From the medieval Špilberk Castle and the baroque Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, both sat high above the city center, to the modernist Villa Tugendhat and the well-preserved Art Nouveau building facades, the city of Brno attracts architecture and history lovers alike. Czechia’s second-largest city is brimming with cultural attractions and culinary destinations, especially for coffee lovers. If you’ve overlooked Brno in favor of the country’s capital, Prague, let this guide to Brno’s coffee scene give you a new itinerary.
Not only is Brno walkable and friendly, it has a great sense of humor. The “astronomical clock” on Freedom Square (Náměstí svobody) obscures an interesting piece of history from the Thirty Years’ War behind a phallic exterior; and the city’s legendary mascot, the Brno dragon, is represented by a stuffed crocodile that hangs near city hall. Plus, there’s always something happening on Brno’s many squares: The Christmas markets are arguably better than Prague’s, with reliably lower prices and fewer tourists.
Because it’s Czechia, there’s naturally the promise of excellent beer. But you’ll also find Brno abundant with wine from the municipalities just to its south, quirky and internationally lauded cocktail bars, and a burgeoning specialty coffee sector. Since I first moved near Brno in 2014, it’s begun to seem like new cafes open every month, and good coffee is to be found in every nook and cranny of the winding city. “The cafe culture in Brno is extensive, fantastic and diverse,” says Jiřina Plačková of Café Placzek. “You can even enjoy excellently prepared coffee in small student cafes with confidence. Brunches, which we first offered 10 years ago, are now an attraction at many cafes.”
The local cafe culture has its own idiosyncrasies; for example, the popularity of “limonáda,” a sparkling water beverage served with your choice of house-made fruit or herbal syrups, has influenced unique takes on cold coffee drinks, from Kafec’s Mangoffein to V Melounovém cukru’s espresso tonic with grapefruit juice and juniper brandy. Because it’s such a challenge to narrow down the great cafes in Brno, take this as a list of places with consistently great atmosphere, where you can get to know Brno as the gem it is.
Kafec Brno Oral
“All roads lead to Kafec,” beckons a blackboard in the arched passageway that leads right into the popular cafe’s courtyard (translation mine—Kafec is pronounced ‘kafetz’). With Kafec’s eight locations found across Czechia’s major cities, including two in Brno, this has a ring of truth to it.
Though Kafec first opened in Brno in 2010, according to the Kafec website, founder Tomáš Konečný opened his first-ever cafe in his parent’s living room when he was eight years old (it served Nescafé and Czech-style Turkish coffee, which is hot water poured directly onto ground coffee). Since then, he’s developed the concept considerably: Kafec is a well-recognized name in the specialty sphere, where presentation is a top priority for the friendly baristas, who are always willing to advise on the best possible coffee and food experience. Trust me, you’ll want to take them up on this—their breakfast and brunch menu is enormous.
Kafec offers primarily single-origin coffees. Each day’s two espresso options are detailed on Victoria Arduino grinders, and guests can choose any coffee for filter preparation. Espresso is prepared with 15 grams of coffee on the Naked Portafilter, a type of bottomless portafilter. On the tail end of summer, I try Kafec’s Peru Tiofilo Perales coffee as espresso (pleasant acidity), their Mangoffein iced drink with cold brew and mango juice (a delicious, unexpected combo), and the Coffee Bitter (their take on the espresso tonic, with cold brew).
The brightly lit, two-floor cafe offers plenty of space, including courtyard seating. The color scheme is as cheerful as the baristas, combining a robin’s egg blue bar with light wood accents, and a blue-and-beige espresso machine to match. A full-wall blackboard displays the day’s coffees, including a pairing with one of their “legendary” sweet or savory waffles (gluten-friendly options). This location has an accessible bathroom!
With three full-scale cafes and one pop-up to be found around the city, REBELBEAN is a truly Brno-grown brand. Since 2013, co-founders Michal Stec and Jan Špalek (who left Brno roastery Gill’s Coffee to start REBELBEAN) have nurtured it into one of the country’s most recognized roasters. Their Head of Coffee is two-time Czech Barista Champion Denis Kramář.
Upon walking into REBELBEAN Vlněna, nearby the Galerie Vaňkovka shopping center, you might feel you’ve stepped into a whole new planet of specialty coffee. The phrase #BUD’REBEL (“Be a rebel”) blazes from a bright red neon sign at one end of the long room, where REBELBEAN coffee is on display next to a wide range of home brewing equipment. Some coffees feature uniquely Czech tasting notes like dandelion honey in PERU ELVIS TINEO RAFAEL and plum jam in MY DAILY MIX #10, a blend of coffees from Honduras, Peru, and El Salvador that boasts a Spotify playlist of the same name.
REBELBEAN’s pricey yet expansive drink menu, above the Victoria Arduino espresso machine, includes teas, natural wines and cocktails, light bites, and an impressive display of colorful cakes. Spoiled for choice, I decide on the “degustation combo” that features batch brew, espresso, and cortado on a wooden serving tray. It’s the smoothest cortado I’ve ever had.
