Budapest's coffee culture evolves
June 5th, 2014
11:00 AM ET
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"What kind of coffee do you have?"

"Well, black, or with milk," comes the grumpy reply.

This is the delightfully retro Bambi bar, where the interior and the grumpiness of the service haven't changed for 50 years. Nor has the coffee - a drink that's always played a central role in Budapest life. Through the communist years those shots of dark, bitter coffee in small glasses, served by scowling waitresses, were a staple start to the day.

While coffee's importance hasn't changed, a new wave of coffee bars - where competitive baristas know their ristretto from their cortado - is shaking up the scene. The buzz word is "kezmuves" - it roughly translates as handmade, or craft. There are three keys to the new craft coffee bars - talented staff (with the certificates to prove it), slick design and carefully chosen ingredients.

The coffee is sometimes described locally as "third wave," meaning it's fairly sourced and roasted on a smaller scale, giving it a lighter, less bitter taste than Italian beans.

"In new wave coffee you discover the real qualities of the coffee beans, like the fruity, citric qualities of African beans or the chocolate of Brazilian beans," says Peter Repka, manager of the Madal craft coffee bar.

Despite the interest in new wave, both old- and new-style coffee houses compete to deliver Budapest its caffeine kicks.

CNN Travel's Destination Hungary has some of the best. See the full list.

Previously:
5 hottest new coffee spots in the U.S.

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Filed under: Coffee • Travel


soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. AleeD®

    I see an interesting side to the editors when a Budapest coffee post is followed by a donut day post. How very paring of you.

    June 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  2. Thinking things through

    Would a place named Bambi Bar serve venison jerky?

    When the Budapest coffee culture finishes evolving, will it resemble the Coffee klatsch here on CNN?

    June 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Reply

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