CT Coffee & Coconuts, Amsterdam

I love it when beautiful old buildings no longer suitable for their original task are repurposed, with imagination and taste, into wonderful new uses. Such is the café/restaurant/bar CT Coffee & Coconuts in Amsterdam. The façade gives the game away; this was once a 1920s movie palace, with strong Art Deco elements in the streamlined façade. But walk in through the entrance doors and you find yourself in a huge, open space, with a soaring ceiling, white stairways and mezzanines offering three floors of comfort, coffee, and a surprising coziness. It’s also abuzz with the young, energetic vibe that defines Amsterdam hip.

Location: CT Coffee & Coconuts is located in the hip neighborhood called De Pijp, at Ceintuurbaan 282-284, near the Ferdinand Bolsstraat. It’s just ½ block from De Pijp Metro station and trams #3, 12, and 24. You can learn more from their website here.

Menu: This big, airy space is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and early dinner. The name is a key to the menu: The coffee is strong and abundant, and coconuts feature in many of the items on the list. There’s a full card of hot and cold coffee drinks, from cold brew to one of the best flat whites in town to the house special, coconut coffee made with a double espresso shot, coconut milk, agave syrup, and ice. These are complemented by a wide range of teas, juices, coolers, and juice blends.

A limited early breakfast menu, served until noon, offers standard morning items with a few clever quirks. For later in the day, you can choose from soup and sandwiches, smoothie bowls, burgers, and bites. Some items have a Mexican, Asian, or Eastern European accent. There are abundant gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. The full bar is open all day.

Thoughts: The first thought in walking past the classic ’20s cinema façade and into the huge space that is CT Coffee & Coconuts is… wow! Call it industrial jungle. Or maybe Brooklyn hipster meets Euro-chic. High bare brick walls, blond wood tables and accents, white-washed beams and ceilings, basket lamps, greenery, matched with puffy linen cushions on sofas around the walls, rope-suspended tables, and even beanbag seats upstairs – somehow it all works to create an inviting and even, yes, cozy space.

The long line that snakes out the door most days tells you it’s popular with locals. It’s even something of a “thing” on Instagram, bringing in lots of young tourists with cameras at the ready. A long communal table in front of the bar full of folks working at their laptops lets you know this is also a popular working spot, and no one seems to be in a hurry to leave.

Don’t let the line out front put you off. The space is so large, with seating for some 300 people, that it moves quickly. Settle in, preferably deep into one of those comfy cushioned sofas with low coffee tables and order your favorite coffee drink. Then think about how hungry you are.

Breakfast and brunch are the big deals of the day. For early breakfast, your choices include perfectly poached eggs on sourdough with smoky grilled broccolini, seasonal dark greens, pickled radish, and parmesan.  There’s also French toast or a grilled croissant with bacon, cheese, tomato, cress, and house mustard. The house-made CT’s Granola is a perennial favorite, a tasty mixture of oats, spelt, seeds and nuts, coconut and cranberries with yogurt. If you’re having trouble deciding and want to try a bit of everything, I recommend ordering the Full CT: scrambled eggs, smashed avocado, roasted tomato, CT’s granola with yogurt and fruit, and a single signature blueberry pancake.

Although it’d be a shame to miss out on their divine coffee, if you are feeling particularly righteous and wanting something dead healthy, order the Haldi Doodh “Golden Milk” made with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and coconut milk.

After 12 noon, your choices expand to include a couple of smoothie bowls, including the Green Coconut Bowl. This one delighted me with its richness of textures and layers of flavor, with mango, passionfruit, avocado, spinach, and coconut milk, under a layer of bukini (activated buckwheat).

Probably the most popular dishes, the house’s signature plates, are the Scrambled Eggs Avo served on sourdough with miso paste, feta, and olives, and the gluten-free Coconut Pancakes. These last are not your usual stack of fluffy hotcakes nor are they the plate-sized thin pancakes the Netherlands is famous for. They’re dense and slightly chewy disks made from almond and buckwheat flour, banana, coconut cream and blueberry compote, topped with toasted coconut and maple syrup.

There’s also a menu section for the “Superfoods,” healthy blends to keep you fit. Like the Quinoa and Kohlrabi, with roast garlic, avocado, greens, broccoli, and burnt lemon aioli. Or the “No-Carb” Bibimbap with beef or tofu, artichoke, avocado, pickles, mushrooms, roasted seaweed, kimchi salsa, and all topped with a poached egg.

I enjoyed my brunch so much – and the oh so good coffee – that I returned a couple of days later for an early dinner. Although I am not vegetarian, I was intrigued by the Beet and Sheep’s Cheese Burger on a brioche bun with aioli, caramelized onions, and tomato. The blend of earthy beet and smooth-as-silk sheep cheese was a revelation, and I instantly saw why they had to bring it back to the menu by popular demand. I finished up my meal with Coconut Lime Bread, made with mascarpone.

Other early dinner options include a Korean Taco, with beef, kimchi, and fried quail’s eggs; a New York pastrami sandwich with Vinkethaler cheese, sauerkraut and house mustard; and the Tijuana Deli of pulled chipotle chicken, avocado, street corn, and parmesan.

And oh, don’t forget the pastries. There’s a board to let you know what sweet concoctions the pastry chefs have turned out that day.

For not-too-cold days, there’s outdoor seating, which will be crowded during the summer. The Dutch are sun worshippers and will sit outside even if they have to bundle up to do it. The wifi is strong and fast, and I never felt anyone was rushing me to turn off my iPad and make room for others.

Whether it’s a meal you’re wanting, a place to meet a friend over a healthy juice or a craft beer, a quick coffee pick-up, a place to chill or work alone for an hour or two, or just a spot to get off your feet for a bit while you plan the rest of your attack on Amsterdam, that’s what CT Coffee & Coconuts will serve up for you. And they will do it with kindness and a smile.

Price Range: Prices are high/average for Amsterdam. Coffee drinks run from €2.80-6.50, with most in the €3.50-4 range.  Fruit drinks, juice blends, and coolers are €3-6.10, including kombuchas and The Harry Nilsson, a whole, fresh coconut with lime on the side. For an extra €4.50, you can make that coconut drunk. Cocktails are €9-12. Early breakfast dishes start at €5.80 for Le Croissant and go up to €13.50 for the Full CT. Smoothie bowls and other larger breakfast plates are €9.20-10.50. For lunch and early dinner, dishes range from €8.90-12.50. Desserts are €2.80-6.20.

Photo credit: CT Coffee & Coconuts

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