Playground Coffee – Hamburg (DE)
Great coffee and lush burgers are a match made in heaven
Throughout this year I went back to my home town of Hamburg more than in the two previous years combined and it’s not just the wonderful people who keep drawing me back. It’s the incredible vibe that Germany’s second largest city has developed over the past couple of months. Every time I was back there I discovered new burger bars, brunch places, cute boutiques, bars, nightclubs and, most importantly great new coffee spots.
During my very last visit a few weeks ago I stumbled upon Hamburg’s newest specialty coffee arrival, which to my surprise is run by an old friend. Initially I found Playground Coffee on Instagram but it wasn’t until the day of my arrival that I realized who was behind it. Vejlko Tatalovic is a well known character in the local coffee scene and we’ve shared many great cups of coffee together in the past. So I texted him to announce my immediate arrival and that I was super excited to see his latest project. His reply: “Can’t wait to have you!”
After my friend and I parked the car outside the Abaton Cinema, which is right next to the city’s huge university, we went on a quest to find Playground Coffee and after seeing an image on Facebook of the police box on the opposite side of the road, I had a pretty good idea of where it might be. But, when we stood at the location in question it was only after performing a very careful scan of the façade and windows in front of us that we discovered that Playground Coffee is in fact a shop in shop inside Otto Burgers. This was indeed a surprise but not a bad one, I might add.
We popped inside and said hi to the guys behind the counter, ordered some coffee and waited for Vejlko to arrive with freshly printed labels for his current coffees. These are some of the funkiest and most awesome labels I have seen in ages. When the man himself finally arrived and joined us at our outside table, he was thrilled to get such positive feedback on his latest venture. The coffee was as you’d expect perfectly prepared, naturally sweet and delicious. We had a few flat whites and one of Playground’s Mr. Lawa Lawa filter coffee from El Salvador. Vejlko later also gave us two of their funky posters to take home.
Playground’s concept is actually simple, yet immediately convincing. What Vejlko, Marc and Matze are trying to do here is present amazing coffee in a casual and playful way. Nothing snooty, nothing complicated. Just fun, great taste and the kind of neighbourhood hospitality that Hamburgers appreciate so much. Being inside Otto Burger is really not a bad idea either. As Vejlko said: “People often come here for a burger and realize that we also serve awesome coffee so they have one after lunch and come back a few hours later for another one. Or, people come for coffee and stay for a burger too. We’re also putting up a new sign outside because we know people often don’t realize we’re even here. It’s all in the planning.” My friend and I also didn’t just come for coffee. We suddenly got so hungry that we ordered two burgers with fries and sweet potato fries. So good!
The location might also just be the kind of goldmine that you often wish you could score for your own business. The university, which has thousands of caffeine hungry students, is a great source of customers. Furthermore, the area itself, which is full of yuppies, Latte Macchiato mamas and tourists is actually in desperate need of a place like this. There are plenty of places that serve bad coffee but there was nothing of this kind of quality. Until now.
For the time being the three guys are just testing things out, trying to establish themselves as a magnet for people who appreciate great coffee and possibly, quality burgers and whatever comes next, will come when the time is right. We’re happy to see these guys flourish and can only advise that any local resident or visitor to Hamburg should swing by some time. You won’t be disappointed.