Brno-based firm Kaplan Architekti designed this bright, industrial space that resembles an open office—well-suited to its location in the middle of Vlněna office park, on the site of a former factory. The atmosphere is modern but relaxed, with a bar made of honey oak alongside dark gray metal and chrome accents, exposed ceiling pipes, and custom-made fluorescent light fixtures. Both REBELBEAN’s style and level of quality fit their proclamation on Instagram: “We live for coffee. We do things our way. We don’t follow the crowd. We are Rebels!”
With seating that looks out onto a statuesque Franciscan church (Kostel svatých Janů), Café Placzek is my favorite place to spend contemplative sunlit mornings and weekend brunches. Married couple Jiřina Plačková and Jiří Plaček opened the sit-down cafe, which bears the pre-World War II form of their family name, Placzek, in 2013 (both ‘cz’ and ‘č’ are pronounced like the ‘ch’ in ‘chair’). The cafe is located on the first two floors of a Functionalist building, with the couple’s bed-and-breakfast on the remaining three.
It was very important to the Plačkovi (Plačeks) to honor the history of the area and their family’s connection to it. The pre-war Placzek family, who were of Jewish origin, ran a department store not far from the cafe’s current location. Meanwhile, the modern-day Plačeks engaged architects from the RAW studio to help them preserve the cafe building’s 1930s Functionalist style, which guests can see in elements like the round chamfered tables and custom-built TON chairs with rattan webbing. In contrast, a large bright-red Spanish veneer chandelier “lends the cafe a modern touch,” Plačková says.
For their coffee, Café Placzek has built a long-term relationship with the Liberec-based roaster NORDBEANS, which sources sweet, single-origin Brazilian coffee for espresso and a variety of African and South American single-origins for filter. Behind the bar, baristas prepare batch brew, pour-overs on V60 or Chemex, and classic espresso drinks on a Victoria Arduino Eagle One. Regardless of the season, guests’ favorite coffee drink is “unambiguously cappuccino,” Plačková says, but they also offer coffee drinks with flavors like jasmine, thyme, and lavender.
Beyond its relaxed, friendly atmosphere, the cafe’s international food menu is another standout element. You’ll find Ashkenazi Jewish influences like blintzes, shakshuka, and latkes — from the Plačeks’ grandma’s handwritten cookbook—next to variations on Eggs Benedict and a Franciscan breakfast plate. Fresh bread and pastries are made each morning.
The couple’s overall vision, says Jiřina Plačková, was “to create a unique place, […] to live up to the family tradition of entrepreneurship [and] to return [the Placzek] name, formerly a label of quality, to the people of Brno.”
V Melounovém cukru
There’s more to this cafe’s opaque exterior than meets the eye. Anyone who has stepped foot in V Melounovém cukru—a direct translation of Richard Brautigan’s 1968 novel titled In Watermelon Sugar into Czech—knows the cafe and wine bar has no shortage of personality. Yet its exterior, despite the graffiti, is somehow so nondescript that if you blink, you might miss it. Look for it in the alleyway off Josefská street, a thoroughfare leading from Brno’s main train station towards Freedom Square.
Inside, you’ll find a specialty cafe’s pursuit of quality combined with the dry wit of a dive bar. The counter is winged by liquor bottles, a La Marzocco espresso machine, and a blackboard with the latest “esko” (local slang for “espresso”) and seasonal offerings accompanied by playful chalk drawings, while Polaroids strung across the left-hand wall add personality to the dark panels.
V Melounovém cukru offers two kinds of beans at a time, one for espresso and another for batch brew, from Czech roasters like Jedno Kafe and Beansmith’s Coffee Roastery. Their constantly evolving menu features unique and funny drinks, including coffee cocktails: During my first-ever visit, I couldn’t help but order Babiččinu paruku (“Grandma’s Wig”), a coffee served with cotton candy on top. This time, my trepidation over the espresso tonic with grapefruit juice and borovička (Juniper brandy), a distilled pine spirit with Slovak origins, is for nought—the acidity and multi-faceted buzz are delightful.
Not only does V Melounovém cukru take coffee seriously, they also take tea, wine, and liquor seriously. Tea lovers will also find a select menu of loose leaf teas complete with a description of their origins and flavor profiles. If you’re lucky, you’ll find cakes from the famed Brno bakery SORRY – PEČEME JINAK (“Sorry, we bake differently”), which lays claim to the original “moss cake,” in their display case.
An oft-praised darling of the Brno specialty coffee scene founded in 2016, Punkt. is located on a residential street to the west of Lužánky Park, a large green space that I like to think of as the Central Park of Brno. The higher price point of Punkt.’s coffee menu brings a significant rise in quality, including great service from in-the-know baristas.
