Cool Coffee Bars in Downtown Athens

First of all, Athens and its surroundings have numerous great cafes and the coffee culture is very vivid. Two exceptional coffee bars stand out in the city centre of Athens: Tailor Made and Taf Coffee. These two coffee bars are very cool and modern yet still have a unique local atmosphere and most importantly they serve high quality coffee.

Tailor Made Micro Roastery and Cocktail Bar

Plateia Agia Irini 2, Monastiraki
Athens, Greece

Tailor Made is an absolutely cool coffee (and cocktail) bar – a place for afternoon coffee and snacks during the day and cocktails at night. The place is beautifully made with natural colors and elements but what was in my opinion the absolutely coolest element was the brown leather aprons the baristas were wearing! The leather aprons highlighted nicely the craftsmanship of the barista work and I must say they looked very sexy too.

On our visit to Tailor Made we had ice-coffee, a regular cappuccino (fabulous!), a sandwich and a delicious raspberry cheesecake (in a jar). All of them tasted just right and were soon gone. Tailor Made also has its own micro roastery and I bought some coffee beans for home as well – I just could not resist their pink coffee packages of Ethiopian beans. You’ll see the pink coffee package soon on my Instagram and perhaps here on the blog as well.   

At Tailor Made's bar on the wall there is a carved mural of a man’s face. Later I found out the man is architect Ernst Ziller who in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a major designer of royal and municipal buildings in Athens. 

Taf Coffee

Em. Benaki 7-9
Athens, Greece

Taf Coffee is famous for their roastery and baristas who have done well in the international coffee competitions (World Barista Championship and Brewers Cup). But that’s not all - the founder and CEO of Taf Coffee, Yiannis Taloumis, has received SCAE’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. Based on all the recognition they have had they are truly committed to coffee at Taf. Naturally, when visiting Athens a cup of cappuccino at Taf was on my list! I visited their coffee shop right in the city center. Their roastery is located outside of Athens in an industrial suburb – hopefully next time I have the chance to visit the famous roastery as well.


Pop-up Café Days in Kärdla, Estonia

For anyone travelling in Estonia on the first days of August here is a last minute tip you don’t want to miss. On the island of Hiiumaa there will be the Pop-up Café Days - one of the most awaited events in the summer of Hiiumaa. This is an yearly event and is now being held for the 9th time. On the café day several cafes will their doors for just one day in different locations throughout the town of Kärdla: in beautiful back gardens of locals, at the seaside, and other places in the town. The main event is only one day but there are additional happenings outside of Kärdlä also one day before and after so all weekend you can find pop-up cafes in the island.

I was at the Hiiumaa café days last year and enjoyed the event very much. It was so much fun walking with a café map from one café to another and drinking lots of coffee and tasting all sorts of food and pastry. The atmosphere was very similar to Restaurant day and the event gathered a lot of people. The most popular cafes got crowded and I even recognized a few Estonian celebrities at the café Bella Rosa. By the way café Bella Rosa was a super nice Italian style restaurant café in an absolutely beautiful garden - like a garden restaurant of dreams! At café Bella Rosa they made really good pizza, served also wine, and had tiramisu and other cakes on the dessert menu.

Best coffee on the café day I had at King Coffee’s. It was a hot summer day and their ice-coffee tasted heavenly.

This year Hiiumaa Café Days will be on July 30 - August 2. Main event is on Saturday August 1.
For more information see their website and Kohvikutepaev in Facebook.    


Sweet Power Bites: Coffee Truffles

Raw cakes and raw chocolate are nowadays very trendy and more and more recipes are presented in magazines and blogs. In my limited experience of raw desserts I have noticed that the selection is very wide – from very poor tasting to absolutely delicious treats. I guess it is no surprise that these coffee truffles became my favorites since I love coffee and chocolate. Only this time these power bites are a bit healthy too.

The original recipe is from a raw food book by Finnish cookbook writer Karita Tykkä. I have modified Karita’s recipe a little by changing the suggested nespresso coffee capsule into another instant coffee powder and at the same time adding the amount of coffee in the mixture. First of all, it seemed odd to add capsuled coffee into a raw cacao dessert - somehow these two do not fit in the same recipe in my opinion. Anyway, I wanted to get a strong coffee flavour in the truffles so using one capsule seemed also too little for my taste. The amount of coffee is naturally depended on personal preference and can be adjusted accordingly.  

