June 5th, 2014
11:00 AM ET
"What kind of coffee do you have?"
"Well, black, or with milk," comes the grumpy reply.
This is the delightfully retro Bambi bar, where the interior and the grumpiness of the service haven't changed for 50 years. Nor has the coffee - a drink that's always played a central role in Budapest life. Through the communist years those shots of dark, bitter coffee in small glasses, served by scowling waitresses, were a staple start to the day.
While coffee's importance hasn't changed, a new wave of coffee bars - where competitive baristas know their ristretto from their cortado - is shaking up the scene. The buzz word is "kezmuves" - it roughly translates as handmade, or craft. There are three keys to the new craft coffee bars - talented staff (with the certificates to prove it), slick design and carefully chosen ingredients.