Growing up outside of Seattle, I developed a refined coffee palette. At least that’s how I prefer to describe my nearly out-of-control crazed caffeine addiction. Let me set the scene: The wafting scent of properly brewed java catches my attention, snatching me right out of reality. I begin to mindlessly wander until I’m standing in front of a cafe peering through the window, palms and nose firmly pressed against the glass. “Me want coffee” is all I manage. It isn’t until I wrap my hands around the mug, the first sip hitting my taste buds, warming my core, and perking my senses, that I’m able to properly function once again.
Because of this obsession, my travels to a new city often morph into exploring its streets and monuments via the hunt for the perfect cup. In my book, a day full of sightseeing pairs exceptionally with a few breaks sipping an espresso, taking in the hustle and bustle, and refueling from the sidelines. Luckily for me, the craft of a delectable brew has swept the world, and you can find some serious gems in even the tiniest corners of the globe, Budapest being no exception. Whether you crave espresso swirled in velvety foamed milk or the perfect filtered demitasse, there are several options where the art of coffee has become a labor of love.
1 | Ruszwurm Cukrászda: As one of the oldest cafes in the city, nestled within the castle walls and featuring seriously delicious cakes (tip: try the cream cake), it’s worth a visit for both an afternoon pick-me-up and a bit of history.
2 | Espresso Embassy: This place bustles with expats, tourists, and locals alike, all craving the same thing: excellent coffee and tasty pastries.
3 | Csészényi Kávézó: This hidden gem is tucked away in the quieter Buda side, making it a perfect spot for a little rest and relaxation. Bonus: they roast their own beans while serving every imaginable concoction, including a revolving list of seasonal specialities.
4 | Madal Cafe: If you can dream up perfection, you’d dream of Madal. The baristas here serve a mean espresso with a side of zen, which is all you really need during a coffee break.
5 | “The Bambi“: It may officially be called Bambi Eszpresszó, but any local knows it simply as “The Bambi” because of its legendary status. Perhaps it doesn’t serve the best coffee, but you get to step back into the 60’s cuz this place survived communism and not a thing has changed.
6 | Két Szerecsen: Pair your coffee with a meal here (brunch is recommended), and enjoy the art nouveau vibe while dining in plush, turquoise booths.
7 | Tamp and Pull: You can’t go wrong here, polled as the true coffee experts by any local aficionado.
8 | My Little Melbourne: This place will make any coffee nut happy with its perfection and variety. Order an espresso on the left, or check out the very hip brew bar for a filtered coffee on the right.
9 | Kontakt: This place is no fuss and has taken a stand for coffee in its purest form (not a granule of sugar exists here, so don’t ask). If you can brave the slight narcissism, it’s worth it. Plus, they serve cold brew on nitro. Say whaaaaat?!
Honorable Mention: For me personally, a new, delicious find is Apricot Coffee, tucked into the architecturally rich Palace District behind the Hungarian National Museum. The owner seems to always be there, steaming, brewing, and chatting. I’ve never met anyone who loves coffee more, which shows in the quality and presentation of his craft!