Every week author Maurits Koelewijn talks about the coffee culture and life in his hometown Amsterdam. This week he drank his black coffee at the Coffee Company in the Wibautstraat.
Hope is the last thing that goes. I have to think about this sentence when I’m sitting in the Coffee Company and I hear two people talking about winning the lottery. The chance of winning that 30 million is about 0.00002%. But this fact seems irrelevant, or unknown.
Would I change a lot about my life if I would win such an amount of money? No, I would become a fulltime author, but I would write less from Amsterdam and more often from the white sand beaches of the Seychelles or one of the bounty islands of Tahiti. And I would buy a houseboat in Amsterdam. And here comes something painful to read for all the people who are left wing voters and are very fond of the environment: I would buy a very rare and desirable classic car of the French brand Citroën, known as the SM. Excusez-moi.
Oh well, everybody sometimes thinks about what to do with thirty million. A lot less people dream about what you have to do to earn it. My girlfriend however asked me yesterday, when we just came back from a lovely dinner, if I would give up my hand for five million. Without any hesitation, I said no.
‘And two fingers?’
‘Uh.. Still no.’
‘But you will have five million then, remember?’ she said.
Okay, so she will do it. That’s clear!
Luckily there’s no reason for panic. The chance someone will give you five million in exchange of two fingers is even smaller than the chance that these two people will win the lottery. Just let people dream about yachts with a theater, swimming pool and helicopter landing pad, or about a Lamborghini or Bugatti. In the meantime, I’m ordering a coffee and start dreaming as well. About the new novel I’m writing. The chance that will be here one day is 100%.
Every week author Maurits Koelewijn talks about the coffee culture and life in his hometown Amsterdam. This week he drank his black coffee at Latei in the Red Light District.
I was bootcamping in a park in the east of Amsterdam the other day. During all the sweating my teammate Sophie told me they don’t shower together anymore, after doing gymnastics at school.
‘Why not?’ I asked surprisedly.
‘Otherwise kids will make pictures.’
Wow, I never realized that. Of course, nowadays students have a smartphone and thus a camera. That wasn’t the case when I was young. And of course you think I’m going to tell you everything was better in former times. Well, no, it wasn’t. Taking a shower wasn’t a problem, though. But in my first year in high school I was head over heels in love with a girl who was totally unavailable. I desperately wanted to have a picture of her. But where should I start? WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist yet. Suddenly I made a very important discovery. In the beginning of the class register were pictures of all of my classmates! I secretly took the book, hid it underneath my sweater and took it to the copying machine. I was so nervous when I put down the book on the glass plate. What if the vice principal would walk in and ask me what I was doing? Luckily everything went well and when I walking down the playground again I was so happy! I was in possession of a very little, black and white picture of an unavailable girl!
Nowadays, everybody makes pictures of everything. You don’t expect people to bother. Except when they’re in the shower of course. But in the cute gnome house Latei, everybody is still wearing their clothes and still people are panicking when I make some pictures. The barista even asks me irritated to stop doing that.
There is just one visitor not noticing any hustle. It concerns an older, calm gentleman who is busy with more important things. Eventually, I took a picture of him. A little bit behind his back.. Just like when I was copying the picture of that girl. Maybe it’s not the way it should be, but it gives you the prettiest pictures. Just take a look...
Every week author Maurits Koelewijn talks about the coffee culture and life in his hometown Amsterdam. This week he drank his black coffee at Twentyfiveseven.
Yesterday, I saw an old friend of mine in the supermarket. She was weighing up what to buy. Shall I go for the Golden Delicious or the Elstar apple? Just saying ‘hello’ wouldn’t do any harm, I thought. The supermarket is everything except an embarrassing place to meet people you know. She greeted me friendly. Yes, it was a fine place to run in to someone.
That’s not always the case, of course. A while ago I was sitting butt naked in the hottub of the sauna with my girlfriend, when a woman I knew suddenly appeared. She walked down the stairs, into the hottub and sat next to me. It was only then when she recognized me.
‘Oh, God,’ she said. ‘This is awkward.’
Her husband, who was sitting next to her, tried to save the situation:
‘Why?’ he asked. ‘We’re all naked, right?’
The woman introduced me to her husband.
‘This is Maurits Koelewijn. I once helped him organize a book presentation.’
‘Oh, how nice!’ he giggled.
I introduced my girlfriend to the woman.
And then the long waiting started. Who of us would have the guts to get on that stairs, to go out of the hottub and show their ass to the rest of us?
