Café culture in Europe, and specifically in Prague, is extremely prominent. Walking throughout the city streets, you are bound to see at least one as you turn every corner. I’ve realized that Czechs take café culture, and their coffee for that matter, very seriously. I love how each café has its own vibe and personality.
As an American student trying to pose as a Prague local for the semester, I have learned a few things from café-hopping after only three weeks of living here.
The Logistics of Café Culture in Prague
When studying abroad in Prague, if you’re like me, the simple logistics of actually entering a restaurant or café will stress you out. This is because every café handles their operations differently. Some cafés have you order at the front, get your drink at the front, and then sit. Some bring the drink to you. Others seat you first and then your order is taken at a table. So much to think about! I recommend you just ask upon entering the café.
Also, café culture in Prague typically entails paying at the front at the register before leaving rather than bringing a check over to you at your table. I really like this when going with a big group! It makes splitting up the items so much easier.
Pro-tip: When tipping a server in the Czech Republic, the standard here is around 10% or simply rounding up. For example, if your bill was 52 Kč, you could round up to 55 Kč or 60 Kč.
Cafés Take Pride in their Creations
I used to think Starbucks had it all, but boy was I wrong. You can tell that the employees at café establishments in Prague truly take pride in the creations they are serving you. If you order a cappuccino, or any dark-colored drink with foam for that matter, there will probably be an amazing little shape incorporated into the foam. Most frequently, I have gotten creations of leaves or hearts.
Slow-Paced Culture is Good Sometimes
Try sitting down with just coffee. That means no phone, no laptop, no book. Just for a little while. I do not think I had ever done it before I came to Prague, because my life has always been quite fast-paced; I had gotten so used to the living style of “go, go, go.” But, since studying abroad here, I’ve realized the importance of focusing just on the world around me with no distractions. So far, Prague’s café culture has definitely helped me reach a goal I have set for myself: to be more mindful and in the moment. I’ve learned that sitting next to the window with a warm cappuccino in my defrosting hands (yes, Prague’s weather is cold at the beginning of Spring semester), looking out at the city, and realizing how lucky I am to be here is one of my new favorite pastimes. I admire the way people in Prague will sit down for hours and hours with one drink, in no rush at all. Choosing to visit a café with a friend is just as exciting. Enjoy each other’s company — and the coffee, of course.
Order in the Czech Language
Even if you only know a little bit of the Czech language, give ordering a try! Most of the time, locals will really appreciate it. Don’t worry about feeling silly or embarrassed — they love to hear you give it a go! Plus, so many people in Prague actually speak at least a little bit of English. The best is when you get a cashier who encourages you on as you order. If you are able to order all in Czech, they may just mistake you for a local yourself! “Dam si čapučino, prosim.” Score!
Try Something New Every Time
Although it may be scary to reach out of your comfort zone and take that big step of ordering a new type of coffee (or hot chocolate if you’re a fan — it’s so rich here!), do it. All of the coffee and espresso blends are so yummy here in Prague. You’ll never know if you like something unless you try. Trying new things on the menu makes café-hopping lots of fun!