When Sina Assadi and his team first opened the doors to The Coffee Gang on Cologne’s Hohenstaufenring his venture was a bold experiment at best. Sure, the people of Germany’s 4th largest city drank as much coffee as anyone but only very few had ever tried lightly roasted, single origin coffees prepared with real attention to detail. And still today, almost two years since first opening his doors, Sina regularly encounters customers who ‘just don’t like this acidic stuff’, as he described to me during my recent visit.
Cologne is undoubtedly one of Germany’s friendliest cities, a place packed with history and contradiction. On the one hand it is home to the country’s most iconic cathedral and one of the largest Roman Catholic populations, on the other hand it is also known for its liberal attitude towards the LGBT community, hosting one of the biggest gay pride parades each year.
Sina and his girlfriend Micki spent a year in Australia, working at various coffee shops along the way where they gained invaluable experience in the art of specialty coffee. “I had no idea coffee could be so incredibly diverse and beautiful. My time in Oz completely turned my world upside down,” Sina confessed while plating a slice of his famous NY cheese cake.
When I visited The Coffee Gang on a regular Tuesday afternoon, the place was completely packed with only one stool by the window left available. The space is both light and dark, depending on where you sit, inviting you to either sit and work at one of the larger communal tables or have a quick espresso and flick through the daily paper on your way to work.
The back is decorated in reclaimed window frames that Sina sourced from a friend who collects all sorts of old furniture and other items. Their coffee offering is a reflection of seasonality and personal preference of the team. At the time of writing all coffees were roasted by JB Kaffee in Munich, but previous guests coffees have also hailed from the likes of The Barn and Bonanza.
Next to their famous NY cheesecake, they also offer a stunningly good Banana bread that is always toasted and served warm. “This is one of the recipes we brought back from Australia and it’s been a massive hit,” Sina offered with a wink. The Coffee Gang is joins my previous review of Ernst Kaffeeröster as the only two specialty coffee shops in town that really know what they’re doing, and doing it really fine.