Espresso Embassy – Budapest (HU)
The diplomats of great coffee
One of the most striking things about Budapest is its sheer beauty. The city on the Danube is one of the few capitals in this part of the continent that never saw major destruction during war or natural catastrophe, which is the main reason why you simply won’t see ugly communist blocks or cheap office towers in its stunning city center. In fact one of the only truly hideous buildings that I remember passing during my recent visit was the Marriot hotel. Seriously guys, give that monster a face lift!
Yet, while the country as a whole has often been on the brink of financial collapse, it seems Budapest still manages to encourage young entrepreneurs to start new business ventures, which are slowly but surely rejuvenating this regal city. Whether you are looking for thumping nightclubs that go on until early morning hours, midnight taco stands, outstanding galleries or indeed fantastic coffee, the Hungarian capital’s got it all. My sister, who lives in the southern city of Pecs, recently said: “If I can’t go to Germany to continue my studies, I will definitely do my best to move back to Budapest. This city is just too bloody awesome.” I cannot agree with her more.
After my early morning coffee at Madal, I made my way down to the government ministries heavy area near the stunning Hungarian parliament building. Fittingly emough, my next destination was called Espresso Embassy and it happened to be right nextdoor to the Embassy of Montenegro. I had just missed the early morning rush of office workers grabbing a coffee to go before heading to work but the place still pretty busy, regardless.
I took a seat at the bar and got chatting to the barista who was working away making slow coffees. After I introduced myself, he said: “Ah yes, we’ve been expecting you! I’m Tibor, I am the owner here.” “Oh, you have? I don’t really know anyone here. How is that possible?” I asked him. “Yes, yes. One of our baristas saw you posting something on Instagram and told us you’d be coming here today,” he replied casually. Right then. Not a bad start, haha.
Once he prepared two V60s for other guests, Tibor told me a bit more about how he got into coffee and the local coffee scene as a whole. Interestingly enough, he ran a small coffee bar inside a shop called Printa for a while where he served coffee by Danish roasters Coffee Collective. Not a bad level of quality to start off with. After about 2 years he was ready to move on to bigger things and found a lovely spot where to open his own coffee place. About 1 1/2 years ago Espresso Embassy welcomed its first guests and has been serving amazing coffees ever since.
The prominent menu on the wall features all the classic favourites like the Cortado and the Flat White but also a healthy selection of filter coffee options. I asked Tibor how the locals were reacting to specialty coffee being served in their city. He said: “Actually, Hungarians are really open minded when it comes to these sort of things. Customers who walk in here are usually very curious to find out more about which coffees we have on the grinders and are willing to try out new things.”
While I sat at the bar I took note of some of the most common customer orders and funnily enough, it seemed to me that the Flat White was the biggest hit. Sadly my Hungarian language skills are next to zero, which prevented me from tuning in on the exact content of their conversations with the baristas but it made me smile how Budapest was already the second Eastern European city, after Warsaw, where I witnessed a massive popularity for my personal favourite.
Espresso Embassy gets all of its beans from local roasters Casino Mocca, who seem to have made a bit of a splash on the scene ever since they appeared only a few months ago. Tibor told me: “These guys roast out of a garage out in the suburbs once or twice a week but their coffees are always amazing. We’re really proud to support them and serve their coffees here.”
Soon after, Tibor handed me a little tray with a coffee from Reko, Ethiopia, which he prepared using the v60. As soon as I had taken my first sip he handed me a second caraffe with the same coffee but as he said, “a fresher roast”. I got to compare the two and indeed you could taste quite a difference in flavour and body.
The guys here also offer a wide selection of loose leaf teas from Waterloo Tea and a healthy selection of baked goodies from a local bakery. While the space itself reminds you more of a beer tavern with its tunnel like back area, it’s still an excellent spot for sipping a delicious coffee in the sunshine – if you can get a seat outside – and experiencing great coffee in this gorgeous city. Warmly recommended!