In the center of Ljubljana near the Central Market, Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, and the funicular entrance, sit three unique Ljubljana cafes. They are all situated side by side each with their own outdoor seating area. Also, each hosts its respective regulars who frequent their cafe year round. It may seem like nothing from the outside, but a quick trip in and a brief conversation with the workers quickly sets these three apart from numerous cafes spread throughout the city.
I first noticed the line of cafes as we went to buy tickets for the puppet show. Some ladies inside the theater told me about the cafes. Encouraged that they were worth the time investment, I took the relationship to the next level during an early afternoon stroll through the city.
I remember walking into a friend’s apartment and being surrounded by books, movies, and music. The couch was outdated but comfortable, and the rug matched the couch perfectly. Conversations and creativity seemed to take off in his apartment, and whenever a group of friends gathered, we always ended up at his place. I was taken back to these moments as soon as I walked into Daktari.
The decor could have been transplanted from that friend’s apartment along with the comfortable atmosphere. The coffee in Daktari is nothing really special, but what happens here makes this cafe worth the visit. On any given night, one can walk in to a poetry reading, live music gig, or a film screening. Daktari is a center for culture, and an outlet for creative energy to find its expression.
The bar is a favorite of the performers and directors of the neighboring theatre. As for the overall feel, to me it had less character than Daktari. However, I could see myself easily pulling up a chair or finding a place on the patio to hang out with friends.
The beauty of this place is their commitment to engaging the city socially. One of the few places in Ljubljana (that I know of) offering suspended coffees. The idea goes like this: you buy two coffees and drink only one. The second goes to someone less fortunate who may not be able to afford a quality cup of joe. The offering reflects the overall social awareness of Ljubljana and resembles other companies operating within the city.
Café Čokl (Chokl)
Of the three, this one definitely served my favorite coffee. The ladies from the theater mentioned this place, but warned me that: “the guy takes coffee too serious. He wants to explain the process and tastes of the coffee.” As they spoke these words, my eyes lit up! Not many places in the Balkans take coffee seriously as in wanting to really interact with the flavor of a tiny coffee bean (third wave). I sat at the bar talking with the barista who explained that the owner had started home roasting their coffee. Anything bought came from small roasters in Germany. After a bit of conversation, the barista invited me back later to hang out with some friends so I did.
Upon returning, they offered a few different drinks which included an Aeropress, Chemex, and, of course, espresso. As I said, they take coffee serious, and the end product reflects this.
Each of the three cafes has its perks, and what it comes down to is individual taste. However, I would recommend giving each a fair shake by visiting each one to explore the potential.
Location: Krekov Trg 7-9, Ljubljana, Slovenia