Ohøj Coffee Roasting – Utrecht (NL)

From Paris to Utrecht. How American-born barista and roaster Kevin Ayers ended up opening the Dutch city’s first foreign owned café and roastery.

  • opening times:
    Mon: Closed, Tue: 8 - 12, Wed: 8 - 18, Sat: 10 - 18, Sun: 10- 17
  • wifi:
  • urls:
  • machine:
    Kees van der Westen Mirage
  • coffees on offer:
  • milk:
    Queens of dairy
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One of the wonderful things about the global coffee community is that it is full of surprise repeat encounters. And I don’t just mean stalking your favourite hottie barista from café to café as he or she gets around town. No, every now and again, there are truly unexpected and bizarre reunions that you didn’t see coming but that are even more amazing for that specific reason.

Minimalistic interiors

Minimalistic interior

During a recent and long overdue visit to Utrecht I paid a visit to a relatively new place that many people had recommended to me recently. Located in the city’s Rivierenwijk, admittedly a part of town that I’d so far never set foot in, Ohøj is perfectly inconspicious and if you didn’t know what you were looking for you might almost blissfully walk by without noticing a damn thing.

Owner Kevin Ayers

Owner Kevin Ayers

There, in that slightly dark space is where Kevin Ayers, formerlly of Coutume in Paris, set up shop earlier this year. When the connection first became evident, it was almost too unreal to be true. When we first featured Coutume in one of our coffee boxes many years ago, I was primarily communicating with Kevin about the planned collaboration. And now, Kevin was serving and roasting coffees in a residential area in Utrecht. What are the odds?

Roasting equipment

Roasting equipment

The main reason, as it turned out, was that Kevin’s French visa ran out and he was unable to get it renewed, despite having lived and worked in Paris for a good number of years and coming 2nd and 3rd in the French barista championships. Thus, when the moment came dangerously close, him and his wife had to make a choice: go back to the US or try and build a new life elsewhere in Europe? The couple decided to go with the latter and searched for a city with a slighlty underdeveloped coffee scene, affordable rent and good transportation links. And the winner was Utrecht.

Kevin roasts on a Diedrich roaster and pulls his shots on a classic Mirage by Kees van der Westen. The space is very minimalistic indeed but his large bar invites you to chat and linger. His choice of coffees is also rather interesting. He was one of the few people who was lucky enough to get his hands on some of This Side Up’s Burmese single origin coffee recently.

Coffees for purchase

Coffees for purchase

Opposite to most other coffee bars, Ohøj only offers a very small selection of handmade croissants and cakes. As Kevin explained: “Only what fits under my cake bell.” And if you wondered what ‘Ohøj’ stands for, you’ll be surprised to learn it’s less exotic than you may think. Just ask Kevin!

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