Trakteren – Amsterdam (NL)
The firsts to put Oud West on the specialty coffee map
I still remember the first time I drove down the Overtoom in Amsterdam’s Oud-West neighbourhood after just moving to Holland about 6 years ago and thinking: “Gosh, this doesn’t look very nice, does it? It’s all car rental agencies and furniture shops”. My first impression of this neighbourhood couldn’t have been more off the mark. 1 year later I was living on Overtoom and another 1 1/2 years later I bought my first apartment in what is fast becoming Amsterdam’s most exciting place to live. These days, the area between De Clerqstraat and Overtoom is brimming with exciting new places to eat, shop and drink that are giving De Pijp a serious run for its money. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the old West welcomed its first real specialty coffee shop.
When old childhood friends Erik Oosterhuis and Edward Beumer first came up with the idea of bringing specialty coffee to this part of Amsterdam, they were both looking for a job and had no experience in standing behind an Espresso machine, what so ever. Yet, after 1 year of doing some pretty intense research, scouting, planning and practicing they finally opened their doors in the summer of 2011. Although the name “Trakteren” is rather unintelligible to us foreigners (trakteren is the Dutch word for: to treat), there is no doubt that this small coffee bar on the hip Jan-Pieter Heijestraat is quickly becoming a household name for some of the best coffee and latte art in town.
What sets Trakteren apart from other coffee places in town is the personal experience that each customer is given. Whether you’re a coffee novice, amateur or expert, Erik and Edward will share their passion for great coffee with you, no matter what. Therefore, if you really want to learn something while sipping your perfectly made Cappuccino, ask Erik and Edward some questions about coffee. Before you know it, you’ll be taking notes.
Another great way to explore the subtle differences between the various coffee growing regions and roasting levels is to attend their monthly Espresso tasting experience. Held every first Sunday of the month, this intense 1 hour session will not only give you an adequate caffeine boost to fuel your power-walk around Vondelpark, but also allow you to get a better understanding of the complex world of specialty coffee. As Edward rightly says: “Coffee is a bit like wine. If you just have one glass every now and again you probably won’t notice much of a difference. It’s only when you do a tasting that you actually start developing a palate capable of differentiating between the flavours.”
If you want to travel around the world of coffee from the comforts of your own home, you can take home a 250g bag of one of their 9 single origin coffees or house blend. They have the entire globe covered, from Cuba all the way to India and as far as Papua New Guinea. In addition, every month they offer a specially selected single origin coffee, which they match to the current season. At the moment (January 2013) they have a full bodied and lightly sweet single origin coffee from Guatemala, which they selected specifically to match the cold outside. These monthly specials are offered alongside their regular house blend, which is made up of 6 different types of beans. This is also the only place in town where you can have “Babyccinos” and “Mini Macchiatos”. Who would say no to that, right?
Really don’t like coffee? Don’t worry. Erik and Edward also offer a wide range of selected loose leaf teas, fresh juices, home-made cakes and a chai tea that is quickly getting a reputation as the best in town.
The only downside is the relatively limited seating space inside, which on cold days like these can be a bit of gamble. So, if you don’t want to have your coffee to go and can’t find a seat at the back, use it as an opportunity to lurk about the bar and pick their brains with all those questions you always wanted to ask, like: “Do Italians really put chocolate sprinkles on their Cappuccinos”?