Our expectations determine where we will stop for a coffee or if we will do that at all. We might want to take it to go. If all we expect from coffee is to wake us up in the morning, we should stop at the gas station or in Žito, where we can get cheap coffee from the machine. But if your taste is more delicate and you prefer to take time to savor the coffee, then Ljubljana is a perfect city to visit, for its many specialty coffee places.
Where to grab a coffee in Ljubljana?
That's a pretty usual question for locals and foreign visitors of Ljubljana. Before we attempt to answer the question we have to ask ourselves what it is that we expect from this coffee.
My favorite cafe is probably Kavarna Moderna in the Museum of Modern Art. In spring and summer, you can sit in front of it and enjoy the sunlight. They offer a vast selection of coffee they roast themselves and also sell. But none of that is what caught my eye. What is remarkable about this place is its selection of cocktails with the theme of coffee. Therefore, Moderna is a perfect place for days when you want coffee, but maybe in a less traditional form.
Črno Zrno is a cafe in the old town. We could say that it is a Colombian cafe. Its owner is a pleasant Colombian that came to Slovenia for love. And he brought here his other passion - coffee. Here, we can find various types of coffee from different regions of Colombia. The owner will tell you that a true coffee connoisseur can recognize its origin's geographic characteristics within the notes of its flavor. That's the importance of drinking coffee of a single origin, not a mixture of different varieties. I cannot say that I recognized anything else in the coffee other than the fact that the coffee is good. But, in case you are a coffee expert, I believe his cup of coffee will take you all the way to Colombia.
I need to mention Cafe Čokl - they offer all sorts of coffee there, which they roast themselves. What I especially like here is how sustainable they are. If you want to take coffee to go you have to bring your own cup, and if you want to buy some roasted coffee seeds as well.
The most important cafe in Ljubljana as far as the introduction of specialty coffee culture is concerned is definitely Cafe Stow inside the City Museum. It was they who started this movement by organizing events and festivals as well as training and educating the first baristas in this field. They also have their own roastery located in Kamnik.
But the coffee culture in Slovenia is more about the company than the coffee itself. So, we usually don't end up choosing the coffee place for the coffee that they offer, but because of the location. Because once we sit down at the cafe we are not getting up for hours. The coffee here is more of a social ritual than a beverage. And when we say "Let's go for a coffee!" that does not necessarily mean that we are going for the black bitter caffeine beverage that comes from Etiopia and which also very successfully (even more successfully than the British) colonized the whole world. No. What we want to say is "Let's go sit in a cafe for multiple hours and order some (non-alcoholic) beverage."
"Let's go for a coffee!" is usually said up 'till noon. Well, maybe even afternoon. Depends on the company and what they think is appropriate. Of course, coffee can be drunk at seven in the evening, but most commonly the more appropriate suggestion for that time is "Let's grab a beer!"
When we grab coffee with my friends, we usually end up in the cafe Pritličje. This cafe is located next to the Town Hall and it used to be considered a bit alternative, but today it's made its way to the mainstream. Besides coffee, they also offer snacks and alcoholic drinks. Because of that and because of its location (right in the city center) it is a good place for hangouts and enjoying sunny days. Even in winter heaters are placed outside, so you don't get cold, and the inside ambient is really cozy and comfortable, you can sit on cute benches there which are kind of elongated windowsills.
You can also stop in cafes Vigo, Zvezda or Cacao where you can also try one of the best ice creams in Ljubljana. Overall, the history of Ljubljana is so intertwined with coffee (about that some other time), that I would recommend you walk around the old town and choose a cafe that seems attractive to you. Coffee will be good either way. ;)