Favourites: Coffee Culture in Kraków

You wouldn't expect it, but the cafe scene is pretty much integral to Polish popular culture. Especially in Kraków, Poland's second largest city, people love a good cuppa. Whether hidden in alleys and attics or situated on the main square, the cafes in this city attract a crowd of trendy regulars, wandering expats and other loyal coffee drinkers.

Because I had to complete an intensive study project in Krakow a couple of weeks ago, I closely followed the "one coffee a day, keeps the doctor away" dogma. Two fellow students who have spent this semester in Kraków have actually helped me in getting my daily caffeine fix: Swedish Nina and German Eike launched a really cool website in April called Krakow Coffee Culture, where they post reviews of all coffee places they have visited in Kraków.

Below you will find my three favourite cafes, which I liked because they were oozing with comfort and charm.

Moroccan mint tea at Cheder Cafe ©Maaike

A barista cutting mint for a Moroccan tea. You can see finjan coffee pots on the shelves above her ©Maaike

1. Cheder Cafe
Kazimierz, Kraków's Jewish district, boasts a multitude of quintessential Jewish cafes and cultural centres — Cheder Cafe being a combination of the two. The moment you enter this charming venue, you are greeted by high wooden book shelves, Jewish ornaments—such as menorahs—and the smell of traditional Israeli and Moroccan beverages. Although the selection of food and cakes is a little meager, Cheder's oriental atmosphere and delicious coffee and tea make up for it. The traditional spicy Israeli coffee—served in a finjan, a special pot with a long handle—and Moroccan mint tea particularly are to die for.

Where? Józefa 36, Kazimierz district

Alchemia from the outside ©Maaike
Alchemia's gloomy interior ©Maaike
2. Alchemia
Alchemia: the name evokes exactly the feel that this cafe slash night club delivers – it is murky, bohemian, slightly eclectic and fashionably gritty. Large wooden tables dramatically caked with wax, gloomy candle-lit rooms and an unusual drink menu (hot apple juice, spiced coffee, mulled beer with cinnamon, vodka tea?!) make Alchemia a magical place. It is not just a coffee bar, however: if you're up for some dancing, merge with the shabby-chic clubbing crowd that comes here after 10pm.

Where?  Estery 5, Kazimierz district

A cosy living room interior at Magica to make you feel right at home ©Maaike
Cool artifacts can be found everywhere in Magica ©Maaike
3. Café Magica
Magica is your typical living room cafe: comfy couches, leafy plants and antique artifacts like typewriters and old teapots. It's a bit hard to find this place: hidden in an alleyway, the exterior of the building does not reveal what is inside, namely a cosy cafe with a greenhouse-like patio. 
If you appreciate lingering over a coffee and a cake in a dimly lit setting just as much as I do, you will love Magica without a doubt.

Where? Plac Mariacki 2, Stare Miasto district

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