I’ll cut straight to the chase: in my humble yet I would say pretty well informed opinion, based on downing hundreds, if not thousands of coffee cups in a wide array of Budapest establishments which offer it these days, Espresso Embassy is the best. Since it’s also among the first third wave coffee shops to have opened when said wave hit the city, drinking coffee in Budapest has also been kind of a quest to find a coffee which is as good as the one in Embassy. And to be honest some have come pretty close, yet, ultimately, all have failed.
Many places start out with high hopes, great coffee and good atmosphere, and as time passes, something changes, there’s that one barista who is weaker than the rest, that one who is slightly rude, one morning your espresso is sub par, the other morning they changed the interior of the place, not knowing that a real coffee drinker is a monster set in their horrible ways, who will abhor uncalled for improvements.
When the universe punishes you so, it’s time to retreat to your sanctum of coffee consumption and that is of course Espresso Embassy. And as luck would have it, the place happens to be the best looking of them all as well. Of course, some might not be inherently fond of minimalist industrial design, but I do strongly believe in the rather Scandinavian tenet that the most beautiful things are the ones which also serve their function best. As a testament to this, even when filled to the brim with people, some invariably accompanied by dogs and babies in pushchairs, the place doesn’t feel uncomfortably crowded, just lively- there are several other places where a longish queue will deter me from my mission, but never in Espresso Embassy.
Although not excessively large, it is perfectly suitable for the whole lot of coffee house activities: sipping the dark liquid in solitude, perhaps alongside a glorious cardamom bun, having a chat with friends, reading a book or magazine, or writing, be it in a notebook or on your phone or laptop. The long table at the back is also ideal for striking up conversations with strangers which might just become the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.
Since it’s just around the corner from the Central European University, it’s also home to the city’s most exciting ‘overheard in a coffee house’ conversations, which can range from discussing the nature of God to the latest developments in molecular biology and it also serves up the most varied palette of languages- there’s undeniable excitement in sipping your flat white while you ponder whether your closest neighbours are speaking Latvian or perhaps Lithuanian.
I could probably further elaborate on why Espresso Embassy is so great, since it kind of functions as my second living room away from my living room, but I’ll refrain and just return to that topic which sets it aside in the first place, and it’s kind of a simple philosophy that might seem easy to pull of, but actually it’s probably the hardest. Irrespective of the season, the weather, the time of day, the number of people in the queue, Espresso Embassy serves good coffee. Always.