The capital city of Estonia is full of picturesque historical sites, but many special cafés also are waiting to be discovered here.
BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Photos by Tanya Nanetti
Tallinn, Estonia’s capital and most populous city, is world famous for its Old Town historical center, a picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized as the best-preserved medieval city in Northern Europe.
The city is characterized by narrow cobblestone streets, built according to the city’s original 13th-century plan. Stunning Gothic architecture, and a succession of spires, domes, and small gardens offer magnificent views.
Tallinn is often visited on a day trip from Helsinki, Finland, just a two-hour ferry ride. But a single day in Tallinn often proves too short a time to fully enjoy the city. Its many attractions, in addition to churches and museums, include a vibrant food scene and a growing specialty-café scene.
Here is a short list of interesting cafés to visit on a quick tour of the city.
If you arrive in Tallinn on the red-eye ferry from Finland, the first thing you’ll want to look for once you disembark is a delicious breakfast. A short, pleasant walk will take you from the ferry terminal to the RØST Bakery, a small Scandinavian-inspired sourdough bakery. It’s located in a former mill in the so-called “Stalker’s passage,“ the recently renovated part of Rotermann, a historic district that lies between the Old Town and the harbor.
Come here for the delicious pastries: Nordic cinnamon and cardamom rolls, but also pain-au-chocolat and croissants, homemade focaccias, cookies, and more. But stay for the coffee, roasted by different Estonian and European micro-roasters. During our visit, they were brewing espresso from local The Brick and the Dutch Friedhats as a bottomless filter coffee.
We needed some early-morning caffeine, so we started with batch brew and then switched to espresso; both were excellent choices.
Another short walk will lead you to the first cobblestone streets of the Old Town, and Värav Coffee and Toast. The shop is located in a quiet parking lot just behind the famous St. Olaf Church. On paper it might not look like the best location, but in fact Värav is just perfect: a tiny house housing only the coffee shop and a lovely, simple patio.
Inside, a cozy space with a couple of tables, lots of plants, and coffee roasted by local Kokomo Coffee Roasters. Outside is room for more tables, perfect for enjoying a tasty coffee and one of their delicious avocado toasts.
Fifteen minutes away from Old Town is Balti Jaama Turg, a quaint three-level market that mixes trendy food stalls, fresh foods, and an upper floor full of antiques, vintage clothes and old memorabilia. We came here to find a new charger for my phone, but were pleased to find a small specialty-coffee stall on the ground floor, next to burgers and Asian stalls.
The Surf Café proudly serves Rotterdam’s Shokunin Coffee Collective. This café is like a cool ocean breeze and beach vibes in the middle of Tallinn, with its colorful mugs, a comfy couch to relax on, and an old surfboard hanging on the wall. It’s a fun place to get some rest after the hours spent exploring the city.
Late afternoon is the perfect time for a visit to Telliskivi Creative City. This graffiti-filled former industrial area is now home to 250 businesses and 1,500 people, with art, ice cream parlors, film festivals, bike lovers, and many small stalls for eating and drinking. Locals and tourists often come here for their first drink of the evening. But if there is still time for another coffee (and we highly recommend you find that time), don’t miss a visit to the Brick Coffee Roastery, just around the corner.
The Brick is housed in a black brick building (hence the name) and has a small bar and a group of tables that share space with the roasting facilities. With its curated menu, range of tasty brews, and the chance to chat with the entire team—roasters and owners included—the Brick Coffee Roastery is a must-visit for all lovers of specialty coffee.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.