A Good Cup: Mezičasy Cafe
Mezičasy Cafe cooperates with next door neighbors Život 90, an organization dedicated to making the lives better of Prague’s elderly citizens. The provide various services for the elderly and focus on improving their quality of life, so no person has to be ashamed of their age. Residents over the age of 65 make up about 15% of the country’s population and are covered under the national insurance free of charge. However, state-funded nursing homes and programs for long-term care are widely-regarded to be unpleasant and often suffer from insufficient capacity, with waiting lists reaching into the tens of thousands. Život 90 aims to solve this problem by offering free care for the elderly to keep them as comfortable as possible in their own homes.
Tucked away in a maze of winding streets in Old Town, Mezičasy Cafe serves coffee with a smile and a story.
Located in the building where author Karolina Světlá grew up, the café is a warm and welcoming space, with tiny cacti in espresso cups decorating the tables and charming glass bottles filled with plants lining the walls.
In the first room an espresso bar invites you to have a quick cup and go, but keep going and you’ll find a cozy room to slowly savor your coffee, appreciating the cobble-stoned streets through the lovely arched windows.
The café boasts freshly baked cakes and pastries and daily made sandwiches with all fresh ingredients. Plus, there’s an ever-changing daily soup menu and a selection of wines and local beer.
But the real story here is the coffee, and the non-profit it supports.
“We know exactly who harvested, picked and washed it, from every farmer to every delivery guy,” says Jakub Seiner, Head Barista and PR Director for Mezičasy. “We know exactly what we are roasting and drinking.”
Mezičasy’s roastery, Beansmith’s Specialty Coffee, is deeply connected to the raw nature of the bean. They select their coffee from mountainous environments for the best, mature flavors. Everything is hand-picked – no machinery taints the beans – and they roast it themselves at an old forge. Brand new machines at the café finish out the process and provide the perfect cup of coffee.
“We want to not only serve amazing specialty coffee, but also the story behind the beans,” says Seiner. “Right now we serve brand new coffee from Ethiopia. It’s not just coffee, not just brown beans – we approach it like you would a good wine or craft beer, sharing the story of the hard work behind it.”
Seiner, who’s headed to the Barista of the Year competition this month, is Mezičasy’s coffee guru, training the baristas to care intensely about the specialty coffee they serve and the customers who enjoy it.
“Our baristas are more trained than other cafés, we serve the best coffee we possibly can,” says Seiner. “We focus on the flavors and the service.”
The result is a small team of baristas dedicated to creating the best coffee experience, not only caring about the story the coffee tells but also about making customers feel welcome. This has been a bit of a challenge, as Prague is not known for its friendly service and those who lived through the communism era are often wary of small talk. Mezičasy’s baristas want to make a connection with everyone who comes in, not just mindlessly serve them an impersonal cup of coffee.
“You have to love coffee, then you can work on it and make it more visible and enjoyable for others,” says Seiner. “When you see the smiles when customers taste your latte, it warms up their heart, and yours.”
About a year ago, Beansmith’s found this space next to the organization Život 90, which supports Prague’s elderly community, and realized the café and non-profit are a perfect fit – the café can share the stories of not only the coffee workers but also Prague’s elderly, helping both. The café fully opened in the fall, with “specialty coffee and a social purpose.”
Since the 90s, Život 90 has helped Prague’s elderly live better lives. They provide therapists, counseling on social and legal matters, and services 24/7 with an emergency call line. Volunteers support the elderly in their homes, helping them run the household, get food, and keep up with hygiene. This way the elderly can remain as independent as possible and continue to live in their own homes, instead of having to move to an unfamiliar place.
Profits from Mezičasy help Život 90 host events, such as lectures, discussions and singing sessions. Recently the organization filled multiple floors with a special Christmas Market. Profits from the café also go towards providing healthcare and other necessities.
The charming café attracts all ages, from supporters of Život 90 to those looking for a cozy spot to enjoy an amazing coffee. For Život 90, Mezičasy is a daily way to help people by spreading happiness.
“A cup of coffee is a small part of your day you can share with your loved ones,” says Seiner. “They will remember those small moments forever.”
Visit Mezičasy Cafe M-F 8:00-21:00, Saturday 9:00-21:00, and Sunday 9:00-18:00 at Betlémská 5 and check out their instagram at mezicasycafe.