The cafe offers a rotating list of beans, both roasted under their own name and from Czech roasters like Fiftybeans and Doubleshot. On my last spring visit, I could choose from Punkt.’s Colombia Nelson Taborda and Fiftybeans’ Kenya Mara Estate, both naturals, for espresso, and Punkt.’s Mexiko Ucuhiti on batch brew. AeroPress and V60 brewing methods are available alongside espresso drinks made on a sleek black Victoria Arduino espresso machine.
You can grab a gorgeous cake or pastry to go accompany your brew, with gluten-friendly and vegan options available. Like in any good Czech cafe, you can also order craft beer or peruse the liquors on display behind the coffee bar.
Punkt. strikes me as a place where quiet literary types and punk rockers are equally at home. Seafoam green cups and a liberal dose of green plants provide a pop of color against the black cafe bar and furniture made from stained dark pine wood. The cafe’s window seats look out onto a front patio with seating space for sunny days, but it’s not the only way to enjoy Punkt. The cafe’s motto is to offer “a good mood for every type of weather” (translation mine).
Coffee Bar Mymika
A short walk that’s nearly equidistant from both Lužánky Park and the Moravian Square (Moravské náměstí), Coffee Bar Mymika takes its name from a simple, straightforward concept. The Czech portmanteau “MyMiKa” (pronounced like ‘mih-mee-kah’) is short for “my milujeme kávu,” or “we love coffee.”
When I think about Mymika, the first word that comes to mind is “sweet.” The cafe uniquely offers a drink called the Coco-Chilli Flat White, with a harmonious blend of coffee, coconut milk, and chili that starts light and ends spicy. It pairs well with any of the delectable cakes on offer.
Mymika is a great place to enjoy coffee from Czech roasters like QB Coffee Roasters, Fiftybeans, and Beansmith’s Coffee Roastery, available as batch brew, V60 or Chemex pour-overs, and espresso drinks brewed on a La Marzocco GB5. The drink menu also offers wine and other light alcoholic drinks in addition to seasonal “lemonades” made with homemade fruit and herbal syrups.
I love Mymika for its relaxing atmosphere and its window seats, where I can work on my laptop safe away from the traffic of the busy street. In the main part of the cafe, wooden benches are decked with pillows and accented by yellow chairs. If you stop by with the intention of looking away from your screen, you can cuddle up to the big wood bookshelf or sip coffee beneath the watchful eyes of pop art-styled portraits by Klaudie Švrčková.
Kult Cafe looks out onto the bustling, tree-lined Husitská street, which is closer to the Královo Pole train station than the Brno main station. Owner Bohdan founded it for the working and student regulars who create the daily life of the area. As he writes on the Kult Cafe website (translation mine), “I didn’t drink coffee for many years [before opening the cafe]. I probably never tasted good coffee! While tasting my first excellent espresso I understood that there was a gaping hole in my life!”
“Kult” (pronounced like ‘koolt’) is short for “kultivované chutě,” meaning “cultivated tastes.” The cafe offers batch-brew coffee, espresso drinks, Sonnentor teas, wine, beer, and homemade apple cider and cakes. At any given time, there are two different coffees from Brno roaster Caffé del Saggio, brewed on their gold La San Marco espresso machine. The standing offer is a Brazil Cerrado dulce with light chocolate tones for espresso and milk drinks, occasionally alternating with a fruitier, more acidic coffee of African origin.
You’ll recognize Kult Cafe by the geometric logo of a coffee cup sticking out from the shop and the retro La San Marco espresso machines in the windows. The cafe’s calm, white interior with multiple rooms was designed by architecture firm Šárka Šárka, and alternates colorful furniture between low booths and high chairs. The first, minimalist impression of the space is balanced by drawings of robots on their white boards, the display of glasses and cezve (a small, long-handled pot with a pouring lip) to the left of the bar, and bookshelves stacked with Czech tomes.
The cafe rotates its art displays regularly. During late 2020, I saw COVID particles made out of pipe cleaners and illustrations of people wearing face masks. In April 2023, three full walls are taken up by different interpretations of the Eurasian blue tit (it’s a bird!) drawn by students from a local art school.
While you won’t find an Aeropress or V60 at Kult, you will find some other standouts for Brno: espresso tonic, a Greek frappé, Turkish tea, and an à la carte breakfast menu offered from opening at 7:30 through 1 pm. I recommend the scrambled eggs with fresh chives, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber slices. Kult Cafe is a great place to stop before getting your evening bite to eat (the cafe is surrounded by a number of restaurants and bars) or to start your day the next morning.
It would be challenging to create a fully comprehensive list of all the great cafes in Brno. My other recommendations include Café Momenta, a breath of fresh air on the busy yet picturesque Cabbage Market square (Zelný trh); Mitte Panská, a specialty cafe with a hostel one door over; De Fleurs, a florist café with delectable homemade treats and quaint outdoor seating; and newcomer Monogram Espresso Bar.