• Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Quality and transparency is the new black

    Neues Schwarz is a striking-looking coffee shop where a harmonious balance of form and function meet. Nestled in the town of Dortmund-Mitte, in the eastern Ruhr region of Germany, the coffee shop’s understated central espresso and brew bar helps to put the spotlight on the real star of the show. A Probat P12 roaster also takes pride of place to one side of the coffee shop which complements the practical two tone surroundings. The open-plan interior communicates a strong ethos at the heart of the coffee enterprise. From the meticulous design aesthetic to the roasting operation and regular cupping sessions – the enjoyment and appreciation of specialty coffee is clearly…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Keeping it in the family

    The Rast Kaffee roastery lies next to a train line in an industrial area on the outskirts of Ebikon, a small village near Lucerne in central Switzerland. Housed in a large warehouse, the imposing exterior conceals the passion that takes place inside. Neither is there any obvious front door to the roastery, rather an industrial-sized elevator that whisks you to the first floor that opens out into a vast production area framed by palettes stacked with sacks of green beans. The air is full of the rich aroma of freshly roasted coffee.    With a beaming smile, the fourth generation in the family-run business, Beatrice Rast, introduces herself and starts…

  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    The nomads with a mission to put specialty on the mediterranean coffee map

    Jordi Mestre’s journey into specialty coffee began on a wet and windy day on the streets of London’s East End with a cup of coffee that changed his life. Lovingly brewed out of the back of a coffee cart in Whitechapel the founder of Barcelona-based coffee company, Nomad, recalls how he tasted one of the most memorable coffees he had ever had: “It was a cold, rainy, early morning. I had everything against me to enjoy this coffee and despite the conditions, the coffee was the most amazing I had ever tried”. Inspired by that singular sensory moment, Jordi’s one-month stint to learn English in the capital turned into a…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain,  The Bean

    Inspiring the next generation of women coffee roasters

    The team behind Swiss-based Gipfelstürmer Kaffee stumbled into coffee in the most unlikely, and punishing of circumstances. After pushing their bodies to the limit in training sessions for the triathlon, their first instinct was to recover after a long swim with a reviving coffee. It was a hard-won qualification for the Ironman competition in Hawaii in 2007 that brought them into first contact with specialty coffee. “In Kona, it was refreshing to see this new coffee culture that was different to Switzerland – it was a fun way of expressing coffee so we decided to bring this experience back home,” says co-founder Denise Morf.   Denise, along with her business partner Simone…

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  • Demystifying the coffee value chain

    Roasting on the wild side

    For the professional ice hockey player turned roast master, Leonard Wild’s journey into coffee was never straight forward. Shortly after hanging up his blades from a career playing for the German Ice Hockey League, he decided to open a popular build-your-own sandwich store near Munich, Germany. His quest to serve the best coffee in the area propelled his fast food enterprise to become the highest coffee-income generating shop in the Subway franchise worldwide, he proudly claims. When Leonard decided to sell his shop in 2008, he had already been keeping the flame of an old 12kg Probat alive during his spare time for more than two-years. This innate curiosity and…

  • The Bean

    A new dialogue in direct trade

    A tech-based platform could be set to revolutionise how coffee roasters and growers interact and trade with each other. Algrano, a Swiss-based start up that officially launched earlier this year at Nordic World of Coffee in Gothenburg, Sweden, is shorthand for the Spanish phrase vamos directo al grano, or fittingly translated as – let’s get straight to the point. It’s a simple but effective concept that has already scooped a coveted SCAE award for tech innovation. The pioneers behind Algrano are also setting their sights on nurturing a global community of coffee professionals from opposite ends of the speciality coffee value chain by creating a space for dialogue and direct…

  • Nepal,  The Bean

    Seeds of recovery take root in Nepal

    Two months have passed since natural disaster struck Nepal but new shoots of recovery are already beginning to take root. “It has been a massive blow to our people. I fear that our infrastructure and development has been pushed back by two to three years,” says Appa Sherpa, Director of the Nuwa Estate Coffee. Since April, he has been heavily involved in the local relief effort since the earthquake tragically claimed thousands and flattened villages – leaving millions homeless. And the arrival of the monsoon rains bring an increased risk of landslides  – threatening further damage to livelihoods and crops. It is particularly acute for Nepal’s fledging coffee industry that has…

  • London,  The Bean

    The pleasures and pains of coffee

    Ever since the age of the enlightenment, the literary canon is steeped in references to the seductive power of coffee to refresh the senses and stimulate mind. From Beethoven to Voltaire, the creative output of musicians and writers has been fuelled by its invigorating properties. But there is one particular writer who stands out in his legendary lust for a drop of the good stuff. The prolific French writer and playwright, Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), had a reputation for taking his coffee addiction very seriously, and often to extreme lengths. So serious was his desire to summon his mighty literary muse from a steaming cup of Joe that he would…

  • Ethiopia,  London,  The Bean,  The Bike,  United Kingdom

    Ubuntu: The spirit of coffee

    Of all the insights that I have gained into coffee culture on the trail to Ethiopia before returning back to the whirlpool of London life, there is one softly spoken truth that endures. It is a universal truth that runs through the coffee trade and culture like a golden thread, connecting every stage of its complex supply chain from field to cup. It is a philosophy that cannot be fully expressed in books, research papers or from the good intentions of policy-makers. Its application cannot be taught out of a school textbook. Neither can it be bottled, packaged or commoditised in the interest of profit. It transcends all these things;…

  • Ethiopia,  The Bean,  United Kingdom

    Trading seeds of change

    Born in the Oromia town of Warra Jarso, 175kms north of the capital Addis Ababa, Abiyot Shiferaw was brought up with his two sisters and four brothers in a happy family environment. Like all Ethiopians, they celebrated special occasions by holding a traditional coffee ceremony. From an early age, Abiyot had a strong sense of fairness but saw injustice all around him. He saw how his fellow countrymen and women did not have access to clean water or could not pay for basic medical treatment. He observed how children were denied an education because their parents couldn’t afford to send them to school. He witnessed state-sponsored corruption at the hands…