Coffee. Most of us drink it daily as espressos, filter coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, iced coffees or even frappuccino’s, but what a lot of us don’t realize is that there is an entire culture around this glorious liquid motivation. It’s not surprising that such a culture would exist around a product that has been cultivated and traded for over 400 years and is now one of the world’s top 5 most traded commodities. Like the other subcultures we will explore over the next few weeks, coffee comes with its own people, processes, and language.
Given this all this information we’ve decided to give you a glimpse into the important components behind the culture of coffee by asking some experts who’ve spent many years preparing and roasting coffee. Those experts are the people behind the Amsterdam-based Stooker Roasting Co.
Could you tell us a little about Stooker Roasting Co. and about the reasons you started the business?
Stooker Roasting Co. and the Stooker Coffee Academy were founded in the summer of 2014. Coffee is a product we are very passionate about; the flavor, the diversity, the connection with farmers, the ways to brew it, how an espresso bar can connect people who live in the same neighborhood… Just too much good stuff to not do anything with, at the same time we saw a rising focus of consumers for quality products, honest and real products so we decided to show people how good real coffee can be by partnering up with great cafe and restaurant owners who tell our story and brew our product.
Can you describe the culture around coffee? How it is now where it was 5 to 10 years ago in the Netherlands?
The good thing is, coffee is very hot right now. There is focus on the product, who brews it, how he or she brews it, where it comes from, how it was processed, what it tastes like. There is so much more knowledge available for the consumer on what they’re drinking and that’s great. The bad thing is, coffee is very hot right now… it’s our job as coffee professionals to show people that coffee is more than a lifestyle, more than a tattooed barista with a beard, more than a difficult name of an origin. It can be all of that too, not a problem, but we need make the product the center of it all.
How does coffee fit into the urban lifestyle?
Like I said, people are focusing more on quality, as well as origin and sustainability when it comes to food and drinks. In larger cities, this movement is growing a little bit faster than in other places I think. Coffee is a very interesting product for these consumers, just like craft beer, kombucha, sour dough bread and natural wines are.
Who makes up the coffee culture? What kind of people are interested in coffee at the level to make it a distinct group?
Coffee really is for everyone. But the people who really get into it, the coffee nerds, are often between 20 and 40. Other than that, it can be anyone. Anyone with a healthy focus on quality and flavor though.
Do you see coffee lovers as its own urban subculture? Are their smaller groups within the coffee subculture?
There are people who love to drink coffee and might know what the origin of the beans are that were used for their espresso. You also have people who love to drink coffee and brew it, and when they brew it they measure the total dissolved solids of their end product with a refractometer… yeah, that is a pretty small group of people.
Coffee has been pretty mainstream in our culture a long time (over a century) now but how do you see it progressing in the future? Do you think there will be a trend that will become the new hype like espresso based drinks have been in the recent past?
The future will be very robotic, barista’s will move away from most of the brewing of the coffee and more towards building of recipes and towards storytelling and being a great host. Also, I still hope filter coffee will make a large-scale comeback.
In your opinion, what is the difference between indie coffee houses and more large-scale corporate places like Starbucks? Do you think that they draw in a different clientele?
Flavor. The bigger organizations just don't have it as their goal, their main focus. Their goal is either growing bigger and bigger, or making more money. So they make a product that is very safe or boring even. Indie coffee houses show the world how great coffee can really taste. All of its eccentric flavors, all of its diversity.
Is the coffee culture based mostly on flavor and quality or is it based around the atmosphere and socializing?
Both. And that’s great, by having a great atmosphere and a very social and attractive espresso bar you can tell your story, about flavor and quality, to more people.
Is there anything else in your years spent immersed in coffee culture that you think it important to share with those not as well versed?
Read ‘God in a Cup’ if you want to know a bit more about our world. Don’t be scared of acidity and fruity flavors in coffee. And for all those entrepreneurs: it’s not rocket science, step your game up!
Stooker Roasting Co. is run by Onno van Zanten, Florian Hessel and Yoeri Joosten. Stooker roasts coffee beans for horeca entrepreneurs and offers training for their baristas, as well as home baristas in their SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) Certified Stooker Coffee Academy. Stooker Roasting Co. is not a café, they are a roasting company which mean that they roast coffee beans for other companies. They do however have a webshop where you can buy roasted coffee beans for yourself or business.
Some of their partners which they supply roasted coffee beans to are the Hotel Pulitzer, Kaagman & Kortekaas, Selma’s, Harewood Bakery, Peoples Place, and Lindenhoff