Coffee and Crumbs

It turns out that that vacant lot wasn’t the only disappearance in the air on that last trip to Galleries Lafayette. Today, I took advantage of the WM opening hours to go replace my coffee on a Sunday, only to find out that the Malongo boutique in Gal Laf is closing, and has sold out all its coffee; only tea remains.

This is a shame. One thing about the food floor at Gal Laf is that you can bet you’re paying about 30% more than you would anywhere else for most items, but some of what they have is unique in Berlin. Thus with whole-bean Malongo coffee. Malongo isn’t hard to find in France in supermarkets — but only in ground form, and never in single-bean varieties. If Malongo’s pulling out of Gal Laf is a store-wide event, then it’s tragic; this is the best whole bean coffee I’ve ever had, better than what I used to get at Whole Foods. Cheaper, too; cheaper than any other whole-bean coffee I’ve found in this city.

And there’s the problem of what to do next. I satisfied myself with a bag of Gold Coast from Starbuck’s, but that’s not going to be a regular thing. I have nothing against Starbuck’s, actually, at least not here, where they’re far from ubiquitous and don’t, to the best of my knowledge, engage in the sleazy real-estate moves they’ve used in the States to get rid of established businesses that might compete with them. But they’re way more expensive than Malongo, and not as good.

I guess it’s time to start exploring some of their competition. I used to occasionally buy from Einstein, but they seem to discourage their workers from enjoying their product, or else they’re selling hash under the counter, because all the service I ever encountered there was lethargic and stoned-seeming. There’s a Balzac shop not far from me on Friedrichstr., so when what I’ve got runs out, I’ll see if I can put together a decent blend from what they sell.

Ms. Choi, the Korean woman who works at Malongo and really knows her beans, said there’s a place over on Uhlandstr. somewhere “which also sells herbs” and that’s the only place in the city she recommends. I’ve got a transit pass these days which I’m not using to its full extent; maybe I’ll whip over to the west and see what she’s talking about. But I’m going to miss this ritual of walking down Friedrichstr. every couple of weeks.

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Walking back, I took another look at that vacant lot, and now there’s a sign up announcing that the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Center, a university library and media center, will rise there soon, and there’s a nice architectural watercolor of the white glass-clad building.

It occurred to me that, for most people in the English-speaking world, the Brothers Grimm means fairy tales, while Germans invariably think of dictionaries, for it was these two brothers who compiled the first dictionary of the German language, the Deutsches W

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