Exploring Berlin’s Cigarette and Coffee Joints
Coffee, simply put, is the world’s most accepted vice. Whether you take a Milchkaffee in the morning, an espresso at lunch or a latte in the evening, it is a part of most of our daily lives. Being a late comer to the stuff myself, I have enjoyed the ever evolving third-wave scene that has been happening over the past few years in Berlin; even going as far as to pick up a good working knowledge of how to run the hissing motors that get your day going.
These cafes are great for their coffee but I have found more than some lacking in atmosphere. Being an unashamed smoker (which, conversely, has become the world’s most frowned upon vice over the last few years) I have always preferred the coffee and cigarette vibe over a perfect cortado. But even with its almost total lack of a smoking ban, Berlin has few places that cater to both these things indoors during the day. But there is a few.
Here is a short list of my favorites for the city’s vaguely maligned smokers.
3. k-fetisch, Weserstrasse 86Split into both smoking and non-smoking, k-fetish could be said to be more of a "work space" than a cafe. During the week it is full of Neukölln’s laptop elite and groups milling around a single table having loose artistic meetings. But a collection of great books, great coffee and a seemingly endless supply of friends who just happen to run into each other their makes it both a great place to get some work done or slack off and chat for a few hours until it’s time for a beer.
2. Sofia, Wrangelstrasse 93Most people know Sofia as a bar where on any given winter’s night you can cut the air with a knife, put it in a box and sell it. But during the day, summer or winter, it is a quiet place to flick through the daily paper, read a book or scribble something down on paper. It won’t win prizes for its coffee but being so close to Görlizerpark it can provide an interesting window to watch the day go by.
1. Taqueria Florian, Oranienstrasse 17This spot will always have a place in my weathered lungs as it was the first cafe where I could puff away and warm up on a cold winter’s morning in Berlin. Taqueria Florian feels like a relic of a by gone Kreuzberg. This is an out and out smokers’ bar full of locals. Some leaning into their first early morning beer or sipping away at their fifth espresso of the evening while playing a never ending game of drafts, all the while with a cigarette, cigar or pipe dangling out of their mouths. With the music always seeming to be some sort of jazz it can feel like a place that the outside world has long forgotten.
By Francis T. Spurling