Coming up: Berlin Coffee Festival

Philipp Reichel in front of Café Neun

Berliners are crazy about coffee, that’s obvious while the reasons might be manifold. It was clearly about time the many coffee nerds of the city get a festival to gather and share knowledge and intense coffee discussions, to celebrate the black brew in all its varieties: The Berlin Coffee festival is happening in all of Berlin with plenty of workshops, tastings, challenges, lectures, tours and much more. I met initiator Philipp Reichel of Café Neun at Markthalle Neun to talk about the exploding scene, the program, the challenges of uniting Berlins coffee makers and why you should get the sweet sauce at Big Stuff. Additionally, we’re giving away tickets for the Berlin coffee tours on Friday and Saturday! Read on… (and check our guide to the best coffee in Berlin later.)

The growth of the Berlin coffee scene has been somewhat crazy, it feels like new shops are opening every week! Would you agree that this had a certain starting point? To be specific, that much changed with the opening of The Barn?

It’s quite impressive how much has happened in Berlin, in the past five years we’ve seen an incredible push, also because the world-wide scene has exploded under the Third Wave Coffee label. We created a Berlin coffee map on the occasion of the festival and I feel like we missed five places that just opened already. So yes, it is crazy but also beautiful. I do think the real change happened when The Barn opened three years ago. And we’re still not at the end! While Mitte, Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg are the alleged centers of this development, a lot will happen in Wedding and Charlottenburg in the future.
But we shouldn’t forget the pioneers, who have been pushing the scene for years, like Bonanza in Prenzlauer Berg, who’ve been working for seven years, or Five Elephant in Kreuzberg, who have been working for five years. And then there are those who never applied the label of Third Wave Coffee, like Tres Cabezas, who have an entirely different audience than, say, The Barn. They are equally important, since the Third Wave Coffee label can be something quite exclusive, which coffee in itself isn’t. Germany is one of the main coffee consuming countries in the world, and this is obviously not because of speciality coffee. Alongside Tres Cabezas, there’s for instance Double Eye in Schöneberg, who been doing Italian coffee in a very high quality that’s without equal in Berlin, now with their own roasted coffee, albeit done with great understatement.
The Third Wave Coffee movement, though, did come to us not only from London, but also from Scandinavia, especially when we’re talking about drip coffee, which is, in the end, the essence of the movement. Drinks like the flat white, or creations like „Latte Art“, are gimmicks only. Drip coffee is about a pure and precise cup of coffee, that let’s you appreciate all of coffee’s flavor.

stilinberlin cafe neun-2

How did you get to the idea to create a coffee festival?

The past years Berlin had seen the Kaffee Campus, which was organized mainly for a professional audience. At this event, speciality coffee or Third Wave coffee only played a small role, if at all, and didn’t receive the attention it deserved. This year, Kaffee Campus is not happening due to organizational reasons, so we decided to fill this gap. For us, it’s important to extravert all the things going on inside of the coffee scene, we wanted to create an event that is not only about baristi exchanging the latest roasts, but want to raise awareness in the mainstream for what the inner circles does.
Sadly, there’s a lot of competition going on between coffee roasters, since they all work in the same market, and sometimes this competition creates disagreements. This made the organization slightly difficult, so I think it’s been important to have someone organize it who’s impartial and at the same time has the power to realize this kind of big festival. Since we’re not roasting at Café Neun, and we have the support of Markthalle Neun, it’s easy for us to act as an outsider that merges all of them.

What’s the program gonna be like?

