And I don’t mean in a let’s-get-back-to-our-coffee-roasting-roots kind of way.
Incidentally, Ako does do good coffee. And sweetly decorated notebooks. And soft padded stationery cases. And is a mini art gallery. And co-shares the space with a record shop and two cats. And does the best interpretation of the elusive British scone that I’ve tasted in Berlin – infused with Earl Grey or plain and always served like this:
Yeah, OK, maybe a place which has 99 uses isn’t exactly what most people would call simple. But it’s the vibe that you get there – i.e., neither does the barkeeper check how neatly groomed your beard is, nor are you sneered at for speaking English. You get a smile, a bit of chit chat and a stroke of the cats (or more realistically a death glare) and you can relax. I’m not saying that it’s not embracing the ‘creative scene’. But Ako laughs at itself – how can a place where the cats act like the owners not do that? It’s not try-hard and it’s not post-try-hard like my dearly beloved Leuchtstoff – it’s do and be done with the day.
The special thing that makes Ako Ako is being personable. It doesn’t act like your new world-saving buddy whilst networking its way into a small metropolitan monopoly (which admittedly makes such good coffee… looking at you, The Barn). In fact, the first time I went into one of The Barn’s coffee outposts, Cafe Oslo – now definitely on my list of good cafes – I was intimidated by the ‘natural’ feel dropped on you like a ton of timber. Everything was done down to be done up, from the roughly hewn workshop-conference table at the back to the roughly hewn bar at the front. The shiny vintage coffee machine and brown paper bags were whispering:
“Fool, fool, you want a cappuccino? You don’t know the meaning of a cappuccino. You didn’t even specify the region of the country of origin you want your coffee from. You’ve got no soul, no rustic, Mac-slapping soul.”
Maybe I’m just insecure, but I prefer the system at Ako – walk in, get pointed to the discreet little menu at the front, smile at the plastic dog and the wooden chicken next to it, done. Or, you know, browse the cute originally designed stationery and indulge your dark and only mildly socially acceptable fantasies about being a Mac-slapping freelance start-up queen. (And there are surprisingly few euros which stand between you and this fantasy). This carefree style is all achieved even whilst still being supplied by The Barn. Now that’s what I call authentic.
Tram M2: Prenzlauer Alee/Danziger Straße
Tram M10: Husemannstraße