Traders from the Netherlands first came into contact with coffee in the early 16th century, when the trade in coffee beans was still in the hands of the Turks and Yemeni, who jealously guarded over their lucrative monopoly. In 1616, the Dutch reportedly stole a coffee tree and planted it in Ceylon and the Dutch coffee trade was born. By 1661 the Dutch East India Company's first coffee fleet landed in Amsterdam, where the coffee was auctioned off.
The nation's love for the dark brew has grown ever since, and per capita, the Dutch now drink about 40 gallons (150 liters) of coffee a year. That's more than double the American consumption and almost six times that of the British. In fact, the Netherlands usually places within the top five coffee drinking nations in the world, along with the Scandinavian countries. But, until relatively recently, if you asked for koffie in the Netherlands, you were very likely to receive a cup of black filter coffee with sugar and coffee cream on the side, along with a single cookie (usually speculaas or a bitterkoekje, similar to Italian amaretti biscuits). Today, however, most Dutch cafés serve cappuccino, espresso, and other Italian-style coffees, and there is a thriving coffee bar culture in the Netherlands.
While some three-quarters of the coffee consumed within the Dutch home is still filtered coffee, Amsterdam now boasts a number of leading coffee bars for true aficionados, where passionate baristas offer bespoke blends and evangelize their latest batch of single origin beans. There are also a few well-known chains for lovers of coffee-flavored drinks.
01 of 16
The secret to the success of this much-lauded mainstay in the city’s coffee scene is undoubtedly its gleaming beast of a machine—a Mirage Triplette Classic Idrocompresso by Kees van der Westen—coupled with Buscaglione coffee.
Thanks to outposts in Centrum, De Pijp, and Oud-West and shop-in-shops in Oost and Spui, their dependably delicious coffee is only ever a short stroll away.
02 of 16
Get your caffeine kick while shopping in the 9 Straatjes or Jordaan at one of this mini-chain’s two cozy coffee bars. Whether you go for the purest pour-overs or perfectly pulled flat-whites with silky foam, the premium organic Tanzanian coffee beans will have you percolating with pleasure. There are also fresh juices, patisserie, and some breakfast and lunch options on offer. The service has enthusiasts screaming for joy, and if we're to believe the company website, that's because "Providing the ultimate experience to our guests is our reason for living."
03 of 16
The local laptop set hunch overhanging tables at this strikingly renovated former cinema (Ceintuurbaan 282-284). The soaring ceilings offer plenty of room for all those big ideas, while the color scheme of beachy beiges keeps stress levels under control.
Unsurprisingly, there’s coffee and a number of coconut-themed offerings on the menu, including coconut pancakes, coconut-lime bread, and fresh coconut juice. But there are also plenty of other inducements to stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or indeed, that cup of single origin coffee.
04 of 16
Despite its generic name, which means "espresso factory" in Dutch, enthusiasts say there's nothing average about the java brewed up at Espressofabriek (Gosschalklaan 7; IJburglaan 1489). The baristas at the two-outlet chain claim to serve only the very best slow coffee to Amsterdam's fast set. There's also old-fashioned apple pie, croissants, muffins, tramezzini (crustless Italian sandwiches), and a large outdoor patio (at the Westergasfabriek branch).Continue to 5 of 16 below.
05 of 16
Ask any Amsterdam coffee aficionado about their favorite spots and chances are they’ll mention this hole in the wall in West near bustling Ten Katemarkt. And if they don't, they probably don't know their coffee. That’s because, as the name implies, Lot 61 (Kinkerstraat 112) actually roast their own beans in-house. Seating is limited and doesn’t invite lingering, but with excellent flat whites, cold brews and expertly pulled espressos there are plenty of reasons to pop in if you’re in the area.
06 of 16
Take a trip to Turin in the middle of the canal belt at Caffé Il Momento (Singel 180). You won't find latte art on your cappuccino, only the authentic Italian article with a thick layer of milky foam—as it's meant to be. But you'll be too busy admiring the gleaming vertical La Victoria Arduino espresso machine to notice.
07 of 16
This coffee and tea bar (Pretoriusstraat 33) attracts an eclectic clientele—from headscarved immigrants to laptopped freelancers and hip young things. Tempting lemon drizzle cake, scones, and banana bread beckon from the counter. Cheery daffodil colored tea caddies, a turquoise floor, and large windows give Rum Baba a sunny disposition even in inclement weather. The beans are roasted in-house, and the coffee pulled on a snazzy Kees van der Westen Spirit Duette machine. There are also various slow brews on offer. Owned by Jeroen Keyzer, the force behind Monkey Chief, a hip Amsterdam tea brand known for its zip-foil bags of green-, white- and oolong loose leaf teas, Rum Baba is also a true tea aficionado’s destination.
