At the northern tip of the Baltic states is where you’ll find Tallinn, the capital and largest city of Estonia. Specialty coffee in Tallinn has been slowly developing over the last few years. With the increasing number of visitors from cruise ships and Scandinavian neighbours merely a 2-hour ferry ride away, we don’t doubt that Tallinn will see a spike in cafe openings to accommodate the caffeine-addicted.
The best cafes in Tallinn, particularly the independent ones, dominate the specialty coffee scene across the city. Many coffee shops are beginning to open as demand continues to grow. With neighbouring Finland the world leaders in coffee consumption per capita, it won’t be long before Estonia bridges the gap. Here are our five recommendations for specialty coffee in Tallinn.
THE BEST CAFES FOR COFFEE IN TALLINN
When you walk inside the Living Room Cafe, it literally feels like you’ve stepped into a friend’s living room. The basement space is carpeted, complete with TVs, worn-in couches and low wooden tables. Hessain sacks from coffee farms around the globe drape artfully from the ceiling.
Once inside, the friendly barista team makes you feel even more at home. The beans rotate regularly with the cafe featuring beans from five regions of the world on a monthly basis. When you see the coffee menu, you’ll know for sure that the knowledgeable staff are serious about craft specialty coffee. Brewing methods include French Press, Aeropress, Kalita Wave, Clever Dripper, Chemex, Hario V60 and Silverton. We narrowed our choice down to beans from the landlocked African country, Burundi. Brewed on Aeropress, we were delighted to discover the sweeter notes it left on our taste buds.
If you want to bunker down on one of their couches for a couple of hours, the Living Room Cafe offers an all day breakfast menu as well as snacks such as steak fries, nachos and quesadillas. You might need to fight for the remote control.
“Great coffee is not a secret shared only among the café folk. It should be a common knowledge.”
One of Tallinn’s (and possibly Estonia’s) leading coffee roasters, Kokomo Coffee Roasters has grown in leaps and bounds since its first retail outlet in 2013. What started as a pop-up cafes running cuppings and training sessions has now evolved into a fully fledged cafe and roastery. The micro-roastery runs in conjunction with fine dining restaurant Sfäär Resto in the Rotermann Quarter. The cafe’s elegant tables and large leather couches add a touch of class to your premium coffee experience in Tallinn.
Kokomo’s coffee beans are sourced responsible from places including Brazil, El Salvador and Ethiopia. Brewing methods include firm favourites Chemex, V60 and Aeropress. The company’s mission is to develop the coffee culture throughout Estonia. The calibre of its roasts has been highly regarded with Kokomo now supplying beans to several cafes across Tallinn. The cute postage stamp designs on their sleek black packaging has made Kokomo a recognised coffee brand around the city.
The day that we visited was a quiet one. Unfortunately the micro-roastery was not operating and we watched waiters prepare the tables for the evening’s dinner reservations. For any coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs who swing by, you may catch budding baristas in training. For those who are serious about their cup at home, check out Kokomo’s website for tips and tricks for better coffee.
T35 Bakery & Specialty Coffee is the perfect neighbourhood cafe. It reminds us of an establishment that we would seek out on a weekend morning. Situated at Tööstuse 35 (“T35”), the basement cafe is a few blocks from Tallin’s Old Town. Step down from street level into an airy room with a grey palette. White plates with black & red artistic swirls hang on the back wall above a long, charcoal couch. Peeking through the windows out to the street, you’ll notice cityscape etchings on the glass.
T35 stocks two European coffee roasters; FriedHats and Lot Sixty One, both who hail from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. When we noticed the Lot Sixty One logo at the counter, we knew we’d be in safe hands. When we tell the barista that we previously lived in Amsterdam, he speaks enthusiastically about the Dutch roasters, informing us that the cafe rotates the beans between these two suppliers every three months to maintain freshness. All espresso coffees are served with a double shot while filter brew methods include V60 and Aeropress.
We selected an all-time favourite (flat white) and were super happy to taste the caramel undertones. If you have the time to sit for a while, the 0.6L Chemex is the perfect selection for a couple to share. Their specialty coffee is complemented by an all day breakfast menu consisting of an American fry up, freshly baked pastries or their specialty, the “Dutch Baby” pancake.
As soon as you step into RØST Bakery, you know you’ve stepped into a corner of quintessential Scandinavia. The small eatery sits in central Tallinn in the renovated Nisuveski building. Every day, bakers prepare sourdough breads, scrumptious cookies, gourmet sandwiches and the finger-licking, delightful cinnamon scrolls. The open kitchen design throws a warm light across the cafe, allowing diners to see (and smell!) all the freshly baked goodies being prepared during the early morning.
Alongside all the gluten goodness, RØST sources its coffee beans from some of the best micro-roasters including Drop Coffee from Stockholm and its very own The Brick Coffee Roastery based in Estonia. When we visited on a brisk morning, we chose to sit inside, sipping our flat whites and nibbling our cinnamon buns. You’ll find a mix of textures in the decor with one wall covered in white bathroom tiles, one wall covered in sleek wooden panels and another with exposed red brick. High bench seating allows you to peek out on the laneway.
It’s difficult to leave the warmth of the cafe so don’t feel bad if you nab a few more cinnamon scrolls for an afternoon snack later on!
This small corner cafe cum bar is conveniently located in Tallinn’s Old Town. It’s a fun colourful space with peppermint tiles on the bar and camel, cushioned bar stools. Funky printed cushions sit underneath bright lanterns and retro chairs add a quirky splash to each corner. Kohvik August also supports local creatives with several art pieces available for sale on the wall.
Coffee beans are supplied by local roastery, Kokomo Coffee Roasters. The coffee menu features your usual espresso favourites as well as Chemex and V60 filter options. Should you visit during summer, you can also switched to iced (jää) coffee. A small food menu is available if you’re feeling peckish.
If you miss the cafe experience during the day, don’t despair. In the evenings, Kohvik August turns into a bar where we’re sure the glitter ball is put to good use. A generous range of spirits and liqueurs sits behind the counter and we have no doubt that the weekends would see parties spill out onto the cobbled lanes.
Have you found the best coffee in Tallinn? Let us know in the comments below!