Carla Ohio another fine coffee hangout in Kaiserslautern
Considering how bustling the Kaffeeroesterei is, it stands to reason that Kaiserslautern has room for another establishment dedicated to fine coffee.
Carla Ohio Coffee and Things is trying to fill that niche.
The cafe opened in February at the opposite end of the pedestrian zone from the Kaffeeroesterei.
It occupies a spacious corner storefront in what was once a toy store. Inside has a utilitarian feel, with an assortment of functional wooden tables and hardback chairs that look like they’ve been plucked from a classroom. There’s not a pillow to be seen; the bench seating that runs the length of the floor-to-ceiling windows is cushioned with mats as plush as computer mouse pads.
But as the cafe owner told me — she asked not to be named, wishing to be as mysterious as the meaning behind the cafe’s unusual name — she wanted a place with a “simple, minimalistic style,” free of clutter so “you can free your mind.”
“The people, the food, and the products are the things that make this alive,” she said, revealing that she’s an interior design student with a passion for food and good coffee, and giving people a place to meet over both.
The cafe’s focus is on specialty coffee from Brazil, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, for retail and consumption in the cafe.
The beans are bought directly from the coffee farmers and roasted locally.
There are no menus lying around the cafe. You order at the front counter, find a seat and wait for your food or drink.
The cappuccino I ordered looked perfect, etched with leaf art in the frothy milk, a skill I have yet to master at home.
The coffee drink was enjoyable — a notch above the ubiquitous Barbarossa coffee seemingly everywhere in Kaiserslautern — but it didn’t quite match the strength and flavor of Kaffeeroesterei. I’d like to think that it’s still a work in progress.
But the lunch: I almost jumped from my seat to do a little happy tap dance, it was so good. Called a “lunch bowl,” it was an amazing salad of fresh spinach leaves and cooked buckwheat layered with diced avocado, cucumber and red bell pepper. It was topped with kimchi, sesame seeds, walnut pieces and crumbled feta cheese and drizzled with olive oil. It came with a side of fresh cilantro, mint and green onion for you to add to the salad, and two lemon wedges for more drizzling. Who would have thought “clean eating” could be so delicious?
At 11 euros, the lunch bowl isn’t cheap, but it’s a generous portion made to order: You can see the vegetables being chopped and assembled in the kitchen area behind the coffee bar.
It’s the only lunch item available at the cafe for the time being; the lunch offering changes about every few months.
If you’re looking for a healthy lunch option and want to support a local entrepreneur who in turn supports specialty coffee growers, check out Carla Ohio Coffee and Things.
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Directions: The cafe is located on the pedestrian zone in downtown Kaiserslautern at Pirmasener Str. 5. It’s on the corner across from the Con Rad bicycle shop. Look for parking in nearby side streets or in one of several nearby parking garages.
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Evening hours might be extended in the summertime.
Food: Mostly drinks, including coffee, tea, beer and wine. Breakfast and lunch bowls also available. Lunch bowl, currently a big salad of fresh vegetables and kimchi, switches out every few months.
Prices: Cappuccinos are 3 euros and lattes are 4 euros; tea is 3 euros and wine is 4 euros a glass. Lunch bowl is 11 euros.
Attire: Come as you are.