None of us. All four of us stayed, looking miserable at each other.
Running in to someone you know in the sauna. A little bit embarrassing. And how about a clinic where they test you for STI?
Coffeebar Twentyfiveseven on the other hand is a place where it’s alright to meet someone you know. After all, when you open your laptop here and you drink a good coffee, you show you are independent and you search for quality.
But of course I don’t see any people I know here. I just have a nice conversation with Truus, who lives in the neighborhood as well. She reads my coffee column every week and says she’s going to buy my new book.
This way, Twentyfiveseven is a nice place to meet people after all! And a coffeebar to remember. What a nice place!
Every week author Maurits Koelewijn talks about the coffee culture and life in his hometown Amsterdam. This week he drank his black coffee at café Plantage at the Amsterdam zoo.
It’s Saturday morning, 10 a.m. The sun is still standing low in the spotless, blue sky. It promises to be a sweaty day. It’s time to pay a visit to one of the finest neighborhoods of the city, the Plantage neighborhood.
Two elderly people reading a newspaper are the only ones on the nice terrace of the Plantage at Artis (the Amsterdam zoo). I’m easily distracted by the sound of clattering of white poultry in a big, black cage. Do I see storks in there? I take another good look. No, they are spoonbills. I think. Or aren’t they? I’m consulting Internet.
An average person from Amsterdam doesn’t know anything about animals of course. I use my urban lifestyle as a cover when people ask me surprised:
‘You don’t even know what a Japanese macaque looks like?’
‘No, is that so bad? You know I live in Amsterdam, right? Where would I see such an animal in the city? I’m already pleased when I know the difference between a Saint Bernard and a dachshund.’
My lack of knowledge about animals also came forward ten years ago, I was twenty-four at the time, when I was visiting the Berlin Zoo. I was with my former girlfriend, Jessica, looking at the polar bears and shouted:
‘Look at that polar bear. He’s pacing up and down all the time.’
Jessica looked at me, full of disbelief, and said:
‘You have got to be kidding me.’
‘You didn’t know polar bears did that? Oh my god. Even my dog knows that! That’s really stupid..’
‘Well, did you ever see a polar bear before? How should I know?’
‘You’ve never been to your biology class, have you? Skipped that, didn’t you?
Ah, I found the answer. They are spoonbills, just like I thought they would. I knew it! Ten years ago I would have thought they were marabous, flamingos or pelicans. And when people would have shaken their heads full of pity, I would have used my cover and I would have said:
‘I’m sorry, but I live in the city... Where on earth would I run in to such an animal?!’
Written by: Maurits Koelewijn
Translation: Lisanne Verduijn
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Every Wednesday author Maurits Koelewijn tells about the coffee culture and life in his hometown Amsterdam. This week he drank his black coffee at café Chantilly in the Molukkenstraat.
A few years ago I was living in IJburg (a neighborhood on the east side of Amsterdam) and I had to cycle to the Zuidas (a business district at the south of Amsterdam) for work. It was an ordeal to me when I had to cycle in the winter months, in the dark, over the long Nescio Bridge and I wasn’t seldom blown away from my bicycle by the wind. Once I was at the other side of the bridge, it was barely better. I had to cycle over the gloomy and endless Valentijnkade. I remember the yellow light of the streetlights and the heavy showers and thunderstorms. There was barely a sign of life.
But somewhere halfway the quay there was an old, small man with a funny hat, who was always walking there. And he raised his thumb to everyone who passed him by. All the cyclists answered him by raising their thumbs too. It was like he wanted to tell everyone, no one excluded: you’re doing a good job! Please continue!
Claiming he was the only chink of light in that dreary setting, might be a bit too overdrawn. But he knew how to make everyone smile and made life a bit easier.
The old man with the funny hat is just one of the many beautiful and characteristic people of the east of Amsterdam. Such another beautiful person is now working in the recently opened Café Chantilly. Her name is Chantal, she lives in IJburg and loves to bake cakes and cupcakes. Even her dog, who greets every customer enthusiastically by wagging his tail, is called Brownie. The coffee beans are bought at Lot Sixty One in the Kinkerstraat. For me, one of the finest coffee roasters of the city.
People make your organization, they say. And people make your neighborhood. When new, nice meeting points like Café Chantilly are build, it makes the circle round, doesn’t it? I’d say, thumbs up!
Written by: Maurits Koelewijn
Translation: Lisanne Verduijn
Photographer: Eva Plevier
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