Where to go for coffee in Budapest

Resurfacing favorites from a few years back for friends planning their visit

When friends recently mentioned they’re planning a trip to Budapest, Hungary, the approach of our babies’ bedtimes whittled the length of our discussion down to an all-too-brief chat. We only had the chance to touch on the Jewish history of the city, contemporary politics and media consolidation, and a run-through of some touristic favorites: thermal baths, good wines, ruin bars, the general beauty of the city (photographic evidence below), and, yes, coffee.

Cathlin and I haven’t been there together since January 2014, so I can only assume a great deal has continued to change over the past five years. But (surprise!) one of my favorite activities during our visit was to wake up early and walk around for miles while sampling my way through some memorable cafes throughout the city. Highlights below, but first a few photos:

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The views by boat
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And a cuddly couple on that boat
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Chilly outside, but perfect temperatures for a bath

And now for the coffee. All of these cafes appear to still be standing (and standing strong), though I’ve made note of some new spots for our next visit: 9BAR, Kontakt, Vinyl & Wood, Double Shot, and Kelet Kávézó és Galéria, whenever it is that we can get back. Until then, I’d say you shouldn’t go wrong with:

Espresso Embassy
Arany János u. 15
(Google Maps / FacebookFoursquare)

I remember the coffee selection and preparation here being exceptional and rather central, though the shop was also incredibly busy. Seemingly a prime spot for students and business meetings.

espressoembassy
A cavernous interior at Espresso Embassy

My Little Melbourne
Madách Imre út 3
(Google Maps / FacebookFoursquare)

Surprised to find such a strong touch of Australiana here, but perfectly cozy and hit the spot. My memory might fail me, but I want to say the space is reminiscent of the great Ten Belles in Paris.

mylittlemelbourne
Might My Little Melbourne have an Australian connection?

Tamp & Pull
Czuczor u. 3
(Google Maps / FacebookFoursquare)

Besides the wall art crafted from disassembled espresso machines, I recall my Red Sox hat leading to a wonderful conversation with a local expat who had grown up outside of Boston. (Now, I’m seeing this location might have since closed, or else there are now two locations.)

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Wall art at Tamp & Pull

fekete
Múzeum krt 5
(Google Maps / FacebookFoursquare)

Sat here the longest of all espresso bars, talking a while about art and literature with the barista. Looks like what once was only a tiny shop expanded into a larger space at the same location.

fekete
The former espresso bar at fekete

Madal Cafe
Hollán Ernő u. 3
(Google Maps / FacebookFoursquare)

Went here the morning before I left, so felt a bit rushed and didn’t get to appreciate the cafe as much as I’d hoped. But looks like they now have two additional locations worth comparing.

madalcafe
A corner-store kind of touch at Madal Cafe

And a shoutout to Massolit Books & Cafe (Nagy Diófa utca 30) as well. The coffee tended toward functional rather than specialty, but this outpost of the Kraków institution kept me writing comfortably for a few hours during a cold rainfall and sent me on my way with a handful of works by Hungarian poets and novelists I’d never expected to find available in translation.

massolitbudapest
A cup of tea accompanying my manuscript at Massolit

Not quite sure when Cathlin and I will be back in Budapest next, but in the meantime we welcome any tips and hope our friends report back with a few of their own discoveries.

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