For his new book Youropeans, writer Mark Schalekamp travels to Europe’s many capitals. While there, he stops by a serious café to check the pulse of local coffee culture. This week he finds himself in Zagreb, Croatia, at café Express.
These days most people tend to work at home, in cafes (cost: a single cup of coffee milked all day long) and sometimes even in offices. In Zagreb, they do things differently: they work on the street. Anywhere really – on tables, on terraces, from 9 to 6 everyday. And when they’re done working there’s no reason to leave; they just stay seated.
In short, ‘office streets’, especially in the area around the Jelačić Square, in Bogovićeva street. “That’s where you’ll find the mayor and his council,” said a doctor I interviewed for my book Youropeans. Naturally, we were sitting on a terrace. Next to the H&M and an enormous sandwich shop were a lot of IT companies. Phone calls, brainstorms, meetings – you do it all outside. With coffee. Waiters moving about, trays full. Most emerged from the grand cafes, but a few came from small shops with real coffee. Like Express.
“This is a blend of Brazilian and Indonesia beans,” said Oliver, the barista, talking as he nonchalantly as he created latte art. Big, bearded, around thirty years old and very friendly. You know, the international barista look, right? In Oliver’s case, he is a great barista. Two years ago he won second prize in the Croatian barista championships. Last year, he came in second.
Express is a hip tent with superfast Wifi (with a cool password: clinteastwood), vintage U2 on the loudspeakers, chalkboard art, single gear race bike hanging above the door, lots of wood, a long bar and beautiful tiles on the floor. But then again, it’s not like anyone ever experiences all this. After all, they’re all sitting outside.
Express, Petrinjska 4, Zagreb, Croatia, www.facebook.com/expresszg
Translated from Dutch by us. Images shot by Mark or ‘borrowed’ from Express’s Facebook page:)