How we award coffee places

The perception of quality differs from person to person. Everyone has a personal idea of what "quality" means to them, which details matter, and which do not. The four of us are no exception. In our awarding system, we try to communicate a simple and intuitive way of how we perceive the quality of a coffee place. We do that by awarding each specialty coffee shop at least one of us has visited with either zero, one, two, or three golden coffee beans. Typically, we visit a place more than just once before awarding it.

Zero golden beans mean that we have checked personally that the coffee shop in question prepares and serves specialty coffee - nothing more and nothing less. Zero golden beans do not mean that the quality of the place is not good. On the contrary, if our experience in a coffee shop has been repetitively bad, we might even consider removing it from the list.

One golden bean means that we were either impressed by the quality of the specialty coffee we were served or the quality of the service we experienced.

Two golden beans mean that a coffee place impressed us both with the quality of their coffee and their service quality.

Three golden coffee beans mean that we have repetitively been impressed with the quality of the coffee and the quality of the service. On top of that, to achieve a three golden coffee bean award and maintain it, a place must go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction. One example of going the extra mile is taking the time to teach customers about the origin of their coffee, ideally without being snobbish or arrogant about it. Other examples of going the extra mile are continuously sourcing special micro-lots or making sure all kinds of guests feel welcome and comfortable in the coffee shops. In short: places with three golden coffee beans are the rare exception, not the rule. Admittedly, some cities have more coffee shops we consider deserving of three golden coffee beans than others. The best explanation we have for this fact is that friendly competition between excellent coffee places tends to positively impact the entire coffee scene in a city.

Each of us awards every coffee place she or he visits on this scale. The results that you see are the average of all of our individual awards. Our awards are independent of each other. (If you ever doubt this, you should listen to Sven and Frederik debating whether a certain coffee shop in Hamburg can be considered serving specialty coffee or not.)

Each of us can award a limited number of places in each city with a "personal favorite" badge.

It can, therefore, very well be that a coffee shop is someone's favorite in a city, even if it "only" has one or two golden coffee beans.

Quality means something different to everyone. Every day, we drink as much coffee as we can, but even we cannot visit all the places on our list all the time (but we try). If you do not agree with us on an award or think that we should reconsider an award because a place has improved or gotten worse substantially recently, please let us know by sending a message to!