Across from Berlin’s most iconic theater and in the middle of the city center sits Isla Coffee. It’s the second location for Isla (the first being in the Neukölln neighborhood), and it’s a completely new project from its predecessor. Offering a refreshingly Nordic experience—from cuisine to decor—the cafe is already on its way to becoming a favorite for locals, with bigger plans in store.
Opened in October of last year, the new Isla coffee shares a space with Reform, a trendy showroom specializing in kitchen design. “We were thinking of opening another shop in an area with a lot of foot traffic, just to try something a bit different because the other cafe is more of a neighborhood cafe,” Isla founder Peter Duran says. Inspired by the Reform store in Aarhus, Denmark, which houses La Cabra Coffee, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to jump in when Reform wanted to partner with a cafe in Berlin.
In fact, if not for the sign out front advertising the coffee offerings inside, you might mistake it for just a design store. Once you walk in, however, you’re able to see the perfectly partitioned space: one half showcasing sleek, modern Danish arrangements, the other, a stylish coffee bar with just the right amount of space to fit patrons looking for expertly crafted coffee in their Kiez. Reform’s Nordic flair permeates the entire space, and the clean, minimalist layout pairs well with the cafe’s straightforward, simple menu and eco-friendly practices.
A big part of Isla Coffee’s ethos that extends to its second location is sustainability. The original location in Neukölln focuses on sustainable practices by trying to minimize waste—from drinks being served in cups made from recycled coffee grounds to trying to avoid waste altogether, Duran wants to continue this green mission. For now, keeping the zero-waste goal alive is easy. Duran says, “Everything is produced in Neukölln, and then it’s brought here. We’re slowly offering more food and that’s indeed the challenge to try to figure out how we can avoid waste to the same degree that we do in Neukölln. Because our offer here is so small right now, it’s not too hard. We just have to be clever with what we bring here and how often.”
For now, Isla Mitte doesn’t have a full food menu, but they do offer pastries from local bakery Albatross, along with a few items featuring their bread. Duran emphasizes he wants to touch on all the local favorites in his bread varieties. At the moment he’s developing an item featuring a Danish rye bread which is typical to the region, consisting of just rye with butter, a hard-boiled egg, and sea salt. Duran added, “If the ingredients are good, you don’t need to add anything—like sauces—to it. The flavor stands on its own.” Isla also offers full loaves from the bakery every Saturday, so locals don’t have to travel too far to get their bread—another way of maintaining eco-conscious values.
In addition to food, Duran wants to expand Isla’s hours and vibe into nighttime. He says, “We want to start offering wine and do a kind of aperitivo thing at night. I think that slowly moving into this type of evening business could be fun.” As Duran admits, Isla is a constantly evolving work in progress—shaped by the people of the Kiez and everything around it. Soon, you can expect Isla Mitte to seamlessly blend in just like their first cafe—only this time it will be there both night and day.
Isla Coffee is located at Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 23, 10178 Berlin. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Tatiana Ernst (@TatianaErnst) is a contributor based in Berlin. Read more Tatiana Ernst on Sprudge.