As you may already know, I admire a lot the entrepreneurial minds that are not afraid to take risks.
Those who envision, take careful steps, watch the market, its trends, and move into action.
It is no coincidence that in the Netherlands I have met many of those people.
If you struggle with air and water from birth.
If you have thrown off the scruples and dark weights of religion, then your path is upward and brave.
I made this little preface because Rosa & Adil, the owners of The Coffee District, are the reason for me to introduce you to one (or rather two) of my favorite places to visit in Amsterdam.
The idea of The Coffee District started two years ago in one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful areas.
At Hendrik Jacobszstraat 18.
Outside of the noisy “canal horseshoe” but quite accessible from the famous Vondelpark and right next to the impressive Hitchcockian street of Lomanstraat!
The bike ride there is a delight.
You put your laptop in your bag and in a few minutes you are away from the crowds of tourists.
If the weather is nice, you take a seat on the wooden benches under the terraced plane trees.
You order a Matcha Latte made by the beautiful Haley.
The kind Australian barista will make it with so much care, step by step, and serve it with a smile that will remind you of the heroines of Downton Abbey.
But in December, you need a table inside by the windows with the perfect little garden view.
Maybe if you’re lucky you can find a seat in front of the vitrine.
Enjoy the huge latte that Barista Forrest made for you while
staring at the passers (usually wet) walk by who will surely be jealous when they see you sitting there.
The last time I was in Jacobszstraat, I met my friend Maureen Bleeker Pall.
A Dutch woman- with Surinamese roots – with whom I share my love for Amsterdam and Zurich.
We ordered a dozen of the various delicious desserts from the bar and talked about the Black Lives Matter movement and what it’s like to grow up as a black child from Latin America in a country as free as the Netherlands.
Maureen’s eyes stared at the large portrait of the hero Nelson Mandela who was watching us nailed to the back wall.
With wet eyes and coffee in her hands, she approached the portrait of the anti-apartheid revolutionary symbol.
She stood in awe and respect and whispered something to him that I could not hear.
My own eyes were now moist.
I picked up the camera and took some pictures of her.
Sometime later I learned that the portrait of the Former President of South Africa belonged to Rosa’s grandmother.
“He was her idol. It was the only thing I wanted to have when she died. If I look at the picture I think of her. This picture says so much.”
In early 2021, and while the future looked bleak, Rosa and Adil took a risk and opened their second café.
In the blue old Dutch storefront of Willemsparkweg and Alexander Boersstraat, with a panoramic view of the Stedelijk Museum, you can order your coffee (from roaster Lot Sixty One) and take a stroll through the modern art museum and its exhibitions.
If you see a queue, don’t leave to get coffee from the next … pizzeria …!
Good coffee takes time and it’s not easy to find it everywhere.
Even if you need to wait a little bit, that time is enjoyable. The guys who work there have a sense of humor and can tell you all you want to know about the blends of guest roasters, Manhattan, Friedhats, and Five Ways.
Behind the cafes I like to share with you, there are always interesting stories, people with feelings and legacies. Childhood dreams and goals waiting to be fulfilled.
Brilliant careers and recipes are written on papers that have been washed out.
Tears and joys of regulars
Brave and scared faces.
From the city of absolute freedom, I send you my love and the voice of Billie Holiday singing “Strange Fruit”.