Diving into the world of coffee.
What gets you moving in the morning? For me, it's not my morning shower or even jogging laps around Friedrichshain Volkspark under grey November skies – I am instead one of those who only gets moving with my first cup of coffee in the morning. Deep, dark, hot liquid. Preferably in a large cup, hidden under a mountain of frothy milk. I couldn't be less interested in a caramel macchiato in a paper cup with plastic lid! You almost burn your fingers trying to hold a flimsy cup full of almost-boiling liquid to your mouth. You'll almost certainly burn your tongue, even if just a little. Then you try to lick the foam surreptitiously from inside of the lid and then try in vain to get the last bit of foam out of the bottom of the cup with the wooden coffee stirrer. And, in the end, you're left with sticky fingers as you climb into your train.
That is why I was very keen on learning more about the new Slow Coffee Movement taking hold in Berlin. Slow coffee baristas take time to prepare your cup with care, using old-school methods such as filtering by hand. An idea that I was initially skeptical about. Filter coffee? Wasn't that the weak, watery coffee indispensable on any grandma's coffee table? Well, I do like to disabuse myself, so I make my way to Berlin's filter fans to give it a try.
Café Chapter One - Kreuzberg
First on my coffee tour is the café in the Bergmanstraße neighbourhood run by Nora Smahelová and Björn Kopke. Curious about what I was getting into, I climb the three steps to the entrance at Mittenwalderstraße 30. Even as I open the door, I am lured in by the comforting smell of freshly ground coffee. I decide against sitting on a bar stool and instead choose a window seat to scope out the small, minimalist café: Green-grey walls, chequerboard-patterned floor and a long bar, behind which Björn is adding ground coffee to a glass jar. I watch as the boiling water rises in the contraption reminiscent of equipment from a chemistry lab and transforms into a reddish brown liquid. After the heat source is turned off, the coffee flows through a filter back into the carafe. I'm absolutely fascinated and decide to let him make me a coffee. And with lightly roasted beans from Kenya recommended by the barista. As I wait on my coffee from the siphon, the contraption's name, Björn gives me an extensive explanation of the benefits of hand filtering: It offers the possibility of accenting the individual components of a bean, such as black fruity notes, and thus prepare coffee according to taste. To demonstrate the difference, I'm served another coffee brewed with a ceramic filter.
Coffee is the New Wine
So before me stand two glass carafes, filled with reddish-brown, slightly berry-scented coffee. I first pour out the slightly murky variant from the siphon into one of the cups and, as I wait for it cool, I hear Gang Starr's "Moment of Truth". How fitting. And the promised flavours of wild berries, rhubarb and lemons are much more pronounced with the siphon coffee than with the coffee from the ceramic filter. As the beverage changes temperature, its taste seems to change as well. A phenomenon with which wine connoisseurs are all too familiar. What an experience.
To be continued...