. Special flavors are created from dreams, through work and the right choices. It wasn't always simple. A good product is created with passion, never settling for less than perfect. It wasn't fast. But anything really good is enjoyed with patience. Amen.
Well you didn't have to wait too long to find the next coffee shop on Calea Victoriei did you?
Right across the street from Cascara is Sloane, home to possibly the prettiest coffee cups in the city.
It's a great spot for people watching, especially on a busy Saturday morning, so grab a seat on their street terrace and watch the world go by.
You can find them on Kava here.
Steam's location at Piața Charles de Gaulle does the best weekend vibes in the city. On a Saturday or Sunday, crowds of people pack the terrace before heading off on a leisurely walk around the King Michael I park.
Don’t agree with this ranking? It’s up to you to start rating your coffees on Kava specialty coffee app and make sure your favorites move up the rankings.
Kava is the new free app for specialty coffee lovers.
Kava helps you discover the best specialty coffee shops. Rate your coffees and share images, comments and likes with your friends and followers.
Get it now for free on Android or iPhone here.