I have a friend who loves coffee. She has the knowledge, but also an amazing talent to find the best coffee place around. It was actually her who introduced me to Mint Vinetu and others of my now favourite coffee places in Vilnius – most of them I wrote about in this article. Some years ago she moved abroad, and in addition to being sad about not seeing her often enough, I was also very sad about losing her as my Vilnius coffee scene guide. But talent is a talent, and you don’t lose it just because you have moved a couple of thousand kilometers south. She continued holding her hand on the coffee pulse.
Some months ago I got an email saying: “Have you been to the Backstage Cafe yet? It is a place I would love to visit, but for now maybe you could.” So I did, and I loved it, and I decided to speak with the Backstage Cafe team Ieva, Vytenis and Robertas to know a bit more about this place. And before giving the word to them, I raise my cup of espresso to my friend – without you this blog would have not been what it is now.
Table of Contents
- 1 How did you think of opening a cafe in Vilnius?
- 2 What makes Backstage Cafe different from other cafes in Vilnius?
- 3 What does the Backstage Cafe look and feel?
- 4 Coffee and food in Backstage Cafe Vilnius
- 5 The customers of Backstage Cafe
- 6 What is the best place for coffee in Vilnius?
- 7 What are your plans for Backstage Cafe in the future?
How did you think of opening a cafe in Vilnius?
Ieva and Vytenis used to have their home and photography studio in this place before. Many people came here and waited in the backstage, talked to us, worked on something. We retained many elements of the studio and the name Backstage cafe came very naturally.
The idea was that people come here to us to talk and rest from their daily work and routine. So we started with creating the cafe and the coffee naturally came along. We started learning about it and found it facsinating.
Our initial idea was a cafe in Barcelona, but we had our home here. So we decided to give it a try in Vilnius.
What makes Backstage Cafe different from other cafes in Vilnius?
Many people say that they feel at home here. We create the environment for ourselves. It is not a kind of canteen where you come in, take your coffee, drink it and leave. Here you can talk to the barista.
We like coffee, and we like talking about it. Our clients come here to discuss different things. Some come to talk to us about music, others – about photography.
Why are you visiting a cafe? Sometimes people just want to find a corner to hide in and work there all day uninterrupted. But sometimes they come to a cafe to meet people and communicate. We want Backstage Cafe to be a kind of meeting place.
But we also a floor upstairs, where you can sit and work in piece, or discuss some private matters. We are located in a block of flats, so this contributes to this home atmosphere. The neighbours come here for a cup of coffee, meet other neighbours and make new friends.
Maybe it is because it feels like home. In other places people do their job, but we spend our time here because we really like it. And it is obvious from the place that we like it.
What does the Backstage Cafe look and feel?
It is a mix of ideas from all the three of us. To avoid the mess and to put all those ideas in a nice order we hired a designer, but generally you can still recognise our home here. The kitchen is where it used to be, and sometimes it feels like we still live here and have many guests.
We used to travel around Asia and lived in Spain for a while, so we brought many ideas from abroad. Our interior is alive and changes constantly. Just like in any home, the things are moving, relocating. Backstage does not have a finished rigid shape.
Our dog Bakara became a kind of symbol of Backstage on accident, but now many people refer to us as “that cafe with a dog”. He loves people, but sometimes gets too excited.
Coffee and food in Backstage Cafe Vilnius
We find it exciting to educate our visitors about the subject of coffee. Many people think that coffee is just that: black, bitter or with milk. But just like the food, it can have many tastes and be prepared in many different ways. For the coffee to taste good it needs to be fresh and good quality.
When you come here first time, we would recommend you to taste an espresso. If you like it – it is a base for everything else. If you don’t – well, you say you liked it anyway and never come back.
The food is important too. We do have some cakes to have with the coffee of course, but sometimes you work long hours and need to eat something. That’s why we also have bagels. Our neighbours come in when they have no time to cook themselves, so it’s great to offer something to eat.
The customers of Backstage Cafe
Our visitors are very different people. We don’t have any limitations, and our customers are all people who drink coffee. That means almost all of the people. And for those who don’t like coffee, we always have some tea, juice or lemonade.
The majority are working people between 20 and 40 years old. Most of them come here to stay, but we also offer take away.
Our neighbours come. The workers from the nearby factory come here every morning at 9.15 am and always order the same black coffee with sugar. Once they had a meeting with a jeweler from another part of Vilnius. They told him they cannot meet earlier, because they have their coffee at this time. So he had to come to meet them here.
Our first customers were coffee-lovers. The world is small, and Vilnius even smaller. All the photographers know each other and all the coffee-specialists know about each other.
Usually people find us through social media. Often they even call us and ask, if they can’t find us. It’s not that easy!
What is the best place for coffee in Vilnius?
Anywhere! Every time we see some new place, we go there. We really like Taste Map and Brew Kavos Virejai. And Strange Love of course – our coffee is from there, before we start roasting our own.
Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories are good for some rare specialty coffees. And how can you forget Caffeine? We grew up with it, so a coffee with a berry cheese cake from there is a classic.
The most important thing is to have an identity. It doesn’t matter that much, what identity it is exactly. When we travel or go for a coffee in Vilnius, we look for a person to talk to. Not an institution, but a human.
Sometimes you are walking past a coffee shop and see that someone else is working there, not the person you are used to. And you just walk on, thinking: “Hey, I didn’t want a coffee that much.”
What are your plans for Backstage Cafe in the future?
This place will not only be a cafe. It should be a cultural point, where events will take place: seminars, trainings, exhibitions. We love music, and we are definitely planning to have a lot of music here. This loft is perfect transitional space: yesterday it was a home, today – a cafe, but you never know what it will develop into tomorrow.
You can find Backstage Cafe Vilnius on Facebook or just visit them for a chat and a coffee at T.Sevcenkos 16h-9, Vilnius.