As my family and I traveled to Copenhagen and Berlin this summer, I visited a few roasteries.
After a few days in Copenhagen, it was now time to head for Berlin.
We drove to Gedser, the southernmost town in Denmark, crossed the Baltic Sea on a large Scandlines ferry and arrived in Berlin at nightfall.
Our apartment was on Schönhauser Allee, in the Prenzlauer Berg district, a stone’s throw from Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm.
It also coincidentally happened to be a couple of houses down from The Barn Roastery.
I’ll never forget that first sip.
As roasteries are concerned, The Barn holds a special place in my heart. It’s where my humble journey in the world of specialty coffee started three years ago.
I first stumbled into their roastery by sheer luck. It was pouring, and I was mostly looking to get out of the rain. I’d never heard of The Barn. Moreover, I knew little to nothing about specialty coffee, roasting, or pour-overs.
At first, I was a little taken aback by what I thought was an extravagant price tag for a simple cup of “filter” coffee.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere was really nice, I placed my order, and the barista ceremoniously brewed a cup.
I’ll never forget that first sip.
I had no idea coffee could be so aromatic. It was amazing.
The next day, I was back at the roastery, and I ordered another cup and started asking questions about the coffee and the brewing process.
The barista was incredibly gracious in his explanations.
He also introduced me to the Aeropress. This lightweight funny-looking plastic contraption has since become my primary moring coffee maker. Also, anytime I’m on the road, I’ll pop it in my bag. This summer, it traveled thru Danemark and Germany with us.
“Sustainability can only become a reality through fair pricing and long-term partnerships.”
As I slowly educated myself, I started understanding why specialty coffee costs so much more than a cup of a cheap, generic brew.
I was flagrantly unaware of the impact the coffee trade has not only on the environment but also on the financial and social well-being of small farmers.
Third-wave coffee roasters have initiated a movement to compensate the producers appropriately. In this regard, The Barn is one of the forerunners.
The Berlin-based leading specialty coffee roaster was established in June 2010 by Ralf Rüller. His roastery is known to be uncompromisingly dedicated to sourcing the absolute best beans and roasting them to perfection. And also, of course, consistently brewing an exceptional cup of coffee.
Also, The Barn has always been particularly concerned about forging long-lasting bonds with the local farmers while always paying a fair price for quality coffee.
They only roast single-origin coffee. Blending is out of the question. This approach allows you to truly taste the terroir — the unique flavors imparted by the soil, the climate, and the environment in which the beans are produced.
The Barn seems to treat its coffee farms like vineyards.
“More than 800 flavors can be experienced in specialty Arabica beans, and it all starts at farm level. High elevation, great microclimates, healthy soil, and timing are all key — but the highest quality coffees come from careful processing, hand-sorting, and slow drying.” — The Barn website
And, of course, they always roast light. In a previous post about Coffee Collective, the famed Danish roastery, I wrote a few words about the incredible impact a light roast has on the flavor and aromas of the coffee.
From crop to cup: better understanding the coffee supply chain
Three years later, I’m still an absolute coffee neophyte. The more I learn, the more I discover how little I actually know.
But I credit The Barn with getting me excited about specialty coffee and, more importantly, interested in the whole coffee supply chain, from crop to cup.
Every time I’m in Berlin, I make a point to drop by The Barn’s Schönhauser Allee roastery. And even though I try to by from local roasters when I’m back in Belgium, The Barn’s webshop has become my go-to place on the interwebs to buy coffee beans I can’t find at home.
While in Berlin, I also visited for the first time Bonanza Coffee Roasters. I’ll talk about that in a future post.
I really love Berlin.
While drafting this piece, I got the wild notion of gathering my posts about my tentative foray in the realm of specialty coffee under the label #TheCoffeeChronicles. I got so inspired that I even got ahead of myself and secured the domain name. I’m thinking it could become a blog (although I’m unsure the world needs yet another coffee blog). Any thoughts?The Coffee Chronicles