Coffee, craft beer and ‘chillig’: How to be a Berlin Hipster

Coffee, craft beer and ‘chillig’: How to be a Berlin Hipster

by Leona Quigley

Updated April 28, 2023

You will often hear that Berlin is a mecca for hipsters. With a thriving alternative scene, booming nightlife and a long reputation for attracting  artists and Bohemian types, you can understand why. Let’s be frank, Berlin is just cool. And it draws people who think they are too.

But in a city full of hipsters, you have to pull out all the stops to fit in with Berlin’s particular subspecies of hipster (Genus Berlinicus). This is a hipster with such an exalted sense of their own alternative free-spirited lifestyle, that they put all other hipsters to shame. If you are ready to reject anything “mainstream” and lean heavily into your own pretensions, here is our (completely serious) guide to fitting in with the hipsters of Berlin.

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The Berlin hipster look

The “look” is no easy thing to accomplish. The Berlin hipster typically spends upwards of 30 hours a week thrift shopping and/or perusing the shelves of Prenzlauer Berg’s chicest boutiques. It’s their only hobby.

The Berlin hipster is very vocal about their hatred of fast fashion and big brands. Except for vintage Adidas, of course. They would sell their firstborn child for a brightly colored pair of 1980s tracksuit pants.

Contrary to popular belief, the Berlin hipster does not just wear black. While the black leather trench coat with dark sunglasses is no doubt a staple look, excessively white sneakers and clothes that make you look a little like a middle-aged dad on a hiking trip are also quintessential Berlin hipster.

To complete the Berlin hipster look you will need a mullet or a similarly ironic “so bad it’s good” hairdo. Something that simultaneously looks like you cut it yourself in the bathroom mirror but also cost a bomb, having been coiffured by a professional hairdresser.

Berlin hipster cuisine

Being a true Berlin hipster means you have not had water since you arrived in the city. Your only beverage is Club-Mate

You trust only three cafes in town to make your coffee. Everything else is swill. Your espresso costs €6. But you know that if one pays less they’ll “never taste the delicate floral notes of an Ecuadorian pour-over brewed by a master of their craft.” You often wonder why your coffee dates don’t go well.

Putting milk in coffee is a minor sin, but might be forgiven if it is Hafermilch (oat milk). Dairy is sacrilege. Thus, vegan banana bread is an acceptable accompaniment to that coffee. It was de rigueur in Berlin well before Covid.

As for dinner, German cuisine naturally won’t do. Instead, the Berlin hipster opts for “the new Asian fusion restaurant that’s really authentic that you’ve probably never heard of.” There, they will demonstrate their mastery of chopsticks and “impeccable” pronunciation of the dish names, much to the dismay of a waiter whose language they are butchering.

Things to do as a Berlin hipster

As a Berlin hipster, you can often be found ostentatiously reading works of classic literature on the S-Bahn or in Mauerpark. You might get more reading done if you spend less time checking if anyone has noticed your exceptional taste in literature.

The Berlin hipster will be present at every protest and march relating to social justice causes, where they will be meticulously documenting every moment of their social activism for Instagram, to be later paired with a suitably profound caption.

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Berlin hipster nightlife

As a real Berlin hipster, you  speak with great authority on how to get into Berghain and you complain about how poor the sound system in other clubs. Of course, you’ve never actually gotten into Berghain. The bouncer booted you to the curb as fast as you can say “heute leider nicht”. But you’ll get in next time for sure.

On any given evening, Hipster Berlinicus is easily identified. They can be found in a local shabby-chic, rustically furnished craft beer microbrewery. Perched on a wooden crate, drinking an IPA (India Pale Ale), with head immersed in a Macbook. Presumably writing something profound.

The Berlin hipster is likely a DJ, and everyone must know it. They definitely could have made it big but didn’t want to “sell out” and compromise their “art”. They’re also a software engineer for Amazon but that’s one thing they will want to keep on the hush. How else would they afford their coffee and craft beer habits?

Hipster neighborhoods of Berlin

You will often hear Berlin hipsters complain about tourists and how Berlin is being gentrified. Even when they’ve only lived here for three months and live alone in an apartment that is as large as it is pricey.

Berlin hipsters tend to migrate towards the east of the city around Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain or Prenzlauer Berg, if they can find a flat. Even if they can’t, they may tell everyone it’s in Friedrichshain because that’s the cooler neighborhood to be in. (But in reality, they’re place is over the border in Lichtenberg.)

‘Chillig’ (chilled out)

Of course, we joke about the Berlin hipster, who’s so laid back they’re horizontal, but these are of course just stereotypes. Berlin is famous for its diversity and while you certainly come across some people who fit the mold, every Berliner (even the ones who dress pretentiously, drink too much craft beer, and are particular about their coffee) has their own individual place and community in the city.

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Leona Quigley

Leona has her roots in the South of Ireland, where she grew up on her family farm. She went on to study World Politics at Leiden University College, The Hague and then completed her MPhil in International History at Trinity College Dublin. Leona has now settled in Berlin, having fallen in love with the city. In her spare time she is working on perfecting her German in anticipation of her doctoral studies, during which she plans to study modern German social history. Her hobbies include bouldering, dancing and reading a healthy mix of history books and corny fantasy fiction. You can find more info about her on LinkedIn.

Leona Quigley

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