I walked straight past the sign announcing the day’s specials and didn’t notice I had already gone a whole block further until some strange suspicion started nagging me and I proceeded to double check Google Maps. Indeed, I had walked past it, but I swear I had looked at the buildings as I headed down Reichenbergerstrasse and I didn’t see it. After I had retraced my steps and took a more comprehensive view of what was before me I noticed the sign and looked into the courtyard at number 36 where I found what I was looking for. % Arabica Berlin.
The first time I came across one of these cafés was in Kyoto a few years ago and I was instantly struck by the gorgeous design, iconic branding and its somewhat puzzling approach to roasting coffee. Never before had I found a place that did ‘on-demand-coffee-roasting’ but % Arabica did just that. At % Arabica Berlin, like at all other global locations, there is no difference to its approach and as you walk along the gorgeous bar sporting a 3-group Slayer you’ll come face to face with the famed Tornado King roaster.
You can say what you want about this approach and the idea that % Arabica will undoubtedly have many customers who walk in, order coffee and rather than letting it rest for a few days consume it right away but there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that they do something pretty unique and it looks absolutely stunning.
The space is surprisingly big with a long bench along the left side (unfortunately rather uncomfortable to sit on since the wall is too far back) a high table at the back and a big open kitchen where many Japan-inspired dishes are freshly made. You also cannot help but notice a large contingent of Asian staff and guests, something that enhances % Arabica’s heritage.
Surveying the room, you’ll notice many little details such as the vinyl player and suspended Chemexes behind the bar, the perfectly arranged to-go-utensils-tray and the coffee bags in glass cases above the seating area. It feels wonderfully airy and decluttered, something that still plagues many cafés nowadays.
The coffee menu includes all your favourites from flat whites to (somewhat complicatedly prepared) pour-overs and the food offers yummy sounding dishes roast pork shoulder and zucchini salad. Time to pay a visit to brand new addition to Berlin’s ever-vibrant coffee scene!