You might've seen their signature 'W' logo on your cup of coffee throughout the city, but you might not have known that White Label Coffee is based in Amsterdam. In fact, beyond supplying the entire city with their high-quality roast, they also have their own coffee-spot in the west of Amsterdam. That all being said, White Label Coffee's been set-up with a very good cause and vision. We wanted to do it justice. Plus we also wanted to give all of you who've been noticing the 'W' logos everywhere, the background story. They were kind enough to take some time out to speak with us:
What’s the different between a roaster and a café or coffee-place? (for the people that might not know the difference)
The difference between a cafe or coffee place and a roaster, is that the first one buys his coffee (from a roaster) already roasted and ready to serve. Whereas a roaster buys it’s coffee raw, or how we're used to saying it - 'green'. We are a roaster as well as a coffee place. We decided to buy 'green' coffee and roast it ourselves since day one. Why? Because we want to be in control of this part of the chain, as well.
Your about section on your website says “we are specialty coffee roasters from Amsterdam”. That sounds like something that every coffee counter could say. But White Label Coffee has more to say than that its serving you “the best coffee in town”, doesn’t it? Tell us your mission and ambition?
I don’t think any of us have ever said we serve the "best" coffee in town. I think that's up to our guests to decide. Our ambition/mission is to create awareness for the product, and to share our knowledge and excitement of the product with our clientele. We want to showcase the many great flavors and aromas coffee has. After a year (or so) of having our own café, we realized that there was a growing demand from the hospitality industry for better coffee. So we opened up a separate roastery to allow ourselves to grow in this direction as well.
Your company’s situated in the Netherlands, which has always caught us off-guard. Before Starbucks entered the Benelux market, the Netherlands was by no stretch a coffee-consuming country. Explain what (according to you) has made coffee so damn popular? What’s with the sudden hype and love for coffee? What do you think contributed to the current (dare we say) ‘hipster’ love for coffee’s, latte art and barista?
We can’t agree with you on that. The Netherlands is one of the highest coffee consuming countries in the world. And we have a rich history with the product. Everybody in the Netherlands knows Douwe Egberts, a Dutch Coffee Brand. they have been roasting, blending and selling coffee since 1780. However, we were not a country that would drink coffee outside our home much, which happens a lot more now. That’s one the things that Starbucks has done well. I think we still get influenced a lot with trends that cross over from America.
How difficult is it to grow and roast coffee at a reasonable price, that also keeps the producer as happy as the consumer? Are there many other coffee roasters like yours in the Netherlands?
It’s not easy to grow high quality coffee at a low price, but that’s not what we’re aiming for. We select our coffees on quality and will always pay the farmer a premium price for this. Clients that buy our coffee know how much work and effort goes in the product and are always willing to pay that bit extra for this.
A lot of coffee roasters like us have opened up in recent years, many of them are our friends or people who we used to work with.
Why do you personally find it so important to do this? Has it been easier or more difficult when setting up your business?
Like you said in the previous question, it’s important to keep the producer happy. By visiting the producers we work with and by paying them a premium for their product, we create a bond and often friendships with them. We find this a very important part of our business. It helps them build a better future.
How difficult is it to function today , in a market and industry that seems saturated with new brands coming up all the time? What type of things are now very important as a commercial coffee roaster, to keep in mind that was maybe less important back then (when the craft wasn’t as hip as it is now)?
We opened our roastery just three years ago. We think that there was a lot more going on in specialty coffee in Amsterdam, than there is at the moment. It seems to have settled down a bit. What’s important for us as a company is to maintain the same attitude regardless. To show the customer, that we didn’t change in the past three years. We still believe quality and openness are the most important values of our company.
Finally, where is the industry headed right now, according to you? And how does White Label Coffee look to fulfill its ambition become a movement?
I think the industry is heading in the right direction. More people are becoming aware of the difference between commercial brands and local specialty roasters like ourselves. People are demanding higher standard for their product. I don’t think our ambition is to become a movement, we just want to roast and serve great coffees to our costumers and show what a different kind of tastes coffee can have.
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