The Craft Coffee Boom
I’m a massive beer nut. I’m one of those guys who is well into the scene of the current craft beer revolution, I talk about pale ales and double IPAs all day. I talk about where beer is from, what hops they use, where the hops are from, the way in which the beer is hopped when brewed. I quite happily spend £5 on a pint when there are others on offer for half the price. I love beer.
Unfortunately for my wallet it looks as if coffee is going the same route. I’ve noticed over the past few years in England the boom in independent coffee shops popping up selling brews with different types of beans from all over the world. Much the same as when I got into craft beer I was confused at first but I’m starting to now get a grasp on this craft coffee thing and I’m really starting to like it. There’s one place in particular that is leading by example and they seem to have the craft coffee movement sussed out.
On a recent adventure to Berlin with the web magazine we had of course mapped out a variety of coffee shops to try out during our visit. We were even more impressed to find out that in the immediate area to our accommodation there was an endless supply of quirky, independent establishments serving absolutely brilliant coffee.
One of those places on our list was a small coffee shop called The Barn. A short 15 minute walk lead us to a quiet street in Mitte to a small but vibrant and busy coffee shop with a variety of stools used as stools and stools used as tables outside. The decor was down to it’s roots, with exposed brickwork, neat wooden paneling, and three simple service points. A sandwich/sweets display, a till operated by an iPad and a coffee preparation area. The coffee was as good as it gets and that first cup of coffee in my first Berlin coffee shop was the best of the whole trip. The Barn opened in 2010 and is now central to the coffee growing community in Berlin. Each coffee is made to order with not just freshly ground beans but freshly roasted too. Beans change throughout the year depending on season and each coffee is meticulously tested to find out which brew method is best whether it be by their Hario V60 ceramic drippers, AeroPress or Syphon Vaccum Coffee Maker. The attention to detail dare I say may be even more acute than that of the craft beer scene.
Then there is The Barn Roastery. We stumbled across this by accident as we were wondering around waiting for a nearby restaurant to open. Not knowing that there was another Barn in the city how could we not go for yet another coffee. The Barn Roastery on Schönhauser Allee opened in September 2012 and not only operates as a bigger brother to The Barn on Auguststraße but also as a roastery sourcing some of the best coffees in the world. Working with sustainability and traceability in mind they buy from micro-farms (similar to micro-breweries) where they can deal as directly with the grower as possible, avoiding the merchants in between in the often lengthy trail and mess of purchasing coffee from larger growers. It’s like taking fair-trade to the next level. They roast all their beans on site to bring out their full flavour profile using an overhauled 1955 Probat Roast Machine. The Roastery is a simple place, simple menu with amazing coffee, simple but elegant decor, a no laptop rule and it’s not rare to see strangers sharing tables and conversations during busier periods. Distractions are kept to a minimum for you to enjoy the one thing you are there for most, the coffee.
This craft coffee boom is happening all over the world. It’s not just a fad of people trying to be different in the way they do things, it’s about making the best possible coffee you have ever tasted. It’s about paying the people who grow the coffee as much as possible and to get them to be recognised for their achievements. It’s about building relationships with everyone from the grower to the consumer and ensuring that everyone is happy along the way. The way I see it, even more care and attention goes into this craft coffee scene than into the craft beer scene. And I’m a huge fan of that beer scene.
Next time you go for coffee, why not look up your closest independent cafe that brews coffee for you, just how you want it. Not for the millions of other people who attend the chains every day.