Coffee in Vilnius, Lithuania
Our first coffee stop in Vilnius had to be Second Cup. The proprietor of our local branch of the Canadian franchise in Birmingham gave us the heads up that there were three in this city thriving with new business owners. Our hotel was closest to the one on the main shopping street Gedimino pr, near M&S and we received the same welcome we enjoy at Second Cup at home. This is a good introduction to coffee in Lithuania.
The Second Cup in the new town - corporate the world - was closed on the Saturday we went past and the other was too close to Huracan, which turned out to be one of our coffee highlights, situated as it was in what turned out to be my favourite area around Vokiečių g. We first came to here after the amazing hotel concierge directed us to a nearby Thai masseuse at Azia Spa who had me more mobile after the strains of our challenging journey. Huracan is so good we went back again during our short 5 day trip and the late opening till 10pm helped. This little company started out as a roaster back in 1999 and clearly takes it's coffee seriously. We bought back a packet of beans.
The two chains are Vero and Coffee Inn, both of which I liked whenever I ventured into one, were everywhere. Sometimes 2-3 along one street, just minutes from each other. We came across a huge Vero when we took a day trip out to Kaunas, the largest coffee shop I've ever been in. I imagined it could have been a furniture showroom as it was a big open space, like a ballroom. It didn't seem like the sort of place that miserable atrocities happened in but we never know with a country that has been so battered by it's Russian neighbours and Germany alike.
Neither of these coffee chains can I find out anything about. They don't all do websites here but we did bring back a bag of Orangutan coffee (I had to!) from Coffee Inn even though they only sold ground. It's incredibly strong coffee.
We stumbled into a cat café, despite neither of being fans but it started raining, we wanted a snack and mainly we were just intrigued.
On the last day, we decided to do a bit of a coffee crawl to capture one or two places we hadn't got to. We ended up Taste Map which is friendly enough although day got off to a cracking start at the superbly named Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories. This is a brew bar where again, the owner knows his coffee and will talk about it as long as you keep asking the questions. Which we did. On top of the incredibly friendly service - even by the Lithuanian standards - CR&CS had a bit of a relaxing, low seat Japanese thing going on. This place is made to stop and taste the coffee, rather than have the laptop out. Of course, we had to buy some beans from here too in memory of a fantastic coffee experience. I mentally re-decorated my house with their simple interiors.