The ecstasy of ambience - the unadulterated pleasure of a perfect cafe
European correspondent Matt reports in from Innsbruck. Dick.
The Magic Roast’s European correspondent Matt Sime is at it again. Rubbing our noses in his adventures around the world.
I’ve been hiding away in the Dolomites; mountains in Northern Italy, bordering Austria, where you will be greeted in Italian, German, or Ladin.. and occasionally English - although I never managed to understand people knowing to say “hello” to me before I even opened my mouth…do I just look Kiwi?
Once my stash of specialty single-O Columbian Natural coffee ran out I imagined I would be delighted with some beautiful Italian roasts, laughing with locals while sipping strong espressos and delighting in the moments created within a nation that has a real history, pride, and reputation with this drink.
As the weeks dragged on my expectations had to be reclassified as delusions. In all this time I had one coffee that was passable, and that was it. My morning coffee routine felt more like a self-loathing addict getting his necessary fix, as scenes from Trainspotting fluttered across my eye-lids.
I won’t bore you with the drudgery of this period of my life; what I do want to do is share with you the pleasure of going to an incredible cafe at the end of this dry-spell.
I arrive in Innsbruck and a quick Google reveals a very exciting spot, Haepinest.
The 18 minute walk through the mesmerising architecture of this historic city feels like seconds, and I simply cannot stop taking photographs. The snow is falling heavily, and the river Inn’s colour is the most magical turquoise. Trees look comical encased in ice and snow. Tiny snowpeople have been erected on a number of fence posts too. A father is engaged in a relentless snowball fight with eight young laughing children.
There are some cafes you know are going to be amazing before you even walk through the door. Glancing through the window I was immediately struck by the hygge of the place; the lighting, the tables, the layout, the plants. Every table was packed with cool-looking clientele.
Walking in, a wave of chatter became audible; sophisticated conversations flowing freely like bubbling brooks.
I become entrenched on a corner of a couch, and I clung to this as a limpet throughout the low-tide of the day. I became aware of how magical it is hearing the noises of a cafe, and not only the chat, but of the machinery being operated; of the steam, the handles banging, the grinding.
After drinking in these sounds for a while I decide I am in a Rachmaninoff-mood, and i noise-cancel the world and crank up Lang Lang. I become engrossed in my current book, and this day turns into my longest reading sesh of 2023.
Despite my public cocooning I still occasionally catch eyes and share smiles around the room. I float in waves of consciousness, flowing between the present, my book, and my thoughts. Every time I land back in the moment I am treated to another sip of divine coffee.
As the day glides on I get a bit carried away with ordering. A kimchi toasted sandwich with incredible cheese, bread, and nuoc cham sauce. A slice of carrot cake. A large Pour Over for Two, for one.
The staff are super friendly, knowledgeable, and present, and every interaction with them leaves me feeling more and more relaxed.
I start to feel a buzz from the influx of caffeine slamming through my veins. I realise I need to manage my uppers by now indulging in some downers, and so I make enquiries of their wine; Natural wines, moderately local. The Marto “Crazy Crazy” 2021 Pet Nat was just mind blowing. The colour, the taste; it really was like a champagne of the funky orange wine world.
I spent hours in this haven, feeling a deep sense of comfort and happiness. As my headphones blasted classical bangers, and I melted into the couch sipping away at my flat white, or my filter, or my wine, I felt pure joy reverberating through my soul. I felt willing and able to take on the world. I felt inspired to chase my dreams, and fully content that I am enough at the same time.
I even reflected on you dear readers, and I wanted to share with you this pleasure. I wanted to grab you by the hand and stare into your eyes, and encourage you to make the time to find a magical place too, and to lose yourself in every moment.
Til the next coffee thought.
The Sime Archives
Matt is out there, spending his stipend in style. That’s why he’s the best goddamn European Correspondent we have here at The Magic Roast towers.
Check out the other great coffee tours Matt has done:
Forty hours of long-haul and heartbreak - better with coffee