With a widened smile Agent Dale Cooper exclaims “Damn good coffee!“ to the waitress whom had just served him drip coffee in a pot. The ladder of course is one of Kyle MacCahalan’s famous lines from the cult David Lynch 90s drama, Twin Peaks. Coffee, to a wide array of people is a crucial part of their daily ritual, sometimes showcasing their own culture or a post-meal sealer and most likely the first kick of energy in the morning. Down the street from the busy Checkpoint Charlie and 50 meters into Berlin’s Kreuzberg from the conglomerate Starbucks lies westberlin a coffeeshop whom is superior too many of its kind. While I was in Berlin I got the chance to interview the owner Kai Bröer and head of Coffee April.
Coffee has had a couple of waves in its aesthetic, serving and technology. Currently by the words of experts it’s in its third wave and that wave a strong and smooth one that’s an approachable one to newcomers and die-hards. The first wave was proclaimed in the United States by drip pots you’d find anywhere from an office to local coffee place, coffee was coffee end of story. The second wave was kicked off bye the rightfully ridiculed Starbucks in the city of Seattle in the 1970s with the start of commercial espresso machines. Now in the 21st century, third-wave coffeeshops are popping up in metropolitan cities around the globe and the main premise is quality over quantity.
“It’s every architects dream to open up a café” says Kai Bröer, westberlin's owner, from the other end of the table. westberlin café lies on Friedrichstrasse 215, which is conveniently located outside of the U6 / Kochstarße station. When entering the coffeeshop it feels like you’re in a Scandinavian art gallery of sorts, all of the inhabitants are invested in their conversations, magazine reading or Macs. All of these “noises” together create a mantra for working or being swollen by a magazine with great typography and visuals, while enjoying the best -in my biased opinion- coffee offered around the globe.
The crew at westberlin are mainly in their 20s whom all are native English speakers articulating the broad global network coffee creates, it’s a breath of fresh cream to hear cappuccino in three different English accents.
Coffee isn’t incarcerated by warm weather anymore and every gram is accounted for.
What caught my tongue at westberlin was every component of the coffee they serve and how they serve it, let me enunciate this is a nerdy sense, to the extent of knowledge I have regarding this extraordinary bean called coffee.
westberlin uses primarily Drop Coffee, which is a Swedish company whom acquires their beans from Bolivia and Kenya which are roasted in chilly Stockholm, Sweden and also Five Elephants whom get their beans from Brazil and Rwanda, roasted in Gray Berlin. Both of these beans have a fruit like taste to them, at least to a tongue that was dominated for years by brutal Mediterranean roasting and drinking habits.
The key to success is an extra step in a barista’s workflow and one less step in the dairy world.
“Coffee is a delicate thing to work with” states April while washing out previous espresso kissed cups over the well designed working space. What I had noticed upon my first (of many) order at westberlin was an extra step the baristas religious undertook post-grind of the coffee and before attaching the coffee head to the machine, weighing. As April previously stated one gram can throw off a beans taste so the barista’s need to regulate the grinded coffee to 18 grams grinded and 35 extracted, this process is called over and under extraction and it’s a crucial part in the equation to exquisite cup of coffee. As a fan of Flat Whites, a coffee and milk mix originating from New Zealand / Australia, I learned that the quantity, type and foaming of the milk is what makes to breaks it. A Flat White is 160ml of NONE-homogenized milk, with a varying percentage go fat being 3 to 4 percent, which is finally microfoamed. This is mixed with a double shot of espresso creating damn good coffee, in Agent Coopers slang.
When Bröer went to New York in the 1990s there were newsbars. News had everything you “needed” coffee and the news in ancient mediums like Television coinciding with old magazines cover, kind of like magazine stands in the middle east. Bröer modernized this concept two decades after. westberlin is also a very respected magazine shop, it carries 032c, KINFOLK, 39NULL and more mainstream magazines like Dazed & Confused and i-D. When your eyes are tired of your laptop’s screen there is always something visually stimulating. The café’s interior design is also by Bröer whom chose acidic yellow, gray, white and real wood as a café’s aesthetic which blends in naturally with location westberlin is situated in.