In less than a month, the international coffee community will gather for this year’s World of Coffee in Berlin.
SUSIE KEALY recounts a recent press event hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association at The BARN’s Café Kranzler in advance of Europe’s biggest coffee event.
Hosted in the Messe Convention Center in the west of the German Capital, this year’s event will play host to four different international coffee competitions, three exhibition halls, two large Roasters Villages, four Design Lab showcases, the largest-ever range of lectures, and more. To better connect with the local community, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) hosted a public press event on May 9 at the historic Café Kranzler featuring a panel of local coffee experts and champions to discuss current coffee affairs and Berlin’s role as this year’s World of Coffee host city.
The eye-catching building was a fitting location for the event – first built as a coffeehouse, it has only recently reopened to fulfill its original purpose under the watchful eye of internationally recognized Berlin-based coffee roastery, The BARN. “Café Kranzler is the most recognized coffeehouse in Berlin,” explains The BARN in descriptions of the space. “With its unique architecture and distinct striped canopy, it has become a landmark in West Berlin. Many were waiting for Café Kranzler to wake up from its beauty sleep and bring back its international reputation for quality coffee.” It has slowly become a newly-realized landmark and hotspot for specialty coffee in west Berlin, mixing old and new concepts.
Café Kranzler was a fitting location for the event – first built as a coffeehouse, it has only recently reopened to fulfill its original purpose under the watchful eye of internationally recognized Berlin-based coffee roastery, The BARN.
Photo: Susie Kealy.
Following a welcome drink from the hosts, the event began with a panel discussion run by SCA Chapter Manager Richard Stiller. Sitting on the panel were several well-known faces from different Berlin coffee shops and roasteries. First to introduce themselves was the owner of The BARN Coffee Roastery, Ralf Rueller. The BARN now has several cafes around Berlin serving specialty coffee in addition to their many international wholesale accounts. The second to be introduced was Nora Smahelová. The owner of Chapter One Coffee, a small shop based in the Berlin borough of Kreuzberg, Nora is a previous German barista champion and a current World Coffee Championships judge. In addition to her work at Chapter One, Nora also works on marketing, education, and sales for La Marzocco Germany.
Joining them, Philipp Reichel is the roaster and co-owner of Kaffee 9 Roastery (Kreuzberg) and Isla Coffee (Neukölln) as well as a co-creator and main organizer of the annual Berlin Coffee Festival, now in its fifth successive year. The panel was rounded out with current German coffee champions Wojtek Bialczak, a roaster for Five Elephant, and Nicole Battefeld, roaster and trainer at Röststätte Berlin. Wojtek won the 2019 German Barista Championships, going on to place fifth in the 20th World Barista Championship in Boston this past April. Nicole, the 2018 German Barista Champion, will represent Germany at the 2019 World Coffee in Good Spirits Championship, taking place at this year’s World of Coffee in June.
The panel considers an audience question before responding.
From left: Philipp Reichel, Nicole Battefeld, Ralf Rueller, Nora Smahelova, Wojtek Bialczak, and Richard Stiller. Photo: Susie Kealy.
Over the course of the evening, the panel discussed a wide variety of topics affecting the coffee industry, including issues of sustainability, the growth of the German coffee community, and how to drive education within the coffee industry as a whole. Many of the panelists also focused on the importance of communication between companies across the industry as well as with customers, particularly around coffee price and provenance. Other topics discussed included the importance of better-valuing the job of baristas and how to encourage curious customers. There was a heavy focus on making the journey of a barista to be seen as career and not just that “of a student job.”
When the floor opened for audience questions, Nicole and Wojtek had the opportunity to expand upon how competitors prepare for competitions, sharing stories of their own personal journeys. They discussed how much preparation was required in the time allowed before certain competitions and how previous experience helped them to prepare. Other questions focused on the price of coffee at both farm and shop levels. During the discussion of the price of coffee, many of the audience joined the conversation, sharing their own thoughts.
In closing the evening’s discussion, the panelists agreed that while the specialty scene in Berlin has come along a considerable way over the past ten years – and despite being at the forefront of the European market – it is still behind in terms of a global market. Here’s hoping that, as moderator Richard expressed in closing the event, these discussions will continue as the international coffee community gathers together this June!
World of Coffee Berlin will take place June 6-8, 2019.