A brief semi-serious and a bit stereotypical guide of mine about the main categories of Berliner cafés. Hope you'll enjoy ;)
GEOGRAPHY: Alexander- & Potsdamerplatz, Unter den Linden, Hackescher Markt and all around Mitte & Ku'Damm.
DEMOGRAPHICS: 18 to 35 clueless & loud tourists of mixed ethnicity from American to Chinese (and lots of Italians, sadly).
DESIGN: nondescript international interiors, like a hotel bar.
SOUNDTRACK: commercial junk from Rihanna to Macklemore.
SPECIALITY: fake German & Tex-Mex food.
WORTH FOR: nothing except if you like the feeling of being ripped off in a pesky international environment that could be found anywhere from Taipei to Los Angeles.
HIPSTER (OR ANTI-HIPSTER) YOUNGISH AND COOLISH INDEPENDENT CAFÉS
GEOGRAPHY: Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg and increasingly in Wedding, Schöneberg and Moabit.
DEMOGRAPHICS: 18 to 35 mostly white and definitely Western (or at least westernized)
DESIGN: either vintage second-hand furniture from the flea-market or minimalistic interiors from ikea or amazon.
SOUNDTRACK: anything from silence to new-age to hip-hop.
SPECIALITY: bio-carrots-cake and organic chai-latte.
WORTH FOR: no matter whether you love or hate them, no matter what's your stance on gentrification, these places have been a growing interesting reality for the past couple of decades and the trend shows no sign of abating; so just pop-in a few of them either to get an impression of how creativity can be serialised or simply to get a mug full of an indefinable organic stuff and enjoy the vaguely intellectual and questionably arty atmosphere.
ETHNIC MINORITY CAFÉS
(not ethnic cafés, which are way different and rather belong to the category above)
GEOGRAPHY: Everywhere, but mostly working-class ethnically-mixed neighbourhoods in West Berlin (Neukölln, Wedding & Moabit in particular).
DEMOGRAPHICS: 18 to 80 (and possibly older) non-Western or rather non-Westernised members of any ethnic minority in town, mainly Turkish, Lebanese, Polish, Bulgarian & Yugoslavs.
DESIGN: cheap furniture, lots of fake leather, kitschy goldy decor, neon lights, mirrors and slot machines.
SOUNDTRACK: local tunes and endless litanies.
SPECIALITY: it depends from the ethnicity but generally Raki, Vodka or apple tea.
WORTH FOR: every (temporary) Berliner speaks (more or less enthusiastically) of multiculturalism but how many do really experience it beside getting a döner at the closest Mustafa's, spring rolls at Xuen's or a cheap booze in a Pakishop? Come inside these smoky, apparently intimidating but actually quite friendly places and you'll be in contact with more foreign cultures, traditions and languages than you ever dared to imagine.
KAFFEE & KUCHEN CAFÉS
(formal coffee shops and tearooms)
GEOGRAPHY: Steglitz, Charlottenburg, Dahlem, Wannsee and Southwestern Berlin in general.
DEMOGRAPHICS: 50+ & families, almost entirely white and overwhelmingly German.
DESIGN: classy or rather classical (and boring) interiors.
SOUNDTRACK: soft tunes.
SPECIALITY: a slice of homemade cake and a cup of tea.
WORTH FOR: a taste of old world charm.
(German corner pubs)
GEOGRAPHY: Everywhere but mostly working-class neighbourhoods in West Berlin.
DEMOGRAPHICS: 45+, Germans, no exception.
DESIGN: cheap and rustic, lots of wood and doilies, slot machines and darts.
SOUNDTRACK: none, music is for pussies.
SPECIALITY: a pint of Schultheiss & pretzel sticks.
WORTH FOR: sipping a bitter beer and smoking strong cigarettes while being surrounded, scrutinized and silently judged by the original Berliners.