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One way to really get to know cities is to drink their best shot of coffee, taste their freshest bread and indulge in their sweetest cake.
A place that everybody loves (and dies for) is Herr Max – conveniently located right in the middle of the Schanzenviertel. The room is a treat in itself; It is an old Milk shop from 1905, still in rather good shape. But you will not have time to examine those old tiles, because the cake awaits you in the display. It’s an assortment of colours, flavours, and options which are all handmade, of course. Just take a look at the sweet staff behind the counter and you know they bake with lots of love (and sugar). A good thing that the coffee is also world-class, so you can just stay here if you find a spot. The atmosphere is vibrant and the buzzy “Schanzen crowd” is nice and relaxed. This place is open until the evening and the vibe gets better with every hour. Better get some of them cakes for “the go”!
If you are exploring the wonderful Ottensen neighbourhood, this is a nice place to recharge your batteries (with sugar!). Some say Liebes Bisschen is worth the trip all on its own. It is a cake manufacturer and a café in one. The friendly confectioners bake delicious cakes and delicious cupcakes fresh every day. The icing on the cake is that many of the cakes, pies, muffins and cookies are vegan! For example, there is a sensational Zucchini walnut cake, which is a local favourite. But really, everything is super juicy and delicious. And the décor is special but sweet. To top it off, you will get the coffee from the good people of Playground Coffee, a local roasting plant with an affection for darkness.
If you would rather go the unhealthy sugary way of patisseries, you may find Mamalicious your favourite place. The vibe of this neatly decorated spot has a certain reminiscence of a fifties diner in your “Happy Days” dream. You will find wonderful cakes (the best cheesecake in Europe, some say) and cupcakes galore. But the real stunner in this establishment is the American-style breakfast: It is so good that they serve it all day. Needless to say, there are sensational pancakes on the menu which could be the perfect starting point if you plan to spend half a day in the Schanzenviertel or St. Pauli.
When it comes to coffee, it would be a sacrilege to not put the Elbgold first and foremost. It is like the A-List of coffee in this town. They are the first wave of a new coffee roasting and brewing in Hamburg. Their roasts are special and appreciated by many. If you see a middle-aged art director carrying a small brown sack like it was a pirate’s treasure, it is probably a bag of freshly roasted espresso beans from an exotic location! It makes for a superb souvenir. Elbgold now has a couple of stores across town, but the best is their first. Located in the wonderful complex called Schanzenhöfe, the buzzy inside space is full of roasting equipment lined up and a sunny outside area – one of the best spots in the whole city. Try the Cortado (it’s a prize-winner!).
The Less Political is somewhat of a minimalistic sensation. This relatively new coffee bar is probably one of the most beautiful. The setting, which can be described as an industrial chic, goes well with the on-point coffee… and the very cool folks who feel the same way but are too cool the let it show. The Less Political is supplied by Hamburg’s direct trade roaster “Quijote”. These also provide the house coffee offered. In addition, there are a number of “guest cafes”, mainly from roasters of the big B., Berlin. Apart from the very good standard coffees, there are also several hot and cold signature drinks, such as aniseed, coconut or ginger coffee. And, the location is ideal, directly between the Schanze and the Karoviertel.