The best Prague cafes
The cafes in Prague are great, and the specialty coffee they serve is seriously good. It's easy to forget that or take it for granted. But when we travel, one of the things we miss the most about Prague is coffee. It's really that good.
It hasn't always been the case. Five yeas ago Zuzi came back from the specialty coffee workshop and the number of coffee shops we could visit shrunk to about two or three, much to Jan's dismay. Now when a new cafe opens, it is more likely to have good rather than bad coffee. Sure, they rarely bring anything very new or different to the table, but they are usually good. And it's not only about the "centre" anymore. None of the residential districts that surround it are actually lacking in the specialty coffee department.
So what makes the cafes in Prague so special? Passion. Specialty coffee seems to be a viable career in Prague, and the baristas of Prague's best coffee shops seem to genuinely like what they do. Most of the coffee shops are independently owned and can source their coffee from wherever they wish. Prague's leading specialty coffee roaster has set the prices of coffee fairly low, which means you get great bang for your buck. And at the coffee scene's core lies a community of baristas who know and continue pushing each other. And you generally don't get any attitude or scolding when you want sugar in your coffee.
It's time to reap the benefits. Here's the best cafes in Prague, according to us.
The must-visit Prague cafes
Sure, we are in onesip every single day. We start our Prague food tours around the corner. But that should not obscure the fact that Adam and Zdenek serve some of the best cups of coffee in town. Why? Because they care about every detail. That's why they chose the levers of a cool Kees van der Westen machine (although it is super inconvenient - they just insist the coffee tastes a bit better), along with coffee from the Bath-based Roundhil Coffee Roasters. And that's why they operate a tiny espresso bar that sits three, and they are in it every single day except Saturday.
Muj salek kavy
One of the first specialty coffee places in town and still a coffee institution, Muj salek kavy, the flagship of the Doubleshot coffee roasters is still a place for a coffee pilgrimage to the cool Karlin district. This is a well-oiled machine. The baristas - some famous names in the coffee circles - have access to the beans roasted "in-house", and turn them into great coffee. Sure, the cooking could be better, but the staff runs the place well and will make you forget any minor flaws. Awesome outdoor seats in the summer, and no reservations for the weekends, so plan accordingly.
EMA Espresso Bar
EMA Espresso Bar remains one of the few coffee shops in Prague that makes money making coffee alone. And after a 15-minute wait in the line during their rush hour, you'll understand why. Yes, this is a very popular espresso bar, and espresso bar it is. Famously, EMA is Prague's only specialty coffee place without wifi, and serves no hot meals. This does not stop Prague's youth and suits from the neighbouring offices from hopping in for coffee and a quick snack. Which means getting a seat can be a challenge. But the coffee's worth it: usually Munich-based JB Kaffe or another European roaster for both espresso and filter coffee.
Some cafes open and struggle to find an audience. Kavarna Misto opened, became crowded in about an hour, and the people never left. Doubleshot knows how to design and run a cafe, and Misto shows. Think of it as Muj salek kavy, but with more kitchen space and a bigger bar. The open yet segmented space pulls of the trick of being communal and private at the same time. That's why it is an all-rounder great for both reunions and work. Again, we wish the kitchen's seasonal menus would get progressively better, but we still keep coming back.
A Saturday-only affair, Brewbar, a stand at the Naplavka Saturday farmers market, is a window to the world of specialty coffee, with a slight focus on the North. Jirka and Radek, both Czech Aeropress champions at one time, serve the best and most interesting roasts they can find to a loyal fan base, so expect a line and lots of friendly chatting. No espressos. No food. Just great filter coffee and perhaps a seasonal boozy drink that incorporates coffee.
Prague cafes for your multi-day Prague trip
A tiny espresso bar in the Karlin district is run by Adam and Zdenek, two pioneers of the Prague specialty coffee scene. (Remember Zuzi's workshop mentioned above? It was presented by Zdenek.) Kafe Karlin serves its own roasts for both espresso and its "quick batch brew" in case you need to catch the tram. Not on your way? Visit some of Prague's farmers markets and look for the "Kavovy klub" stand. It's the same people, just like "Kafe Kolej", a tiny takeaway coffee window by the Smichovske nadrazi railway station.
The ying to EMA Espresso Bar's yang, Café Lounge is a workhorse that opens early and stays late, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and still is one of the best places for coffee on the Castle side. The faux-First Republic decor runs against the hipster canon around. Gripes? Consistency. Walk in on two occasions, and you may get two completely different cups of coffee from two different shifts. Still, this is a comfortable place to stay for a while, plan the rest of your day, and have some great coffee along the way.
A tiny neighborhood cafe may be below the radar but come to think of it, Kafemat's output has been incredibly consistent over the years. We can't remember a bad cup of coffee from Kafemat. Perhaps it's due to the low fluctuation of workforce, coffee or equipment. Kafemat has its coffee under control.
Super Tramp Coffee
Super Tramp Coffee is that kind of place that you will be recommending as "your secret tip" in Prague for years. A tiny place in a hidden courtyard of a decommissioned printing house, this one is hard to find. And that's the beauty of it. Good coffee by the Hungarian-based Casino Mocca is paired with nice buns and sweets baked in house. Add specialty tea and natural wines on the menu, and you've got a winner for long, lazy afternoons al fresco far from the madding crowds. No wifi. Good riddance.
