What if there was a cafe where you might as well perch on a bar stool to bring down a naked two-shot espresso expertly pulled on a Kees van der Westen The mind lays down beside a low table to take breakfast all day and sip the sweet yield of a AeroPress, a Chemex, or one V60? A cafe where you can just as easily order a DIY Common California brewed more than 5,000 miles from its origins in Golden State as nursing a fresh ginger orange tea while being stuck on your laptop, which doesn’t need to be set on your knees, but rather on a clean, well-lit hardtop? A cafe where you could have a chicory and blue salad or a sourdough pastrami for lunch? A cafe where you can enjoy a slow roasted lamb or beef Where hamburger with tempeh? A cafe, perhaps, where you could dessert on spicy chocolate quesadillas or a passion fruit meringue pie? A cafe where, at any time between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., you could soak up the juice of a young fresh coconut, holding the whole fruit in both hands and, if you wish, garnished with a shot of rum? A cafe where you could, for God’s sake, make a reservation or take it all out?
Hello, astronomer, come back to earth. A place in Amsterdam awaits you.
Enter the prismatic paradise that is CT Coffee & Coconut. The whitewashed walls serenely rub shoulders with the red brick industry and exposed pipes. Everywhere you look, there are funky layouts of light wood furniture, soft linen cushions, and healthy plants. The high ceiling, to which three sets of stairs ascend, imbues the visitor with aspiration and hope. In fact, if Heaven were a flat, white cabin, this is what it would look like.
This Coffee & Coconuts opened a year ago in the De Pijp district was, like countless other Amsterdam events, a happy coincidence on two wheels. As chef Ruerd Akersloot and his business partner, Jasper van het Nederend, got ready to sell their restaurant in Zandvoort and create something new, a colleague cycled past an unmistakably Art Deco facade. All in stacked geometry resembling a sandcastle and frosted glass lamps, the building, from the 1920s, was once a theater. During this fateful bike ride, the colleague noticed that it was for rent. The cyclist was Bas Beijer, founder and former owner of the Hutspot cafe, a two-minute walk away.
In no time, the three have become tenants of the old theater, united as partners in pursuing what Akersloot says is meant to be “just a coffee, just a specialty coffee, that’s it.” Months of renovations followed, discussions with the city about permitted structural changes to an officially registered historic building, and a series of “Oh, why not? In response to their own increasingly elaborate visions of the future Valhalla.
Today, the capacity is 310. An anomaly for this part of the city, this whole space spans several levels, each of which, Akersloot observed, has an ecology. Inspired perhaps by the portrait of John Lennon hanging above, the loft tends to be a relaxed “mix” of people and purposes. The balcony is conducive to work, although it is not uncommon for day laborers to migrate to the mezzanine for a glass of wine and rest there, on a sofa or at one of the hanging tables, co-created with Sukha designers. The mezzanine also houses an espresso bar, smaller than the one on the ground floor in terms of worktop, but identical in terms of equipment: a Kees van der Westen Spirit for three and a duo of Mazzer crushers. The entry level draws in the faster crowd, inclined to “grab a coffee, maybe a sandwich, sit at the bar”.
Akersloot admits, however, that welcoming a diverse clientele is not always easy.
“We receive everything from grandmothers to tourists [plus] lots of locals, and they all mingle. But it’s also hard to really focus on your specialty coffee, ”he says. “You have people at the bar who are passionate about coffee, but we also have people who have no idea, they just want a coffee.”
If activity is any indication, the cafe balances the range of customers well, serving a house-roasted espresso just for them by Bocca and a rotation of specialty micro-roasts by White Label Coffee. In total, Coffee & Coconuts estimates that it sells 60 kilos of espresso drinks per week. This translates to comparable weekly coconut sales, ranging from 400 to 600.
In a teal and coral palette, the menu illustrations express the sensibility of Pacific surfing and Harry Nilsson’s lyrics are written here and there. It almost sounds too fancy. But ordering it – seven days a week, 16 hours a day (or 15 on weekends) – makes for some great, healthy coffee dishes, largely organic and locally sourced.
And speaking of local, the neighborhood seems satisfied with Coffee & Coconuts, despite the proliferation of nearby, independent and chain cafes. A particularly warm welcome came from an unexpected demographic: “the older people – by ‘older’ I mean 80 – who grew up here and still know this place like a theater and have said: over there” , Akersloot explains.
“They come in and they drink a glass of water, it’s not the generation that spends money on horeca– but it’s okay, ”he continues. “You will see an elder and they look at you, and [you know] it’s probably someone from around, or they’ve moved far and their sons and daughters are bringing them here. It is special.
Coffee & Coconuts – its heavenly surroundings, the wide range of places to get comfortable, a wide and cheerful appealing menu – may seem like a fantasy. But it’s not. It’s a reality waiting to make all your coffee (and coconut) dreams come true.
Karina Hof is an Amsterdam-based Sprudge writer. Read more Karina Hof on Sprudge.