Coffee from Canada

It’s surprisingly hard to find a decent cup of coffee here in Holland. The Dutch have always been a nation of filtrated coffee drinkers, but in recent years they have largely fallen for the Senseo-disease. The Senseo Crema, as it’s called, is a coffee pad system, exclusively marketed by Philips and Douwe Egberts (Holland’s biggest coffee brand). The problem is that the coffee made with these pads really tastes like… filtrated coffee. I suspect it’s a clever way of selling people something they already had, but giving them the idea that this must be better because it’s pads. Drink coffee like they do in Italy–but without the too strong taste of Italian coffee. All this at a higher price than filtrated coffee, of course. Maybe that’s what’s really wrong here: Dutch people in general don’t like their coffee too strong.

If you find a place where they serve espresso or capuccino, they usually know how to mess it up properly. The coffee is piping hot, and the foam on a capuccino is just that: a lot of air, with a layer of sweetened cocao powder dusted over it. Espresso is all about how full they can poor the smaller espresso cups, making the coffee as watery as possible. I’ve given up hope that I’ll ever drink an Italian caffè outside of Italy: at most half a centimeter of utter caffein bliss, thick, creamy, with intense flavour.

Not that I have a fancy espresso machine at home, I must admit. The time will come when I’ve saved enough money to buy the Wega Mininovaand have the time to use it. In the meantime I’m using a Nespresso machine, which gives me a nice range of flavours and a reasonable time-per-shot. It may not be a God shot, but for me it’s a Go(o)d-enough-shot. It also saves me from the eternal search for the best beans, including expeditions to obscure Italian coffee breweries like the one I accompanied my friends Chris and Vincent on, last year[1].

You’ll understand I was pleased to find a coffee house here where the coffee is actually quite good. There’s not a lot Dutch about it though; it was set up by two Canadian guys[2] near the Amersfoort train station, where I arrive for work every morning. They know how to make a cup of coffee: it’s not too hot and the milk foam is thick and creamy. Then there’s the un-Dutch service (these guys wishing you a nice day while you’re walking out holding a large beaker of latte really is a great way to start your day), as well as the relaxed ambiance they’ve created with comfy leather chairs and soothing music. I hope they’ll make it; but already they have opened new shops in Utrecht and Rotterdam. Their business name is Social Ground.


1. We were all on a short vacation to Lake Garda, in Italy. With us being coffee geeks, we tasted about as much coffee as we could find (which isn’t particularly hard anywhere in Italy). Our search halted in Lazise, where we tasted Caffè Roen in Caffè Lacisium. This was the best, the most tasty coffee we had had; and there was the friendly owner as well. We found the name and address of the coffee brewer on a napkin. So we set out to buy us some beans. The village was easily found, but to find the exact address we had to ask some friendly villagers–who, although they were very friendly indeed, did not speak anything other than Italian. We got there in the end, a large building on an almost deserted Zona Industriale, inside smelling intensely of coffee, with a helpful young lady who didn’t speak much English either, but easily understood what we came for. Our car smellt of coffee on the way back, and I was once again dreaming of a Wega Mininova.

Caffè Lacisium in Lazise, Italy

2. It’s interesting how they abbreviate capuccino: ‘tall cap to go!’ the first guy shouts, and the barrista repeats it loudly, like they’re in the army. In Italy they often repeat after your timid ‘due capuccino’: ‘ah, due capuccio!’ Just an observation.

2005-11-05. 3 responses.


  1. […] at Social Ground at the Amersfoort train station, where I bought a grande latte every morning; still the best coffee I can find. I hope they’ll open up another shop at my side of the country (East). Goodbye to […]

  2. Re: Nespresso coffee capsules.

    I just received an order for for nespresso from the U.S. noting a capsule price of 49 cents, while our Canadian price is currently 65 Cents, with the exchange as it is presently this is a huge difference.

    Are there any other Canadian Nespresso users out there who are looking at this?

  3. I like your template of your website. Did you have to buy it or make it yourself? Do you mind telling me where you got it?