Café of the Week: Café Čokl, Ljubljana

By , 22 Mar 2018, 11:54 AM Lifestyle
It's rather small inside, but very nice It's rather small inside, but very nice JL Flanner

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Fairtrade and excellent coffee, ideally positioned for a trip to or from the Castle. 

March 22, 2018

Ljubljana has no shortage of cafés, and many good ones too, with most being able to make a competent espresso, cappuccino and so on. But some places are jacks of all trades, offering a long menu of drinks and snacks; ideal for when you’re in a party with a large number of tastes to accommodate, less so when you want one thing done as best as can be.

It’s here we turn to what makes Čokl and a few cafés in town so interesting. Instead of adopting a Swiss Army Knife approach these do coffee and little else, thus attracting loyal customers who want the best from their beans, as well as travellers who do their research online and want to try something special whenever they can.

The menu is a small book that alternates Slovene and English, and you’ll search in vain for Laško, Union, Coca Cola, or even decaf, which is something close to blasphemy in these parts, like non-alcoholic wine or porkless pigs – why bother?

Instead you get Fairtrade coffee beans roasted by Buna, an affiliated cooperative, and presented using six different brewing methods, Chemex, Aeropress, Canadiano, Turkish, Cascara, and cold brew, in addition to the regular espresso machine. The prices are as good as the coffee too, at 1.2 euros for espresso, 1.7 for cappuccino and 2 for a coffee with milk (bela kava).


From Čokl's Instagram

 And it’s not just the coffee that’s fairtrade, as the cane sugar, mascobado and cocoa for the chocolate drinks are also ethically sourced. Moreover, the place operates on a low / zero waste basis. In practice this means you can’t get a drink to go unless you bring your own mug, although if you take your drink away then you’ll miss out on the ambiance of the place, both inside and out, which is something you should savour along with your drink. The coffee beans can also be bought to go, as long as you bring your own container, and if you fall in love with a Chemex or Aeropress these can also be purchased in store, along with other items.

In addition to coffee and cocoa there are some teas on the menu and short list of non-alcoholic drinks, none of which contain artificial colours or aromas, or excessive amounts of sugar. There’s also some local wines and spirits, and two kinds of Human Fish beer on tap.

This beer is said to taste better than elsewhere because, I was told, the pipes are shorter. Whatever the truth of that statement the beer tasted good, meaning that Čokl works well as an evening place in addition to one for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up, with the hours running from 07:00 to 23:00 on weekdays, from 09:00 at the weekend, and closing at 20:00 on Sundays.


From Čokl's Instagram

 With the focus on high quality drinks there’s no food at Čokl, although there is a Žita bakery just around the corner where you could buy a croissant or pastry, and which I’ve seen customers enjoy without incident.

While sitting outside is recommended whenever the weather permits, as you get watch a great parade of people from all over the world walking to and from the funicular to the Castle, the inside of Čokl is snug and very comfortable. Decorated in warm, worn wood, with a few high tables and stools, along with comfortable footrests. Here you’ll find baristas both knowledgeable and friendly, who’ll happily explain any of the items on the menu.

One thing to note is that the bathrooms are downstairs, in the basement, and thus Čokl, like far too many places in Ljubljana, could do better with regard to wheelchair access, although given the design of the space it’s hard to see how this situation could be improved.


Turkish coffee, from Čokl's Instagram

 The café is at Krekov trg 8, and is a small place with a green door, set between the restaurant Vodnikov Hram and the café bar Daktari. Nearby you’ll find the Puppet Theatre and central market, as well as the aforementioned funicular, although if you’re able to I recommend skipping that and walking up one of the many paths to the city’s main attraction, with the nearest being just around the corner. Turn left out of Čokl, turn left again at the road (the corner with Vodnikov Hram, a good place for game and Slovenian food), and then left again and follow the hill up. It’s steep, but not far to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with some great views and decent exercise.

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