The city of Antwerp Belgium is known as a hip and happening place. So it won't surprise you that you can always find a cool coffee bar to get re-energized, take a break, read a book or grab some cake.
Here are some the best coffee shops I have discovered in the city.
It was a friend who introduced me to Barnini on the Oude Vaartplaats, right by the City Theater. It's a small, cozy coffee bar where you can drop by for coffee, tea, breakfast, brunch, lunch, something sweet or smoothie.
Their specialty, is bagels; semi-warm with all kinds of spreads, they make a great light lunch. Delicious! I'm still not sure which one I like best and order a different one each time.
When the weather's nice, you can sit outside on the terrace. That's especially fun at the weekends when there's a market going on at the Oude Vaartplaats, even during the week, a great spot for people watching.
If you're a bit chilly, the vintage interior of Barnini invites you in and makes you feel at home. The furniture seems like a selection of random things put together, which is exactly what makes Barnini so cozy.
It's always crowded here, so you need to get lucky if you want to find a spot at peak times like lunch. Luckily, its popularity doesn't make Barnini a less pleasant place to be. Although it's so small, it never gets really noisy and personnel always stays friendly.
There's not that much space, though. You won't be sitting on each other's laps, but if it gets crowded, it can get a bit “full”. However, it is possible to make a reservation for special events, so I highly recommend doing that.
Oude Vaartplaats 10
Important: you can only pay cash here. Bagels start at €6 and warm drinks at €3, but it's best to go get some cash because I assure you, you'll want to try other things on the menu as well.
The Kaffeenini coffee shop in the Nationalestraat is Barnini's little sister. I'd been a fan of Barnini ever since I tasted a delicious salmon bagel there, so it goes without saying that I had to test whether Kaffeenini lives up to the family standards.
As you might know by now, I'm a big fan of second breakfasts. I often get up around 6.30 – 7 a.m. when I'm in Belgium, which means that by 10 – 11 a.m. at the latest, I need a little snack.
That's no different when I'm out exploring so Kaffeenini was the perfect mid-morning stop between my visits to several museums in Antwerp.
It was crowded, but I found a small table for two and checked the menu for some much-needed caffeine and a bite to eat. I decided to go with a cold latte macchiato and bread pudding. The bread pudding was a nostalgia thing. My mom sometimes bought bread pudding at the baker's when I was little at it was always a treat.
But back to Kaffeenini. I actually like it better there than Barnini; it's more spacious and more natural light comes in through the large windows. Service is just as friendly as at Barnini and I didn't have to wait long for my order to arrive.
Verdict? Approved! I'll definitely drop by Kaffeenini again, for a drink, something sweet or a light lunch.
Check the Facebook page for opening times and the menu.
One of my closest friends, Sybille, lives in Antwerp, but we don't get to see each other that much as we both have busy schedules and, let's face it, to Belgians like us the one-hour drive or train ride between Leuven and Antwerp is considered looooooong.
But when I do make it to Belgium's fashion city, Sybille always takes me to one of the coffee shops I haven't been to yet. She's been living in and around Antwerp her entire life and knows where to find all the coffee bars. This time she took me to Cafématic.
In a quiet street close to the alternative Kammenstraat and fancy Nationalystraat, Cafématic is a place locals hang out. It has a vintage interior and looks a bit like an old school cafeteria. Luckily, there are only waiters here, no teachers.
Cafématic serves lunch, snacks, and sweets, but is best known for its special hot drinks (ginger coffee, anyone?) and homemade lemonades. The coffee is the Illy brand.
I was a bit hungry (surprise, surprise) so ordered vegetable soup, it was really good and served with a decent amount of bread. I didn't have a coffee, so I can't say if you'll find the best coffee in Antwerp here or not.
Still, a coffee shop to remember!
We were on our way to the Red Star Line Museum when we spotted Goesting (which means something like “appetite”, “being in the mood for”), a breakfast and lunch spot at the Falconplein in Antwerp.
We'd only had a light breakfast and surely it wasn't a good idea to step into a museum hungry?! So we decided to check Goesting out.
When we walked in, some people were having a late breakfast, there was a lady sipping her coffee while reading the newspaper. We found a spot and started reading the menu.
So many options!
You could have different kinds of breakfast sandwiches, eggs, an elaborate breakfast, pancakes… and there were the light lunch options, like soup. I have to admit, though, we both immediately made up our minds.
We would order a boke met choco. We knew our choice was a little unhealthy and to keep up appearances we also considered the other options, but not really. Bread, Nutella and coffee it would be!
I've never been much of a coffee drinker, but now coffee shops have become trendy in Belgium and an increasing amount of places are offering coffee with another flavor, like chocolate or hazelnut, I'm starting to grow fond of the liquid that wakes me up better than tea (sorry, cup of tea, you're still my favorite!).
We ended up spending an hour at Goesting, chatting and slowly enjoying our second breakfast, including a Nutella refill. This is one of those places where I could easily spend a morning, with my laptop, a good book or newspaper.
When I was working on my Antwerp City Guide, a friend of mine recommended I check out Revista. A cafe in Antwerp's hip “Het Zuid” or south area where you can also get some snacks and light lunch, but that's not what's special about it (obviously).
It's called”Revista” because of the selection of magazines customers can choose to read while they're having a drink or food.
The magazines you find at Revista aren't the typical gossip magazines you find in the newsagent. They're more niche, specialist and themed magazines about interior design, nature and so on.
Everyday you can order freshly made soup for lunch and that's just what I did. I have to admit I forgot what kind of soup it was, but I do remember finishing my bowl, must have been good!
Karel Rogierstraat 47
6. Kolonel Coffee
One of the coffee shops who take their beans very seriously; this place has great reviews and is often said to have the best coffee in Antwerp. With the ‘ferrari' of espresso machines behind the bar and coffee beans from their own roastery (which they started in 2016) if you're looking for a high quality cup of coffee, this is the place for you.
All the food on their breakfast and lunch menu is freshly prepared using quality and seasonal ingredients and their homemade cakes and muesli are sure to entice you if you're looking for something sweet.
Another exceptional coffee roaster and cafe on the Antwerp coffee scene, you won't be disappointed by the quality of their coffee. These caffeine lovers know their stuff, have a direct relationship with the farmers who grow their beans and roast the green coffee beans in Antwerp. It will be a cup of coffee to remember! As well as filter and espresso coffee they serve tea and exceptional hot chocolate made from chocolate drops with steamed milk poured over, perfect for a chilly day.
Important: if you don't have a Belgian bank account you can only pay cash here.
More things to do in Antwerp
Check out this list of things to do in Antwerp to keep yourself occupied in between coffee breaks.
Where to stay in Antwerp
Check Booking.com for an extensive list of options for all budgets and needs.
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