De Bakkerswinkel, a Starbucks Reserve Tasting class + Dutch Stamppot dinner.

Husni and Hadiah were leaving today, so I had another few days here in Amsterdam to plot out on my own. But to start with we had one last brunch together – I picked De Bakkerswinkel, a cute bakery/cafe that I had been reading about.

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After they swapped our Dutch menus for English ones, we couldn’t pick, so we went for a few different things between us.

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Hadiah and I had a peach scone, chocolate brioche french toast and two savoury rolls. The highlight was the selection of housemade jams and curds that come to your table to slather on anything you order.

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The Dutch really love their sandwiches – we picked one roll with chorizo, dutch cheese and pumpkin ginger jam, and another with smoked mackerel.

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Afterwards, it was goodbye Hadiah and Husni. Hus set off to drive back to London.

I headed over to ‘The Bank’, where the Starbucks Laboratory is based. I know, I know – Starbucks. BUT, this place is INCREDIBLE. Set in a 430 square meter subterranean space in the vault of a historic bank on the popular Rembrandtplein, with a coffee testing theatre, this is their hub for testing out all the new innovative coffee brewing methods, food concepts, and offers special Reserve beans.

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What works here, makes its way out to the rest of Europe, shaping coffee consumption for the continent. I was heading over for a Coffee Tasting at the Reserve coffee bar, and after I told the ‘coffee master’ there that I was writing a book on coffee, he was thrilled to sit and chat and teach me a thing or two about coffee that I didn’t know.

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He was testing out some new Mexican beans on the Clover, a hi-tech, amazing machine that is linked via wifi and externally controlled – and brews what the Starbucks CEO says is the best cup of coffee he has ever tasted. I ended up with a cup of Ethiopian Sun-Dried Yirgacheffe, brewed in their Clover.

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There are very few places on the planet where one can get a coffee of that standard, and I was blown away. Evert, the coffee master, gave me some specially selected baked goods (white chocolate and raspberry cookie) which he recommended taking a bite of before sipping. He never recommends adding sugar to coffee, as you can change the profile of the actual brew. Whereas if you eat a small biscuit or something else with your coffee, it can simply enhance the taste.

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I sat there for a while as it was raining outside, and finished some book reviews that were due. Afterwards, I felt like some ‘traditional’ Dutch food, so head over to Haesje Claes, a restaurant well-known for stamppots, a traditional Dutch dish of a variety of meats and a potato mash with an added vegetable (usually kale, parsnip or carrot). I started with an incredible white asparagus soup, main of a stamppot with a carrot mash and meatball, sausage, bacon and mustard, and finished with a slice of Dutch Apple Pie (appeltaart).

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Then it was off home to sleep off the carb coma, and rest up for a long day of riding the canals on a bike tomorrow!



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