It can be said that Caffènation was a pioneer when it opened up its first speciality coffee bar in Antwerp thirteen years ago. They grew into being an established brand known throughout Europe, with now 2 cafes and a roastery in Antwerp and a cafe in Amsterdam.
The old Caffènation roastery was located a bit outside the centre of Antwerp while the bar and packaging facilities were in another part of the city. It seemed only logical to look for a new place, where roasting, bar and logistics would be combined. Such place was found in the PAKT project in Berchem, where a number of small businesses share spaces in an old industrial site. A CrossFit gym, a rooftop farm, or a pizza restaurant are some of the diverse neighbours to the roastery.
A spacious city jungle welcomes you in Berchem
Coming from the street, you enter through a passage that leads to a courtyard. There, you can already spot customers sitting on the terrace out and front of the bar, with a leafy tree that is nicely shading it on hot days. The smell of roasting is coming from the side door where the roastery is placed and in full action.
Inside the café, the white concrete bar, the black polished floor, the rough brick wall and the full-height windows give the bar a relaxed and refreshing metropolitan feel that would blend in nicely in much bigger cities such as Berlin. The glass door of the bar can even fold open to create an airy open space on a beautiful day. It is certainly a level-up for the Antwerp café scene!
Quality water and coffee standards implemented by Damian Durda
Behind the bar, we find top-of-the line equipment including a white/transparent 3-group La Marzocco Strada, 2 white Anfim on-demand grinders (one for milk-based drinks and one for the espresso of the week) and a Bunn batch brewer. For the first 2 months, the barista team was joined by Damian Durda, a Polish coffee consultant who implemented the latest quality standards in everything water- and coffee-related.
We asked Damian about his experience working at the new Caffènation bar and roastery:
“I'm really surprised about Belgian kindness and hospitality. It's nice to see people are happy to see me. I like the audience at the bar: they are well educated (coffee-wise) and not demanding (snobby), but know what quality is. I like espresso and the fact that people are drinking espresso here!”
The new bar is currently only open during weekdays and its customers are a mix of the regular loyal crowd from the older shop and new locals stopping by for a cup of coffee and a breakfast.
“We want to be a place for everyone, young or old; we do not want to offend anyone.” defined the place Lieke Van Wassenhove who manages the place when the owner – Rob Berghmans – is unavailable.
Self-service coffee menu and seasonal drinks at Caffènation
On the coffee menu, you will find milk drinks of varying volumes (S/M/L), espresso and filter coffees of the week. If you prefer batch brew, you can get it at the self-service station that has always got a Bunn-ready coffee for you. Caffènation chose a self-service station for their batch-brewed coffees, offering the customers on the run a quick option.
They also offer you a taste before you actually buy it and the second refill is a bit cheaper! Currently, the best selling drinks include an iced white—a double shot espresso with milk, vanilla and ice— and a homemade ginger soda.
The roastery is ready for hungry visitors
With the new space, Caffènation stepped into an unknown area of the services they provide their customers with. Inspired by food offerings in many cafes abroad, Caffènation runs a kitchen within the premises as well, offering a light breakfast and lunch.
The kitchen is a semi-open space allowing the staff to keep an eye on the bar during busy hours, in case they need to jump in or help out.
The perfect space to host events
The Caffènation bar is spacious enough to host coffee-related events, such as the Raw Hustle Tour that came 1st July, when Matt Perger of Barista Hustle and Matt Graylee of Raw Material visited Antwerp with a presentation of possible sustainable solutions for the speciality coffee farmers. In late September, Caffènation will also host the Belgian Aeropress Championship qualifiers and the finals will take place here as well. The participants will compete with a Yirgacheffe roasted by the two-time Aeropress World Champion Jeff Verellen, who works in the roastery next door.
On our visit we tasted the espresso of the week, Rwanda Gitega, served by Damian, a very fruity shot with a sweet liquorice finish that tasted ‘like more’—a Dutch expression, meaning: “It was yummy!”
Come down to chill out at this developing area of PAKT and enjoy the great coffee!