I also thought about using an espresso in the recipe but since the mixture does not need that much liquid in it I chose to use coffee powder. Perhaps next time I’ll try adding a few drops of espresso or cold coffee in the mixture.  

Most of the time I make coffee at home with an espresso machine but sometimes I also use instant coffee. My absolute favorite instant coffee is a brand called Africafe – a fairtrade coffee coming from Tanzania. Africafe differs from many other instant coffees by its silky powder-like texture and smooth taste. I used Africafe in these coffee truffles and I think it suited perfectly.

Coffee Truffles (10-12 truffles)

  • 2 cups pecans 
  • 10-12 dates (fresh or soaked in water, without seed)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of unsweetened (raw) cacao powder 
  • ½-1 tea spoon vanilla powder  
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 pinch of salt (optional, I used organic Kalahari salt)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of instant coffee powder (Africafe or similar non-grainy instant coffee powder)
  • For topping:  shredded coconut flakes and/or cacao powder.
  • Crush the pecans with a food processor or mixer.
  • Add the dates and mix. If the dates are dry, add a small amount of water for moisture. Soaking the dates softens them for blending. Cutting the dates in small before mixing also helps in getting a more smooth paste. Although dates are dried, they're not usually fully dehydrated.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients with the crushed pecans and dates and mix thoroughly.
  • Take a small amount of the paste, and roll small balls. Dip each ball in coconut flakes or cacao powder. 
  • Put the truffles in freeze to harden. Store them frozen and take them in room temperature 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Suomeksi (In Finnish)

Kahvitryffelit (10-12 kpl)

2 dl pekaanipähkinöitä
10-12 taatelia (tuoretta tai pienessä vesimäärässä liuotettua, kivettömiä)
4-5 rkl (raaka) kaakaojauhetta (sokeroimatonta)
½ tl vaniljajauhetta
2-3 rkl hunajaa
Ripaus suolaa (ei välttämätön, käytin Kalaharin suolaa)
1-3 rkl pikakahvijauhetta (Africafe tai vastaava ei rakeinen kahvijauhe toimii hyvin)
Kuorrutukseen: kookosrouhetta ja/tai kaakaojauhetta

Rouhi pekaanipähkinät monitoimikoneessa tai vastaavassa.
Lisää taatelit ja sekoita. Jos taatelit vaikuttavat kuivilta, lisää hieman vettä helpottamaan massan muodostumista. Taatelit voi myös leikata pienemmiksi paloiksi helpottamaan niiden sekoittamista. 
Lisää loput raaka-aineet ja sekoita hyvin.
Pyörittele taikinasta pieniä palloja ja kierittele pallot kookosrouheessa tai kaakaojauheessa.
Laita tryffelit jääkaappiin tai pakastimeen tekeytymään. Säilytä pakastimessa ja ota huoneenlämpöön n. 15 min ennen tarjoilua. Nauti!


Helsinki Coffee Festival 2015

The first Helsinki Coffee Festival was organized over the weekend and let me tell you - I didn’t sleep that much last night. Apparently I had one too many cappuccinos at the festival and all the caffeine kept me awake. But there were so many wonderful coffees to taste that how could I have said no.

At the festival coffee roasteries mainly coming from Finland (from Helsinki to Rovaniemi) were presenting and serving their coffees prepared with different brewing methods. In addition to the roasteries other companies related to coffee making were present. The festival also had a nice program of coffee talks with interesting guests. The Speciality Coffee Association of Europe's (SCAE) Finnish Chapter also arranged the official Finnish Barista Championship and Brewers Cup finals at the festival.  

I absolutely loved the festival and hope this becomes an annual event to showcase the best roasteries and coffees, learn about the latest trends, meet people, and taste and share coffee in good company.

Cappuccinos made with special oat milk developed by Oatly.

Coffee books and magazines to read at Paulig's stand.

Hot discussion at the speaker's corner on how to become a coffee roaster and how not to burn down your roastery.

Loving this amazing fruity and sweet coffee by Turun kahvipaahtimo. 

Kattilahalli was a great location for the festival but maybe next year the festival needs a bigger space? Looking forward to the next Helsinki Coffee Festival!