Is it any surprise that I’m writing about coffee again? I’ve been reminiscing a lot on my time in Brussels lately, and was struck by the amount of time I spent working in coffeeshops. Every free second I had was either spent in a park, on a train, eating frites (more on that later) or drinking coffee. So, I put together for you a list of the five best places to go for coffee in Brussels, whether you want to get work done, a lively atmosphere or just something that’ll get the job done. I’m embarrassed and terribly sad (so, so sad) that I’ve had to delete some of them. I take more photos of coffee than I should, so they’ve usually got to go when I’m running low on storage.
OR was hands-down my favorite place to go for coffee in Brussels. I’ve been to this little spot in Bruxelles so many times that they probably remember me. OR Espresso Bar Etterbeck is an outpost of OR Coffee Roasters, an award-winning roasting company from Belgium. After starting the roasting company, OR branched out into their exceptional espresso bars–places where they could experiment with their beans.
OR Espresso Bar Etterbeck is nestled in Place Jourdan, right next to the famed Maison Antoine and a number of other great stops for a boozy day/night out. It was (v surprisingly) never overcrowded, and had spacious seating all over. The coffee is excellent, as is to be expected (or hoped, anyway) of any coffeehouse that supplies their own beans. The food, however, stops coming out around mid-day, so make sure you’ve prepared for that.
The most lively atmosphere in a Brussels coffee spot, that’s for sure. Never empty, never quiet… never an easy seat. I’ve sat on the windowsill more than once at this spot. It’s great people watching and it’s a great place to practice your listening skills (by eavesdropping).
John & Rose is my second-favorite on this list. It was by far the best place to go when I wanted to take photos of my food. This café off Rue de Flandres is open, light and minimalist in design. Several small wooden tables are moved around daily, so it feels like a different space all the time. This was my sanctuary when I wanted to feel a little fancier than normal. (Aside: maybe I’m alone here, but when I’m feeling low, one of my favorite things to do is to find a fancy spot–a hotel lobby, a museum, a particular coffeeshop in Sainte Catherine–and sit. And just be. Don’t judge me.)
I would order a coffee and either a croissant or one of their immaculate salads, and the waitresses would leave me alone, and I would read or I would work. I really just loved being there.
Big sister to Café du Sablon, this spot for coffee in Brussels also offers Sunday brunch and access to international press. Their coffee selection is huuuuuge, if a little hard to find online (online menu access appears to be a very American thing). It can get a little crowded, but if you swing by on a calm day, you’ll have a fantastic experience.
This was the café with the best patio by far. Right next to Place Sainte Catherine, the doors/windows open up to a large square. On sunny days, this square is so littered with tables that you can’t tell which tables are from which restaurant! More reasons to stop by De Markten? Great coffee, yummy salads, an extensive sandwich menu and damn good speculoos ice cream.