A review of an independent cafe, Five Elephant in Kreuzberg, Berlin. Notes are by an amateur coffee enthusiast and shoestring digital nomad. Descriptions are equal parts coffee and remote-work suitability. Most photos are shot with a second-hand Fujifilm X100.
Just a block away from Görlitzer Park, Five Elephant is in an area with increasingly stiff competition for specialty coffee. This is the original shop and former roasting site (which has just moved down the block), which I prefer to the more posh coffee bar setup they have in Mitte (check photos at the bottom).
The back area of the cafe is designated for people with laptops and has some plugs. It only seats 2 groups at most. The front area of the cafe is larger, but clearly dedicated to people-interaction and (in my case) offline amusements like reading.
Even though I came on a Sunday afternoon, I had no trouble getting seats.
The cappuccino is a pretty economical €2.60. I instantly regretted having it a regular single shot because it was too weak. The milk was well frothed, a little on the hot end, but only coffee flavours I could taste were the usual nutty aroma buried in the cream. However, I can only blame that on my own order. The coffee quality remains at an inclusive spot above the “pass” in my mind.
The cinnamon roll seems like a modern apple, raisin and rhubarb manifestation of the homey recipe. To be honest, it was a bit too sweet, but I enjoyed the mixed in fruits.
Their Story / What I like About Them:
The cafe has been around for almost a decade (opened in December 2010) and I like how they have remained mostly a micro roastery. But despite their age, they only opened their second shop in 2016.
I asked one of the baristas (most of whom speak English) why the place was named Five Elephant, and he admitted there wasn’t a specific reason other than a bag of green beans is like an elephant and somehow the name felt right and stuck.
The other thing I learned from the barista was that they think a lot about customer education when they’re roasting. As roasters, they want to experiment with new flavours. As such, they usually have a rotation of experimental roasts. The staples, such as espresso, roasts they try to keep for about 3 months or so in order for customers to enjoy it for a certain period.
There are plenty of cafes serving good coffee around now. Apart from a handful of cafes that provide consistent quality of roasts and brews, the “pretty good” ones usually end up on my list because of peripheral factors: how friendly the staff are without pretense, professionalism, ambiance, and honestly even the types of customers who make up the vibe. One other crucial factor is whether they do direct trade and have long-term relationships with growers — Five Elephant does. This relationship is important for roasters to truly appreciate the source of their coffee beans and provides more direct financial rewards for growers in developing countries who are producing great crop. I would definitely drop by Five Elephant again on another day to try their future experimental roasts.
If you want to try their stuff in a more central area, the Mitte branch is minutes from Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Station.
- Coffee: Pour over (their speciality is aged coffee)
- Food: Pastries, cakes
- Cafe Space: About 40 seats.
- Friends: Hangouts, catching up, readings
- Workspace: counter table, big group round table, individual tables
- Remote Work: Bring your own pocket WiFi, plugs available
|Address:||Reichenberger Str. 101, 10999 Berlin|
If you liked this post, check out my list of Off-Centre Tokyo Cafes.