Functioning as a Cafe by day and Bar by night, Sofia is owned by Hanno Schilf, a German film actor. He prepares me a deliciously bitter coffee and gifts it with a fresh croissant. Hanno smiles as explains that croissants are on the house after 6pm. Over a decade old, this spot has become custom for many locals who crowd in on Wednesday evenings, filling the space with smoke and creative conversation. Flamingos garnish the windows, tin foil embellishes the ceiling, stone engravings cover the walls and messages of climate change hang from the ceiling.
This place has been curated in a way that is particularly personal to Hanno, and his warm energy leaps around leaving everyone buzzing and cheery. Feeling extremely comfortable, I stay for a few hours; sampling Germany’s most delicious beers. Frankly, it’s worth coming in even just to have a look at the charismatic bathrooms, so filled with randomness that it becomes difficult to describe. This astonished me, as before walking in, I was simply searching for a quick caffeine fix and was not particularly entrapped by the grimy outward appearance.
The workers of the shop are so mingled with the crowd that it is almost hard to know who they are. Fortunately, the service is still incredible. Outside, there are two relentlessly competitive games of chess going on. A homeless man strolls passed and decides to sit himself down on one of the tables. I watch Hanno walk outside, fluffy croissant in hand, and softly nod as he hands it over to the man, who smiles and leaves shortly after.
Words by Shanti
Location: Wrangelstraße 93, 10997 Berlin
Transport: U-Bahn Schlesisches Tor
Nearby: Burgermeister, Overkill (street art and clothes shop)
The Treetop Travel Journalism programme
We run 3-4 week travel writing projects. These culminate in the publication of our students work, with each travel guide receiving a unique ISBn number.