Milk and sugar aren't on the menu at The Barn
Today I'd like to try another variant of manual coffee preparation: the AeroPress. It's supposed to work like my French press at home. That's why I'm looking forward to seeing if I really can survive The Barn without milk and sugar. I stroll past all the galleries and designer boutiques along the Auguststraße and then take a left towards Kloppenplatz. It's the end of November and there are still small stools standing outside the tiny café. Inside is toasty warm, though, and a barista welcomes me as I enter. She tells me in her pretty English accent that "Guatemala – San Francisco" is on the AeroPress menu for the day: “Toffee, dense sugary body, balanced by black fruits”. Sounds good. She takes my name and tells me her colleague would call me as soon as my coffee is ready. Given the tiny size of the shop, that ought to work. But I take my job seriously and don't want to miss watching the barista in action.
So I hover around the counter and observe: He first lets the boiling water cool down some and then mixes it with freshly ground coffee in the AeroPress carafe. As he presses the plunger down, the coffee is forced through a fine paper filter and unleashes a host of flavour. The result ends up in a small glass with an admonition that I should let the coffee stand a bit – partly because it's currently at 60 °C and partly to let the taste develop fully. Yes, sir! I do as I am told. I sit on a stool and watch the colourful hustle and bustle on the pavement. A fine coffee aroma starts making its way from my cup to my nose. Then comes the moment of truth: Wow! Mind blowing! Not a single note of bitterness or acid – it really is incredible.
The nice barista comes up and we chat about my filter coffee adventures over the past few days. She had had a similar conversion experience. Since starting to work for Ralf Rüller back in the summer, her coffee drinking habits had been transformed. She suggests I visit The Barn's new Roastery on Schönhauser Allee where they have a larger selection of coffees. Also I really ought to attend a coffee tasting – it's really the only way that I'd become aware of the spectrum of flavours to be had in coffee.
And that does seem to me to be the ideal opportunity to figure out the perfect coffee for my tastes. Then I can do my own grinding, weighing, brewing and sipping in the comfort of my home – after all, as Björn told me when I started out: Coffee is not a science but a passion.