Antwerp's Best Coffee Shops

Coffee culture in Antwerp is a growing and very recent phenomenon, with new shops and microroasteries seemingly cropping up daily. Cafés are as likely to be secreted away in soaring architectural landmarks as they are on high streets, which makes finding a new one all the more exciting. Caffenation (Mechelsesteenweg 16; 03–689–7013) is the daddy on the scene; its owner has been masterminding his own imaginative roasted blends since 2003, and now supplies coffee to half the cafés in the city and exports to Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, and beyond. Inside, this split-level shop is packed with tourists and scenesters alike; it's a bit cluttered, but the coffee is excellent—and the cookies aren't bad either. Another microroastery with a growing reputation is the hipster Normo Coffee (Minderbroedersrui 30; 0495/657–243). This corner café is all industrial brick and tiles, staff concoct their blends in plain view (their bustle is infectious); and decent pastries can also be had if you come early. And lastly, CoffeeLabs (Lange Klarenstraat 19; 0476/334–587) is a culinary spin-off from IdeaLabs, which was set up to help entrepreneurs in Antwerp. Consequently, it's usually packed with laptop warriors munching on home-baked tarts and quiches. Its prize asset is its rooftop garden, which is great in summer, and the coffee is naturally first rate.

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