08 of 16
Casa Brazuca (Rijnstraat 22) in Amsterdam's Rivierenbuurt serves a proprietary blend made from green Arabica coffee beans, freshly roasted in-house. They sell coffee varieties from coffee farms around the world, but there's a special emphasis on Brazilian coffee beans (after all, Casa Brazuca means 'Brazilian home' in Portuguese). Experience the aromatic nuances of Brasil Fátima Organic beans and fair trade Café Terrara coffee from the biodynamic Demeter-certified Fazenda Terra Nova estate in the south of Brazil. The small lunch menu features a few Brazilian bites (try the gluten-free pão de queijo, a traditional Brasilian cheese roll) and Amazonian fruit juices, including acai, acerola, and caju.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
09 of 16
With its housemade cakes and coffee prepared however you like—including espresso, filter, siphon, and cold brews—made with best quality beans from De Eenhoorn, Bocca and Boot Koffie, Coffee Bru (Beukenplein 14H) is a must-visit for true coffee aficionados. The eclectic décor includes a wall garden, mismatched furniture, and a few comfy chairs where locals congregate. Nosh on niche chocolate bars by quality brands such as Granada Chocolate Company and Chocolademakers and various teas, cakes, sandwiches, and freshly squeezed juices.
10 of 16
This is one for the purists. Founded by two ex-barista trainers, Headfirst Coffee Roasters (Westerstraat 150) has earned the die-hard loyalty of locals with its pure, bright, strong brews, pulled on a La Marzocco espresso machine.
11 of 16
Join the smörgåsbord of international patrons at this spartan kaffebar (Sarphatipark 34) for beans from various Scandinavian micro-roasters, prepared using manual brewing methods such as pour-over, aeropress, and clever dripper or an espresso machine. The owners’ passion for their product can come across as bossy, but they may surprise you with a spot-on pairing of coffee and cuisine.
12 of 16
Sniff the freshly brewed aromas of organic, lightly roasted Caffènation coffee at KOKO (Oudezijdsachterburgwal 145) while flipping through vintage fashion magazines or fingering exclusive designer clothing labels, including Berlin-based brand Potipoti, Spanish shoes by Eva vs. Maria, Finnish labels R/H and SAMUJI and Dutch brands Monique Poolmans and Bravoure. Also on offer are vintage furniture and work by young artists and photographers. This coffee bar-slash-boutique-slash-gallery in the Red Light District is a breath of fresh air in a gritty area.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
13 of 16
This cozy mini-chain (Frederiksplein 29; Haarlemmerdijk 182) attracts a young hipster crowd with its slow coffee and comfy couches. Apparently, Two for Joy roasts their beans in small batches for the freshest taste. Head to this java stop if you're on the lookout for something different to perk you up: they offer siphoned, filtered or French pressed coffee, in addition to the usual Italian-style suspects.
14 of 16
The name comes from the song about Amsterdam's notorious Red Light District by singer-songwriter Drs. P, but this pristine coffee bar (Oudekerksplein 4) situated at the heart of the 'hood actually belongs to the next generation of De Wallen businesses, part of a continuing thrust to clean up Amsterdam's bawdiest borough. Slip a coin into the jukebox to enjoy jazz, funk, and hip hop while sipping on quality coffee made on a La Marzocca Strada espresso machine.
15 of 16
The fabulous fug of freshly ground coffee hits you as you enter this characteristic coffee and tea specialist, which was established in 1792. In addition to dozens of different coffees, Hofje van Wijs (Zeedijk 43) also offers a menu of Dutch treats, including plenty of cakes and pies and traditional Dutch meals with a twist—a recent menu featured "Yrseke mussels with white tea"—to be enjoyed on Hofje van Wijs' teacup-sized terrace.
16 of 16
No list of coffee bars would be complete without mentioning Coffee Company and Starbucks, even if only because they're so hard to avoid these days. Inspired by the "big city coffee rituals" of New York and London, Coffee Company was the first coffee bar to bring flavored coffees—think caramel cappuccino, flavored latte, white frozen mocha—to Dutch consumers. In fact, you could call Coffee Company the Netherlands' answer to the Seattle super chain. The Dutch brand, which opened its first shop on Amsterdam's busy Leidsestraat in 1996, has since been bought by coffee giant Douwe Egberts, and now has 36 coffee bars in 7 Dutch cities—and counting.
We find Starbucks' hype too strong and their coffee too weak for our Dutchified tastebuds, but we have to admit that the world's most famous coffee brand has kicked off its Amsterdam onslaught in style. Europe's biggest Starbucks (Utrechtsestraat 9) sits in a former 430 square meter (4,500 sqft) subterranean bank vault, which has been transformed into a cozy space with snug corners and coffee plants dangling from the windows. Local touches include a Delftware mural, which highlights the important role 17th-century Dutch traders played in exporting coffee around the world, and a wall decorated with "speculaasplanken" (the molds used to make speculaas cookies). There are also a dozen or more branches around Amsterdam, as well as at Schiphol International Airport and at several train stations.
P.S. Don't Ask for a Coffee Shop If You're Looking for Coffee in Amsterdam
Choose your words carefully when asking around for a good coffee place in Amsterdam. Mention the words ''coffee shop," and you'll be shown to an establishment where cannabis is sold and consumed. Instead, ask for a coffee bar or "koffietent."