Sometimes you can spot a speciality coffee shop from a mile away. This was the case with MAME, a humble cafe on Josefstrasse in District 5 in Zurich. Little did I know that I was about to walk into the jewel of the craft coffee industry.
The air in Zurich was crips and a light fog settled on the street, obscuring the elegant buildings. As I turned the corner as indicated by Google Maps, the warm, earthy smell of coffee slipped out of an open door. Large windows greet you with the phrase “The best coffee is the one you like the most”. Like I said, humble.
It seemed like my kind of place.
Once I snapped the door shut behind me, I knew I was home. MAME’s warm white interior evoked a Scandinavian style with large wooden tables and an intricate wall sketch. It was a welcoming mix of warm and cool, and minimalism, a sort of wood meets white. I removed my scarf, beanie, gloves and coat – all necessary in a Swiss winter – and found my seat at the high table.
While the barista was jesting with some customers, I took the time to observe the cafe. The one wall was beautifully designed with a mural depicting natural scenes, like mushrooms, deer and rabbits. The opposite wall showcased all the coffee blends they serve at MAME.
“Hey mate! How ya doing?” an Australian accent in a black baseball cape greeted me. Suddenly it felt even warmer.
Matt Winton, my cheery barista, introduced me to the various single roasts hosted at MAME. I quickly became acquainted with Vertical, from a Swiss roastery, The Coffee Collective from Denmark and Italy’s Gardelli Speciality Coffees. I picked my poison: the Diamond Black Vertical coffee, a single origin from Brazil.
The coffee wheel on the back wall warned about spicy and chocolaty flavours. On a cold day like today, it seemed perfect. So I got a latte and a croissant; sat back and sipped delicately on my latte.
Something shiny in the corner caught my eye. Five beautiful and busty trophies boasted Switzerland’s Number 1 and Number 3 Baristas. I was the in the presence of legends.
Mathieu Theis is an engineer turned barista, and he has been sweeping up the medals since then. He landed the title of Swiss Barista Champion and claimed third place at the World Barista Championship in 2018. He owns MAME alongside his partner Emi Fukahori, winner of the 2015 Swiss Barista Championship.
As I’ve mentioned previously when writing about Truth Coffeeworks, a coffee shop is 50% about the coffee and 50% about the conversations. There were some pretty interesting conversations happening here.
I learned that Matt is from Australia, but he is half Swedish. He fell into coffee after being an electrical engineer. I also learned that speciality coffee is on the rise in Zurich, and Switzerland is rumoured to have a first-ever coffee festival in March 2019.
I find the types of people attracted to speciality coffee quite similar, no matter where in the world it is. They are chatty, friendly, and opinionated. Soon, the hours slip by and before you know it, you have made new friends. This is particularly surprising given the nature of Switzerland’s cool nature.
Any good speciality coffee shop feels like a home away from home for me.