For us, it’s been important to have the city participate, to not only create a closed up exhibition, but to bring the people into the different coffee shops of Berlin. Which is why most of the program is hosted by the shops. To create the program we worked with Chapter One’s Nora Smahelova, who’s a figurehead for the German coffee movement, she’s not only been the national champion at the SCAE baristi championship, but also has been doing great things to push the movement. Chapter One is still the first destination for those interested in drip coffee, and she just now opened Coffee Profilers with the TAF coffee team from Greece. The World Brewers Champion of 2014, Stefanos Domatiotis, is part of them. Nora is organizing the the barista challenge on Friday. In which, by the way, everyone can take part! We have 16 spots that are up for grabs for everyone courageous enough to battle – more info here – the winner will receive a Mythos One grinder by our sponsor Victoria Arduino. Following the competition is our big opening party, where we’ll dance to music from coffee producing countries. It will be a blast.
Saturday we’ll then see different events throughout the city, The Barn is offering a huge program, where people can learn a lot about coffee. One of my favorites will be the Brew Up Special at Nano Coffee in Kreuzberg, where three different German roasters will present drip coffee and espresso. Also exciting will be the Karlsbader Kannen Cup at the Berlin School of Coffee. This very distinct brewing method relies on a porcelain filter and uses no paper, and we will have a competition for that as well.
The market on Sunday is the grand finale, different roasters from Berlin, Germany and Europe will represent themselves, it will put the Berlin scene in a bigger perspective. With a small entry fee of 5 Euro, everyone will be able to taste coffee from the different roasters, and we’ll also have a brew and an espresso bar, as well as the possibility to buy all roasts. Of course there’ll be cold brew, and we even have chai! As well as the best compliment to a coffee: pasteis de nata by Paz d’Alma. In addition there’ll be other coffee related products like Kaffeeform, who create porcelain with coffee grounds, and Selosoda, who make lemonade out of coffee cherries, which tastes a little like rose hip. During the day, we’ll have a series of lectures at the market organized by Cory Andreen of Café CK, who’s been World Cup Tasters Champion in 2012. It’s important for us to create a bigger awareness and appreciation for how much a luxury coffee is, so we will show the production process and what coffee feels like when lifting a sack of it. Cultivating coffee is arduous work, you need to know that in order to understand the appreciation and care.

How much coffee can you really be able to drink without getting a heart attack?

Speaking of it being healthy, there’s no problem to enjoy six to eight espresso a day, which has less caffeine than a cup of drip coffee. To taste as much as possible it’s important to drink lots of water in between, and eat a lot of pasteis, obviously, as well as something savory. But never too spicy, unless you want your tastebuds destroyed. So better go for the sweet sauce at Big Stuff, not the hot one.

We’re giving away 3×2 tickets for the coffee bike tours on Friday and Saturday, hosted by When in Berlin Tours, where you’ll visit different coffee shops, roasteries, learn a lot about coffee and the scene, and obviously drink loads of caffeine:
Friday, 10.30–13.30 tasting tour Kreuzberg + 15:00–18:00 tasting tour Friedrichshain & Mitte;
Saturday, 12:30–17:00 touring 3 roasteries.

Please leave a comment below, stating which tour you wanna join (bike is included!) and tell us a little bit about where you had your best coffee ever and what it was like until Wednesday, August 26th, 15:00. (Rules)

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  1. Anna on

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    Hi, I would love to attend the Saturday tour. The best coffee I ever had? The morning flat white in one of the amazingWellington’s coffee roastery.

  2. Esther Lehmacher on

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    I’d like to join the Saturday tour.

    I had the best coffee at Lombok,Indonesia at the bottom of Mount Rinjani, where I went hiking. The tour was somewhat exhausting and on my way up the mountain we walked past a little shop. I discovered some brownish things on the roof of the little house and asked the old lady what it was. She said it were coffee beans which they grown in the rainforest which you have to cross when I want to reach to top of the mountain. I had a coffee which she made out of beans which were dry yet and I have to say it was an awesome and very tasteful experience, since Indonesians usually serve instant coffee and all “the good stuff” will be shipped and sold to foreign countries.
    Having a coffee which was so natural and refreshing kept me going for the next few hours hiking and the taste was just irresistible! The old lady and I could barely interact since she hardly spoke any English. But we managed to get both happy and sharing a lovely experience. xx Esther

  3. Carmen on

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    I’d like to join any of the Tours really….
    I had the best coffees in Vienna, more because I felt like I was Harry Lime than because of the roast. Beautiful times those.

  4. Nicola on

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    I’m an amateur, but am eager to learn more about great coffee and how the proper way to roast beans leads to a superior product. I particularly enjoy the product at The Barn, where baristas take great care in preparing perfectly balanced coffee using the Aeropress. However, I’m quite intimidated when I see how much effort is required to make that perfect cup, and have yet to graduate beyond my Bodum French press. I’m definitely eager to learn more.

  5. Noemi on

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    I would love to join either of the tours.
    I had my best coffee in a little, third wave coffeeshop in the heart of Budapest, called My Little Melbourne. The coffee there is amazing and they also offer a wide selection of milks (not just cow and soy).

  6. Mara on

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    I think I had my best coffee two month ago in berlin at Cafe Kraft in Berlin after the most beautiful weekend with my grilfriend she took me there, we played chess and I never tasted a better coffee than the one there.. I would love to take my girlfriend to that tour as she is such a great coffee-lover (her favourite ones were in boston and portland/oregon), as a suurprise, in the saturday-tour! knicks.

