One of the things I’ve missed the most during the past year has been the ability to travel freely. You might not know this but The Coffeevine originally started as my personal guide to the best specialty coffee bars I found wherever I went. For obvious reasons, there wasn’t much of that happening lately and I cannot begin to express how much I am longing to be back on the road again.
During a recent visit to see my sister in the beautiful city of Heidelberg in southern Germany, I finally got a chance to pop into a relatively new outlet by local institution, Coffee Nerd.
The original coffee shop that was founded by Thomas Mohr in 2012 was at the forefront of the region’s specialty coffee awakening when the rest of the country was still trying to figure out what specialty coffee was.
Over the years, I’ve had the chance to visit Coffee Nerd many times and I was always impressed with Thomas’ ongoing commitment to taking things to the next level. He works with a rotating list of some of Europe’s finest roasters, most of whom have also been featured in my coffee subscription boxes, and he takes sustainibility very seriously.
His newest coffee shop is located on the Bahnhofstrasse and is not very far from the original but feels completely different. While the first shop is on a busy main road overlooking a fountain, the second shop is in a quieter residential area surrounded by icecream shops, florists and brunch cafés.
The interior features clean Scandinavian design elements, big windows and tasteful decorations on the walls. Elements such as the golden banisters give it a splash of retro while the espresso counter stands vertically against the windows to allow for a full view of the barista at work. The La Marzocco Linea PB sits next to two Acaia Pearl scales that are integrated into the counter and during my visit, I noticed several customers who requested handbrews.
There is also a tasty selection of sandwiches and pastries that are freshly delivered every day but there are no hot breakfast dishes such as eggs on the menu.
It was interesting to learn that Thomas had designed the entire space himself and worked with local carpenters to build custom furniture that best suited the space and his needs. Contrary to what most other coffee bars do, however, Coffee Nerd recently introduced a new way to let customers choose which coffees they’d like to enjoy. A clipboard on the wall next to the bar shows various flavours, which are then consequently circled by the barista to describe the cup profiles of the coffees that are currently available.
I learned that this is done to help people navigate coffees more easily because as the barista explained: “Many who come in here don’t really know what a certain origin stands for or what a particular processing method means but generally speaking, they know what they like in their cup. That is why we’ve decided to test out this new navigation.” Funnily enough, as I sat there sipping on my excellent flat white, I saw two student types arguing with each other about whether they liked this system. If anything, it’s a good conversation topic.
For such a small town like Heidelberg that is still largely dominated by large coffee chains and Italian espresso, Coffee Nerd is doing an extraordinary job and offering locals and visitors alike a glimpse of what specialty coffee is all about and this new location is a wonderful place to experience it.