Winter’s come down hard, but a warm authentic Estonian drink at Jää-äär guarantees to warm you up.
Stepping up to fill our Glühwein-shaped void is Jää-äär, a new cafe near Mauerpark in Wedding from a country that knows all about winter: Estonia. Originally attracted to Berlin by a start-up, Kristi Daniel is clearly proud of her Heimat. From the unusual name (meaning “edge of the ice” in Estonian), to the graphic sign and cushions based on a folk dress pattern, to the contemporary artwork hanging by the triangular fireplace, the cafe goes for an all-things-Estonian vibe.
The house special, Vana Tallinn Coffee (€4.50), introduces Berliners to the dark brown rum-based liqueur in a soul-warming coffee concoction. You can also sample Vana Tallinn straight up or in a cream version reminiscent of eggnog while eating an open-faced sandwich (€2.50), either with salmon and avocado or the Estonian variation, a Kiluleib: sardines, Frischkäse and hard-boiled egg on a hearty slice of dark bread. For those preferring something sweet, there are a variety of homemade cakes and brownies (€2.20-3.20).
Jää-äär is even presidentially endorsed! Responding to a tweet from Daniel, Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves stopped by the cafe and immediately tweeted his approval of the first Estonian establishment in Berlin. German police closed off the entire street for his visit, as they considered a president in Wedding to be high-risk. So why open a cafe there? Daniel simply responded, “Wedding kommt.” As does the hideous January weather… but this time, we’re ready for it.
Jää-äär, Brunnenstr. 56, Wedding, U-Bhf Bernauer Str., Tue-Fri 9-22, Sat-Sun 10-22
Originally published in issue #123, January 2014.