Who knew good coffee could be found in a beer-drinking, once-socialist culture like Czech Republic?
In Prague, fair trade baristas and artisan roasters have put Czechs on the craft coffee map in Europe. Now, about 3.5 hours east of the Czech capital, little-known Ostrava is emerging with their own coffee scene. The city actually hosts its own Barista Cup and coffee festival each year, and even has their own roaster. I recently had a chance to discover Ostrava. In between sightseeing and delicious Ostravian food, I sipped all the specialty coffee I could drink here. It doesn’t boast the same level of coffee culture in Prague (yet) but Ostrava is definitely worth visiting (and tasting) on an easy day trip from Prague.
Here is my guide to third wave cafés and where you can find speciality coffee in Ostrava.
PetPunk is a cozy and compact café with the warmest barista-owner behind the counter. Before I could even ask about their coffee, we chatted up an entire convo, and discovered we had a common interest for storytelling and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Petr used to be a journalist so we quickly connected. He left journalism for the same reason I did – for something more meaningful. For him it was coffee. If you tell Petr what your palates are in for, he’ll recommend the right style and help you better understand specialty coffee. Apart from espresso-based drinks, you can also choose filter and AeroPress methods. Coffee is supplied by Nordbeans in nearby Liberec.
I opted for a single origin Panama bean for my cappuccino – grown at a higher elevation, about 7,000 feet, it’s a richer cup and with less caffeine.
Where: Nádražní 112/50
Čerstvý Boby translates to “fresh beans” and fittingly so. They offer quality Arabica beans from Africa and South America using only European roasters, which means there is very little travel time from bean-to-cup. I loved the trendy design and while there is not a whole lot of space here, I did like pulling up a stool by the window to people-watch while I savoured every last drop of my latté. At the time I visited they offered filtered coffee and well-balanced milk-based drinks like flat white.
Where: Nádražní 47
CØKAFE was my first taste of coffee in Ostrava just a stone’s throw from the famous Stodolni street. Coincidently, my Airbnb apartment was stumbling distance from the espresso bar (it doesn’t get better than that). Here you’ll find anything from flat white to cold brew like espresso tonic. I met Jonas who happens to brew a mean cup. Ask about his love for coffee because he has an interesting story. He fell into coffee by accident when his sister called him up with a summer job to wash dishes at a café. He thought it was a good way to meet girls and find love. Instead, he fell in love with the espresso machine. I guess it was a match made in heaven because now he’s working on opening his own local roastery in Vitkovice just outside the city. He’s practically married to coffee now. He drinks 15 cups a day.
CØKAFE beans are from Five Elephant Roastery in Berlin. They have plenty of seating and inexpensive breakfast options like scrambled eggs and pancakes for under €4.
Where: Nádražní 26
U Černého stromu
The big brother of the espresso bar in Ostrava, U Černého stromu was the first specialty café to open in the city, introducing Ostravians to a new way to enjoy coffee that is single origin, locally roasted, fair and sustainable. The name translates to “black tree” and I was excited to learn they use La Bohème roastery where I had my first coffee cupping experience in Prague. Their focus is on direct trade coffee from Africa, Central and South America and single farmer cooperatives.
Where: Across from the New Town Hall
Probably the most important coffee in Ostrava is Laura Coffee. It’s Ostrava’s very own roaster having started in 2012, around the same time that “Black Tree” café opened. They now supply coffee to many cafés, restaurants and hotels throughout the Czech Republic.
The original café and roastery is located just outside Ostrava in Hrabůvka but you can taste Laura Coffee at many places in the centre where they supply their roasts.
Where: Polívkárna, Bistro Boule, and the bookstore-café Centrum-Pant.
How to Get to Ostrava
The easiest way to get to Ostrava is with any of Czech Republic’s well-connected trains. České Dráhy is the national train company in Czech Republic. RegioJet and Leo Express both have free WIFI. Omio is a great aggregator for finding the best route and price.
There are multiple departures a day. The journey time is about 3 hours and costs just €6-12 each way.