  7. Sonja on

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    The one that really hit the spot? From a tiny street-side stall in Catania/Sicily, serving nothing but espresso. The perfect blend of just-right roast, gentle bitterness and a touch of smooth crema!

    I’d love to check out the Mitte/Friedrichshain shenanigans on Friday afternoon if there’s space on the tour.

  8. Vlad on

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    A Panama geisha, I believe it was La Esmeralda Special. It was like a strawberry exploded in my mouth.

  9. sofie on

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    I would love to pick the Saturday-tour (12:30–17:00 touring 3 roasteries). 2 years ago I went to Scario, Italy, there I had my my best cappucino at a local bar where all the men of the village had their morning gathering before leaving to work.

  10. Conny on

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    Wow – I’d really love to celebrate the start into my weekend with the Friday afternoon coffee tour!

    I still clearly remember the most perfect Cappuccino I’ve ever had at The Barn at Auguststraße. It was late spring, I was heading to work and just had some minutes left to treat myself to a quick refreshment… when I took my cup in that little shop, not even taking my coat off, the very first bright and warm sunshine of the year hit my face through the shop window. While I was greeted by that first soon-to-be summer’s taste I took a sip and tasted it all: the most perfect temperature of C I’ve ever experienced, the full and round flavour of my wakeup call in a cup, the comforting of creamy milk running down my throat on a slow pre-work afternoon. Pure bliss.

    Guys – that’s not even made up, I swear..
    Please let me be part of the tour!

  11. Romana on

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    I like to have my Coffee at Double Eye since it’ss my ‘Kiez.’ And their pastries are also delicious too.
    Would love to win the tour on Saturday.

  12. Joke on

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    One of the best coffee I had is the classical Italian cappuccino at Caffeggiando in Berlin Neukölln. I would love to find other authentic and convincing cappuccini in Berlin on one of the coffee bike tours on Friday.

  13. benito on

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    Mein Favorit wäre die Tour am Samstag, falls ich gewinnen sollte. Ich würde sagen, dass Neapel der Ausgangspunkt für meine andauernde Kaffeee-Liebe ist. Der Espresso, der in einer Bar in der neapolitischen Altstadt serviert wurde, war wie eine Offenbarung. Schöner konnte der Urlaub nicht sein.

  14. Rebecca on

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    I’d love to join either tour. Probably a mild preference for Saturday.
    I don’t think I can really say what the best coffee I’ve ever had might be, but a notable mention has to go to Patricia in Melbourne, an excellent little cafe tucked in the corner of the business district, where they collect the best beans from local roasters and serve coffee with a glass of sparkling water, which they have on tap. Always delicious!

  15. Emeli Ericsson on

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    Every cup of great coffee here in Berlin is my favorite coffee, at that very moment. But I believe some of my favorite coffee moments are from the lovely Early Birds on Winsstrasse – the owner is always smiling, plays good music and you get a bottle of fresh water with mint aside your perfect, creamy, delicious cappuccino, and a little piece of complimentary cake on the side. I’d love to join the F-hain / Mitte tour!

  16. Mei on

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    I’d like to join the Friday Morning tour.
    The best coffee I had is the espresso at Everyman Espresso in NYC. The texture of that espresso is really unique. Every single sip is just so balanced. As a person who is a bit caffeine addicted, that espresso really impresses me.

  17. Christoph on

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    So – the best coffee I have ever had. I was once hiking in the Bolivian highlands.. infrastructure basically non existent and happy whenever there was even a restaurant in a small village which would allow me to unwind and relax. The coffee which you would get there was usually just instant coffee, so the quality was quite low. However – one day I miraculously ended up at a restaurant which was serving really good filter coffee. After weeks of not having this – it felt just amazing. Sitting outside in the sun with a cup of coffee. Just great. :) And – I’d love to join the Saturday tour!

  18. Pinch on

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    Best coffee ever was a Yirgacheffe at a roastery in Taipei. Smooth with citrusy notes that left no aftertaste. It was a much needed respite on a rainy afternoon and the excellent service offered by the knowledgeable staff made for an unforgettable experience. I’m now in search for more of this in Berlin on one of the Friday tours!

  19. Mesut C. on

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    It’s never too late for a good coffee. I guess the best coffee I ever had was the one that woke me up and opened the doors to the coffee scene.

    There is no “best” coffee, because if you’d drink the same good stuff every day you couldn’t distinguish it no more. The variety it is that makes a good taste.

  20. Mary Scherpe on

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    hi guys, thanks for all the comments and stories! the tickets are gone and winners have been notified :)

  21. Rinjani Trekking on

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    Great post! Maybe you should try Indonesian Coffee :)

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