BEST CAFES FOR SPECIALTY COFFEE IN VILNIUS
1. Elska Coffee
Dark wooden accents greet you as you enter this two tier cafe next to Pamėnkalnio Galerija. A neon “don’t ask why” sign sits on the back wall on a pleated patterned concrete wall. Mismatched, recycled furniture featuring squishy lounges and circular table tops are arranged to accommodate small groups and pairs as they gossip over their coffee. Specialty coffee equipment sits for sale in cabinets next to beans by Andrito Coffee Roastery (Latvia). Grab one of the coffee table tomes to peruse or perhaps the electric guitar which sits in a corner waiting for a customer to belt out a tune. During summer, take advantage of the warmer weather by choosing one of their smoothie options and sitting outside on wooden crates under the lime green umbrellas. A small array of sweets including granola is available if you’re feeling peckish. And whilst here you should also take a look at the WC – or more accurately the WC will take a look at you.
2. Brew Kavos Virėjai
Take a break off the main road and head to Brew for a coffee break. The small cafe sits under a large tree, where few tables are available for customers to sit in the shade on a sunny day. The interior features dark walls and accents of navy, khaki and black throughout the mix of couches, armchairs and wooden chairs. Lamps hang low over the tables illuminating the black IKEA-esque picture frames displaying a melange of coffee art, fashion and palm trees. Our flat white and espresso macchiato were both smooth and pleasant with no bitter aftertaste. A small selection of sandwiches is available on the front counter. Brew sell bags of their coffee beans which are roasted off-site. Cash and card accepted.
3. Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories
If you’re only interested in drinking espresso coffee, then stop reading. If your coffee taste buds are more adventurous like ours, then you MUST visit Crooked Nose & Other Coffee Stories when you visit Vilnius. We arrived 20 minutes before closing on a warm Saturday afternoon and boy, were we glad that we made it. The owner, Emanuelis, happily welcomed us in and talked to us in depth of his cafe’s brewing methods. Crooked Nose is a micro-roastery; the only place we’ve come across (to date) that grinds its coffee beans by hand. It’s slow coffee. The menu offers Aeropress, Chemex, Siphon, Nerodrip, Cascara, Cold Drip and its own invention, Bro. Familiar with Aeropress and Chemex, it was Nerodrip that caught our eye. Emanuelis explained to us that it’s a Japanese brewing method. This technique has existed in coffee houses in Japan for around 100 years. It’s the type of coffee that should be drunk slowly like a whisky, while you smoke a cigarette and read the newspaper. We selected the Guatemala beans for our Nerodrip to share and we thoroughly enjoyed the flavour and the experience.
Don’t come to Crooked Nose for a soy latte with an extra shot to go. Come here to sit and sip your coffee away from the mainstream cafes. Crooked Nose offers a small minimalist space with simple wooden furniture surrounded by green potted plants and small succulents. Coffee table tomes including Kinfolk, Gourmand and Delayed Gratification hang on the wall for sale. We’re sorry that we didn’t have more time to sample coffee from Crooked Nose’s Bro coffee maker. A true pioneer of specialty coffee, we hope that Emanuelis will receive much success from his invention. Upon our departure, we were offered local restaurant recommendations and well wishes for our remaining time in Lithuania. We left Crooked Nose not only buzzing from the caffeine but from a genuine connection with a local over a mutual passion. This is one coffee and travel experience that we will fondly remember.
Usually we avoid coffee cafe chains like the plague. Huracán Coffee was an exception. We ended up coming to one of the stores as it was open early on a Sunday morning and we needed a pit stop after shooting photos at sunrise. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Huracán Coffee is a passionate advocate for third wave coffee, just like us.
Huracán first began after a group of Lithuanian noblemen left the country and cultivated a coffee farm in El Salvador. Two hundred years later, Huracán still imports its coffee beans to Lithuania from this very farm. Being directly involved from crop to cup stages are evident, as the team serve up well balanced, in-depth coffee flavours. Specialty coffee brewing methods include Aeropress, Chemex and v60. Espresso lovers should try the Bacchi whilst those who prefer filter coffee can also sample vacuum brewing methods Clover and Cona. Take away coffee is available should you want to keep exploring Vilnius (remember to bring your Keep Cup) or sit back on worn leather couches or wooden benches as you catch up on life with the free wifi.
5. Strange Love
“We roast with knowledge,
we grind with precision,
we brew with skills.
We share our StrangeLove.”
On the edge of Bernardine Gardens, a coffee break at StrangeLove is both convenient and a good idea. The cafe operates over two levels; the upper level features a fireplace which is perfect for staying cosy in the winter time while the lower level leads to an outdoor seating area strung with fairy lights that is ideal for summer. Should the cafe become crowded, you can always head into the gardens for a bench seat in front of one of the water fountains.
StrangeLove roast their own beans on-site, the copper-coloured roasting machine visible through a glass wall at the back of the cafe. Coffee beans are sourced globally with coffee beans arriving from Ethiopia, Kenya, Costa Rica, Colombia and El Salvador. There is sure to be something for everybody with the coffee menu divided into blacks, whites and iced. For those looking for an afternoon indulgence, alcoholic beverages are an option alongside a cabinet full of mouthwatering desserts including eclairs and tiramisus.
Have you visited any cafes that we should include in this Vilnius coffee guide? Share your experience with us below!