No Fire No Glory

Laura Harker profiles one of Prenzlberg’s funkiest coffee shops…

It was back in 2009 that Ralf Berlit and Manuela Berger decided to break with their traditional corporate catering jobs and turn their ground floor Friedrichshain office into a cafe.

After discovering Third Wave coffee culture, which at the time was mostly unheard of in Berlin, they decided that its sustainability and quality matched their own ideal philosophy of what food and drink should be, and took the gamble of opening No Fire No Glory in Jessnerstrasse.

Image by James Fancourt
Image by James Fancourt

When ownership of the Friedrichshain building switched hands, the café was forced to move out, but – thanks to an offer from one of their regular customers – relocated in 2011 to its current site in Rykestrasse, Prenzlauer Berg.

Now one of the key members in the Berlin Coffee Society, (a group of six of the city’s top coffeehouses that includes such stalwarts as Café CK, Five Elephant Coffee, Bonanza Coffee Roasters, Double Eye and Godshot Coffee Club), the second iteration of NFNG continues the couple’s commitment to serving barista-grade coffee in a design-friendly yet unpretentious environment.

The huge wooden counter is the first thing that stands out in the café’s main room; manned by a friendly, international team of baristas, it features a slew of neatly arranged and (mostly home-made) sandwiches, croissants and cake, all gently lit by low-hanging designer lamps.

The interior’s emphasis on woods and metals feels like a refreshing change from the shabby-chic aesthetic of many Berlin cafes. Even though the food looks and tastes great, the focus is still mainly on the coffee; so much so that Ralf and Manuela decided to end their daily selection of pies – justifiably popular in the early days – to push their coffee centre stage.

Image by James Fancourt

The café’s main beans come from local Bonanza Coffee Roasters and The Coffee Collective (often regarded as Copenhagen’s finest roasters), and coffees are served with Demeter certified organic milk delivered fresh every from Ökodorf Brodowin. The aeropresses and Hario V60 filters that are used to brew the coffee are also available to buy.

Despite the inherent nerdiness of many Third Wave coffee spots, the staff here are both knowledgable and accessible, and usually happy to answer questions about beans or brews. That said, the menus also double up as a handy beginner’s guide to the coffee on offer, including tasting notes on the beans and an explanation of the choice of brewing methods.

The main room is mellow enough, usually a mix of low-key music and convivial chatter. But for a quieter time, head to the smaller room out back, where you will find a few tables and a huge retro till register illuminated by an elegant gilded chandelier. All in all, a great place for top-notch coffee, a catch-up with friends or to read a book or newspaper.

All photos by James Fancourt Photography

No Fire No Glory

Rykestr. 45, 10405 Berlin
T: 030 28839233
Open: 10-20 Daily

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