Last week, as my attention span begin to dwindle during a Café study sesh, I decided to finally rip off the band-aid and interview someone in German! I was so nervous as I approached the man behind the counter and began to ask him if he was the owner of the shop. Then for the next five minutes (it really seemed a lot longer in my head) I stumbled through my limited German vocabulary to string together what was at the end a very pleasant conversation.
Fast-forward to me actually writing the post. Sitting down I thought I was going to talk about the coffee, because trust, it is worthy to be talked about. But the more I wrote and thought about our conversation, the more I realized that above an amazing cup of coffee what I got from this experience was the chance to meet a truly inspiring person.
This is Marko and 7 years ago he took the bold step of opening his own business- Kaffeehandwerk, a then mobile coffee bar open weekends at a local market. After some years he took a further step and opened the current brick-and-mortar, building all the furniture by hand, and decorating the place himself. In my short time talking to him I was left with the impression of what type of person it takes to start and run a business.
When I asked Marko how he got into the coffee business he said one word: hobby. Just a hobby. In a recent conversation with a close friend I realized how much I belittle this word. She was telling me about You-tubers who make a living recording themselves playing, and commenting on, video games (oh my goodness, I sound like an internet-novice-grandmother). Immediately I thought: hmm that sounds a bit boring. But then the more I considered the more I thought, “Ingenious! These people have found a way to make a living from what they love to do.” It reminded me of why I studied Fashion Management in the first place: I loved it. Plain and simple. Ich bin der Meinung, dass money comes and money goes. And I will not spend the majority of my life chasing after it. If I’m going to work 8 hours (or more) a day I’m gonna have to love what I’m doing. It has to be a passion, to the point that day after day it gets me out of bed to face it again. And what better way to do that than to turn a hobby into a living. Ingenious. „Man muss das gerne machen.“- Man must do it gladly. What other things are needed to open and run your own business according to Marko? „Durchhalten, viel Mut, leidenschaft, herz.“
Of course, as many things in life, this is easier said than done. But here before me was a man that has done it. His secret? Good old-fashioned hard work. When I asked if there was many problems in the beginning, his answer rewired my way of thinking. „Es ist nicht viele Probleme. Es ist viele Arbeit.“- It is not (that there is) many problems. It is (that there is) much work. He pointed out that many people want to open their own coffee shop, take the first steps in doing so, but after a 12 hour working day, realizing that there is still a lot of work to do, they throw in the towel. “Es ist nicht so romantisch.“- It is not so romantic. I love it. Many have the passion, but without its faithful counterpart “Hard-work”, it remains just that, an intangible passion and dream. Without hard work dreams cannot become reality. And without a positive attitude, what is really just hard work becomes in our mind many problems.
When Marko began this hobby of his, it was more than just familiarizing himself with the coffee world- he entered into it. At the age of 20 he bought his own espresso machine and worked to perfect the art of coffee making himself. Eventually he also started to experiment in roasting his own coffee beans (which he uses and sells in his shop). At Kaffeehandwerk there are a variation of drinks offered, drinks such as tonic coffee- a cold brew with tonic water, Red Bitter, Vanilla Black- two scoops of vanilla ice cream with two shots of expression poured over them (my next visit’s victim), and among others, the classic latte and cold brew. Marko gets his inspiration for these drinks from his travels and Coffee-Expo visitations. He uses his vacations to travel and sample the local coffee, then comes home and masters it himself- a good example of play and work going hand in hand.
My Personal Review
Personally I’ve been to Kaffeehandwerk two times, having had the iced latte (total American) and, upon recommendation from a friend and Marko himself, the cold brew. I have to say, I drink my fair share of coffee and have a thing for trying every coffee shop in current city of habitation. And this cold brew was perfection, from presentation to taste. It’s poured over this ginormous stone of ice which keeps the ice from melting quickly and thus watering down what could have been a divine brew. To the last sip, my coffee was delicate and oh so smooth! No bitterness what so ever, and no acidic aftertaste. Ganz Delish! The latte also stood its ground. Not too much milk (which I find to be a common problem when ordering a latte in Germany) allowing one to still taste the rich and bold taste of the espresso.
As for the shop itself, there’s good WiFi, a cozy atmosphere, and a few outlets available to those like me that like to work for hours outside your own house and yet feel at home. And even the neighborhood is a hidden gem, full of fun gift shops, second hand stores (a rarity in this city), book stores, and great restaurants!
And to end this review I want to mention the awesome staff.
Embarrassing story time! The day I interviewed Marko I was so nervous about the whole “interview a stranger in German on a whim” thing that as I left… I FORGOT TO PAY!!!!!! And I didn’t even realize it until I went back a few days later with the same friend to try the cold brew, and she realized we hadn’t paid for our first visit!!!! (ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS) I was so embarrassed that I confessed my misdemeanor to the staff repeatedly and to my surprise…. they just laughed it off. I tried to pay three different times and they totally dismissed me, even saying it was on them so my conscience could be clear and that they would write a note of apology on my behalf to Marko. Honestly: Sweetest. People. Ever.
So if you live in the area, or are in town for a visit, I highly recommend you hop over, take a sip of an amazingly roasted coffee, enjoy a chat with a friend on the hand-made furniture as your phone charges in the corner, and before strolling out to take a walk around the trendy neighborhood, pay.
Til next time,
Flores y Chocolate und manchmal