Forget the grand coffee houses so prevalent in Budapest during the Austro Hungarian Empire. Traditional cafés like the New York Café and Café Gerbeaud) are packed with tourists these days and lost much of their native spirit. The city's coffee culture has shifted to craft coffeeshops and bars, these are the places where locals can be observed lingering with their laptops. Budapest's coffee scene today resembles the hip Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, with buzzwords like V60, Aeropress, and cold brew, and the obligatory tattooed-and-bearded baristas.
Some pockets of Buda are similarly lively as Pest, but they are few and far between. The area around Bartók Béla Way is one such revitalized neighborhood, featuring a concentration of art galleries, cafés, and bars. Kelet Café, an all-purpose café, is one of the reasons that new life is breathing into the street. The Middle Eastern-infused food selections alone may not be worth the trip from the other side of the Danube, but Kelet’s claim to fame is their coffee, which comes from Colombia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, and is served in espresso-based, filter, and Turkish coffee forms.Read more
If Kontakt resembles a Brooklyn café, then Espresso Embassy embodies the fantasy of new Williamsburg itself: specialty filter (V60) coffee, fancy brewing equipment, cakes made of things you've never heard of, exposed brick interior, attractive Millennials typing away on their Macs, and fixies parked outside. The vaulted ceiling of this neoclassical building (marked by the landmark protection plaque on the facade) combined with a well-invested minimalist interior is a thoughtful blend of old and new. The core clientele consists of bankers from the nearby financial district and grad students from Central European University, just a few steps away..Read more
The location itself is worth the visit to this café, nestled inside the charming cobble-stoned inner courtyard of a huge pre-war building. All this in the heart of downtown. The interior of Kontakt could easily be mistaken for a Brooklyn café, with new-wave specialty coffee, heavily bearded staff, and people busy typing away on their smartphones. Putting their money where their mouth is, Kontakt's policy is not to add any sugar to the coffee (and no milk to drip coffee) so that the rich coffee flavors can properly manifest themselves.Read more
Never mind the uncanny resemblance to Blue Bottle Coffee (a pioneering California-based specialty coffee company), Blue Bird is one of Hungary’s top coffee roasters. They sell 11 types of premium Arabica sourced from nine countries, in both ready-to-drink and packaged form, out of an impossibly cool storefront in the heart of the Jewish Quarter. The tiny, multipurpose space serves as their roasting, storage, and coffee making facility, all in one. Blue Bird’s filter coffee (includes everything from V60 to Chemex, Aeropress, Frenchpress, Siphon, and cold brew options) is on par with the best specialty coffees in New York or San Francisco.Read more
Opened in 2012, My Little Melbourne was one of the first cafés to bring A+ quality specialty coffee to Budapest, resulting in a cult following that still continues to surround them. Leveraging the rightful success, they recently opened a brew bar next door focusing on filter coffee (V60, Aeropress, French press, cold brew), while the original premise continues to serve espresso based drinks (cappuccino, latte, Americano, etc.). My Little Melbourne is located in the heart of District 7 (Jewish Quarter), and given the location and the café's seemingly unstoppable popularity, the somewhat inflated prices make sense. For most foreigners they will still feel like a bargain.Read more
Even if you're very particular about your coffee, this place is unlikely to disappoint. Besides the specialty coffee (espresso-based, V60, AeroPress, cold brew) there're other things too to like about Madal, including a friendly staff, a sleek wood-paneled interior, outdoor seating, neatly designed serving trays, free wifi, and the location, which is easily accessible from almost everywhere in the city center. If you get there early enough, a selection of flaky (whole wheat) croissants can accompany your morning coffee. The company operates 2 other locations in Budapest, including a significantly larger space near the Parliament building.Read more
Escape the noisy downtown street and enter through the graceful yellow ceramic tiles to the tranquil courtyard of this 19th century building. The stately pre-war marble well in the middle of the courtyard is one of those turn-of-the-century Budapest surprises behind many sooty facades, and the place for a morning coffee in good weather months. Inside you'll find a friendly service staff, designer products, an amalgamation of rustic/minimalist/industrial interior, and specialty coffee (espresso-based and hand pour overs). Additional good news is that Fekete serves outstanding breakfasts (the croque-monsieur/madame is unlikely to disappoint), and they are open on Sundays too..Read more
It’s not easy to find specialty coffee places on the Buda side, so when Barako, a closet-sized café, opened in 2014, it filled a void in Buda’s barely-existent craft coffee scene. The Filipino owner, Ryan Andres, intentionally eschewed the tourist-centric commercial areas of downtown Pest and set up shop here instead. He imports the Barako coffee beans (a variation of the Liberica species) from land he cultivates in the Philippines. One of Barako’s specialties is siphon coffee, which involves an elaborate preparation process reminiscent of a high school chemistry class experiment.Read more
Printa was one of the first stores in Budapest that figured out that selling high-quality coffee alongside Hungarian designer products can be a winning combination. Think limited edition prints, clothes, bags, and purses designed by the cream of the crop in Budapest - no tchotchkes here. Being good at what they do, and being located in the center of it all, it's inevitable that they now mainly cater to tourists with somewhat inflated price tags. Nevertheless, there's plenty of cool stuff and great coffee of course.Read more
What's this stylish café full of foreign students doing in the sleepy outer part of District 7 inhabited mostly by working class locals? This question will occupy your mind as soon as you step into The Goat Herder. The answer literally lies across the street in the form of the 19th century stately buildings of The University of Veterinary Medicine, where most students come from Western Europe. The owner of this espresso bar not only presciently recognized this gaping market opportunity but also ensured that foreign students would be served premium (espresso-based) coffee. Besides coffee and free wifi, they have pastries, snacks, salads, and fresh fruit juices all day (but no egg-based or other cooked breakfast food).Read more
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price.