Sure, Eska may be a cool restaurant that has just received the Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin guide, but it's also Ambiente group's first foray into specialty coffee. The coffee is sourced mostly from the Liberec-based Nordbeans (alternating with Double B or Doubleshot), and the machine is the competition-grade Black Eagle by Victoria Arduino. Where Eska excels, compared to other cafes, is the sheer scale and assortment of baking and cooking that goes on in there. If you want coffee and cake, this is the place to go. After all, this is a restaurant, bakery and coffee shop in one, set in a repurposed factory hall.
Cafe Jen may be known for its breakfasts, friendly atmosphere or, at the time we write this, their all-female staff. (#futureofcoffeeisfemale, anyone?) But this should not distract the attention from coffee, because they do very well on that front, too. Opting mostly for Hasbean coffee roasts, this place has been the secret darling of many of Prague's best baristas.
coffee room has become somewhat of a staple on the Prague coffee scene thanks to the hard work of its friendly owner and a very strong following by the young types that tend to have an Instagram account with a following. The room is small but cute and the coffee nicely compliments a surprisingly large assortment of bites to eat. Two tables outside in the summer. A great basecamp for your exploration of the Vinohrady district.
Prague Coffee Neighborhood Guides
The "historical centre"
It is surprising that the "historical centre" does not have more specialty coffee places. The only place in the Old Town that comes to mind, in addition to onesip coffee, is Tricafe just off the madness of the Karlova street that leads to the Charles Bridge. Not that far away is Original Coffee, the specialty coffee offshoot of the very popular mamacoffee coffee shops chain in the Betlemske namesti square area. We go there for good coffee, quiet and work.
Walking down the river into the southern parts of the New Town, you will stumble on I Need Coffee! A beautifully simple and modern room, INC offers good coffee and some nice designer souvenirs to buy from young, local designers. And they have small bites, too. Finally, Kavarna Cekarna underneath the Vysehrad fortress is a small refuge if you need a lot of work to be done and have nice coffee with that. Check out their backyard seating in the summer.
Two more places are worth a mention: the newly opened and very floral (you'll see) Urban Cafe is run by the super nice Jakub who used to work in the nearby EMA Espresso Bar. And finally, Kavárna Nový svet gets extra points for its beautiful setting - it is located in the beautiful New World area, which makes it a great place to pop in during your explorations of the Prague Castle.
Letna and Holesovice districts
Vritually a no-go zone for a coffee lover just four years ago, the beautiful Letna district has gone a long way. Ye's Kafe/Studio is a cool, small hipster cafe that draws in young crowds. Cafe Letka behind the National Technical Museum has a beautiful interior and good coffee. And also insane hours - you can get late-night coffee here until midnight.
Bar Cobra on Milady Horakove is an all-rounder that wants to be a bistro during the day and a bar at night, but they also serve surprisingly decent coffee. Milady Horakove has also seen the opening of a new cafe by the Dos Mundos roasters, and the Solista espresso bar. And we're yet to see what comes out of the Fun Lab that is, at least for now, only a lab for the guys behind the specialty coffee concentrate made for the home.
The Holesovice district has four coffee shops worth mentioning: Vnitroblock is clearly an awe-inspiring place that inhabits a former factory and includes a design shop and other things. (For some more of the same, head over to the Andel area and visit Kavarna co hleda jmeno.) Alza cafe is where Doubleshot roasters send their baristas for training, because nobody serves as much coffee as these guys. Sure, drinking coffee in the pick-up hall of Prague's biggest electronics reseller may be a bit strange but the coffee is good.
Bitcoin Coffee is so easy to write about: they sell coffee for Bitcoins! But the cafe of the "Paralelni Polis crypto-anarchy institute" has a Synesso machine and an interesting interior. Finally, Barry Higgel's coffeehouse serves very carefully selected coffee roasts in a very small but very cute coffee shop right next to Vnitroblock.
So many new coffee shops were popping up in the Vinohrady district at one point that it seemed opening one was a part of a rite of passage for a Prague hipster. You know, along with skinny jeans, Botas 66 sneakers and a fixie bike. Still, a few are worth a visit.
Starting from the IP Pavlova stop, Kavarna Prazirna is a staple with a very loyal following. They offer their own roasts in a nice cellar space to their fan base of steady regulars. Double B Coffee and Tea tries to pull of the uneasy task of serving great coffee (of their own roasting) and tea. And while you're there, you can pop in to the Praktika bakery. Sure. It's not a true coffee shop but they do serve specialty coffee, and it ain't half bad.
Dos Mundos is a showroom of a roasting company that also serves coffee on the spot. This is probably a great way to taste through the roaster's portfolio, but as a cafe, it lacks a bit of atmosphere. Want atmosphere? Want to see the first specialty coffee spot in Prague that started it all? Head over to Al Cafetero and say hi to Karel, the quirky owner who will NOT let you put sugar in your coffee without giving you some attitude.
Working your way up the hill, Cafefin is a brand new coffee shop owned by the family behind Pho Vietnam. In addition to specialty coffee, you can get a banh mi baguette, mango salad, or durian yoghurt, which isn't as bad as you might think. A cute little place with lots of potential. Monolok is a great place for work and a cup of coffee - it is airy and the distribution of chairs is generous.
La Boheme cafe wins points for interiors - heck, it occupies the space left behind a designer furniture store, and it seems they have kept all the furnishings. This is the only place in Prague to enjoy coffee in a sofa, Friends-style. And it also is a showroom of a big name on the Czech coffee-roasting scene, La Boheme. Talking about showrooms of roasters, to tick all of them, visit Coffee Source (labelled as "Coffee House"), which has a beautiful backdoor seating in the summer. If we ever killed anyone, that's where we'd hide. (But if you see us there, it doesn't mean we've killed anyone, okay?)