Last weekend I was on my way to Trakteren Koffie in Amsterdam ‘Oud-West’. Amsterdam has lots of coffee-hotspots, but I do not visit the city I was born in too often. Since I was visiting a burger-festival later that evening, I had time to visit just one spot. After a tip from a friend, my goal was set towards Trakteren Koffie. It turned out to be fun, interesting and delicious!
Trakteren Koffie: A brief recap.
Trakteren was founded over six years ago by Edward Beumer en Erik Oosterhuis. After spending years in sales and banking, the two of them decided to start something new and become their own boss. That something turned out to be coffee, and boy are we glad it did! After a period of preparation and learning they opened Trakteren Koffie in 2010 in ‘Oud-West’, the old western part of Amsterdam. Slowly they became more popular to the point where they are now. Well, I think that’s it for the recap? Or wait, did I mention that these guys started from scratch and managed to come in 4th, 3rd AND become Dutch Aeropress Champion in The Netherlands? That Edward was a participant in the Aeropress World Cup finals in Dublin? Or that their shop is considered among the top coffee-hotspots in the Netherlands? oh, I guess I forgot to mention that.
Trakteren Koffie: Capturing the essence of a city.
Some coffee-hotspots have everything going for them. They are located in a city centre, at one of the most famous streets of even next to a city highlight. Trakteren Koffie has none of that. They aren’t located in a rich area, don’t have a ‘Rijksmuseum’ next door and also don’t have a flashy neon sign that screams ‘welcome’ hanging outside. Still Trakteren Koffie has managed to do something that not much others have managed. Not only do they serve quality coffee, they also managed to capture the vibe of a city. In this case it’s the typically ‘Amsterdam’ vibe.
When you step in Trakteren Koffie everybody is equal and you feel that everybody is welcome to come in for a drink. Edward and Erik have a great sense of humour, the kind you can only find in Amsterdam: witty, quick and straight up to the point. You can see it in the way the regular customers and the owners treat each other. It’s open en friendly and there’s always time for a little jest, joke or a good conversation. Like everybody else who grew up in Amsterdam, that vibe makes you feel at home instantly, no matter where you are. And it is exactly that, that came to mind when I entered Trakteren Koffie: this place has the vibe that is getting pretty rare in Amsterdam nowadays. I love it!
Trakteren Koffie: Same coffee served a bit differently.
When it comes to coffee, Trakteren Koffie is not your run-of-the-mill kind of place. Erik told me that they sometimes love to put people on the wrong foot when it comes to coffee. Just like they did with me. When I ordered an Aeropress coffee, Edward made me a 40 grams Aeropress brew just like the one during the Dutch Championships. He then told me to blind-taste it. When I asked them if it was a Guatemalan bean, he grinned and put a Yirgacheffe-package on the counter-top. Erik: “We like to give people something special when they order a coffee. So sometimes we try to put them on the wrong foot by tweaking our coffee just a bit. Give them something unexpected. The look on their faces when they hear what we did, that’s pure gold. Just like what we did with you. A 40 grams Yirgacheffe Aeropress brew tastes vastly different from a 15 grams Hario V60 brew.”
Even though they pulled one on me, I could definitely appreciate the approach. Here I was thinking I would recognize a Yirgacheffe coffee any time any where, and ended up discovering a whole new side of the Yirgacheffe coffee.
Trakteren Koffie: all for coffee, and coffee for all.
Aside from the humour, the vibe and the quality of their coffee, one more thing stands out: the costs of a cup of coffee. When you compare their prizes to that of other coffee-hotspots you will notice that Trakteren Koffie holds very reasonable prizes for the quality of coffee they serve. “When we opened this place we wanted the people to get to know coffee. You cannot do that if you are asking four to five euros for an espresso.” Erik and Edward say. “When looking at the neighbourhood you need to take into account that this is not a part where a lot of tourists come, or where the rich and famous live. So we strive to serve the coffee that belongs to the top in Amsterdam, but not the top in the world. The coffee needs to be of high quality, but still affordable to the people who live here. We could serve Gesha coffee or Blue Mountain, but we wouldn’t be able to sell all of it within a reasonable time.”
Trakteren Koffie: Turning tea lovers into coffee drinkers.
It was almost time for me to go, but I had that one cheesy question for Erik. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The answer was maybe the best one I have heard in a long time. “I don’t know. Here?” Erik laughs. “I love doing what I do and our challenge is of course to do even better in the future. What still gives me a thrill, however, is getting someone who drinks tea, to get to like coffee for example. Or making a latte-lover to get to like an espresso just as much. It’s my passion for coffee and little things like that, that make me love this job most in the world. So I don’t know where we are in 5 years, but the most important thing is that we are still enjoying ourselves then.”
Normally I close off with a catchy punchline or a way to bring across the message I wanted to point out, but with Trakteren this is different. You’ll have to visit this place to feel what I felt when being there.
J.P. Heijestraat 119a