How long have you two been working together?
It’s been exactly 2.5 years now!
How do you two complement each other?
Ersin (E): I enjoy working with Hannes a lot, as he somehow always manages to stay on the calm side. He is a great support, and the king of multi-tasking. When somethings got off the rail I know that together with him, we will be able to fix it.
Hannes (H): Working with Ersin is a great pleasure. He is always hunting for the best possible coffee quality and manages a large part of our quality control. The amazing thing is that we are very much calibrated. In blind cuppings in 98% of the cases we find the same cups to be our favorites.
What drives you to work in coffee and remain in the industry for some years now?
E: We are lucky because the industry is very new, and there is so much to develop and improve — our job never really gets boring. Also, it is a relatively competitive industry, and there is very little written official information. You can always test, talk to other people, and learn a lot. That makes it rather fun!
H: I agree. The main advantage is there is no set rules and we have to test a lot – from souring green coffee, to roasting, to brewing. Coffee Circle is a great company where we employees are authorized with lots of responsibilities so we as individuals can continuously grow. As the company is young our tasks are manifold and it never gets boring.
If you could choose, who you like to have coffee with tomorrow morning?
E: I would say Tom Waits. He is my favorite character, and I can imagine he has millions of stories to share over a cup of coffee.
H: Andrea Illy. I would love to figure out if he really enjoys drinking his own companies coffee.
What do you drink when you don’t drink coffee?
E: I enjoy all kind of liquids. I love tea, in terms of hot beverages, and wine & beer, and distilled drinks in terms of cold! So, yeah, everything.
H: In winter I like herbal and fruit teas. In summer I like cold drinks but not so much the sugared refreshing drinks. That's why I love new brands such as selo that come up with less sugared options.
Is Berlin the place to live in?
E: I would say yes in a heartbeat. It being a multicultural city, inhabited by many politically sensitive people, makes you feel better. I also think it is a city that could fit to many different mood of yours. Which makes it more enjoyable.
H: It certainly is a fabulous place to live. It's great to live in a place where the coffee and generally drink & food community is so vivid and inspiring. That's why for the time being I couldn't imagine to live somewhere else.
What do you two hate about Berlin?
E: I would say the dark, grey, long winters. But it seems like this is changing!
H: Sometimes the general unfriendliness of the stressed out people here annoys me. But I guess that's somethings that you can find in all big cities.
Hannes, where do you come from, any chance you move back to the roots?
I come from the countryside some 30km away from Münster in the West of Germany. Right now, I feel pretty happy and settled in Berlin. I like to get out of Berlin for weekend trips and vacations but after two or three weeks I need to come back and enjoy the opportunities Berlin has to offer. So no urge to move back to the country right now.
Ersin, you lived in Istanbul before Berlin. The city in three words?
Love, hate, culture.
The advantages or disadvantages to develop a single roasting curve together with three roasters?
E: Mostly it has only advantages. Everyone has their own approach, and their own expectations. This usually keep things more dynamic, and eliminates repetition & vapidity.
H: It's certainly more fun to develop curves together and it can make it faster to find the optimal result. Everyone brings in his point of view and this can definitely help you to think outside the box.
Do you have any role models in or outside coffee, who do you admire and why?
E: Before coffee, music was my main interest. So I do have many musician in mind that I’ve been inspired by over the years. In terms of storytellings, Tom Waits is my favorite. But also soul & jazz musicians, such as Sam Cooke, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday always amaze me with their passion. On top of these, I really enjoy John Water’s characters in his movies & books.
H: Like most of us I follow Matt Perger, Scott Rao and James Hoffman since it is always refreshing to hear their thoughts about different aspects in coffee. I especially enjoy them because they usually have very rigorous viewpoints. Also I admire kaffeemacher.ch a lot for their dedication to spread coffee knowledge in German language. And till today I follow my friend and coach Patrik Rolf from April Coffee, he is one of the most ambitious person I've met in coffee and every time I see him and talk to him I get inspired a lot.
Do you believe that specialty coffee can be sold successfully in German retail?
E: It is certainly a bit tricky. Specialty coffee has a lot to tell on top of its wonderful taste. But the consumer needs to hear and see this to understand & experience it fully.
H: Yes, I believe in a success in the long run. Of course there are challenges, especially education of mainstream customers and additionally the supply chain is tricky to offer freshly roasted coffee, but in the long run customers will understand and willing to pay more for a better product.
Do you think its beneficial to cooperate across different brands and concepts and if yes - in what field?
E: I find this personally always useful. Everyone from different industries has their own expertises, and if you have an idea to combine these visions, the result could be really nice. In terms of coffee, I know that „algrano“ does a unique job. They create a platform in which they connect micro roasters with producers, and give them a unique chance to get great coffees. Their method is creating a joint container, which i think is a great idea. Also, coffee is part of everyones daily routine, and for that reason it gives us a unique chance to combine it with any lifestyle brand.
H: I always like the idea of using some "waste" products such as cascara from the coffee cherry and create a new product with it. Unfortunately, we have the legal ban in Europe currently. Apart from that, I'd definitely say that there could be more collaborating when it comes to the use of coffee production capacity. Many roasteries just use their machines for 25-50% of their capacity. I guess it's a German thing that some people are a bit narrow minded in this respect. I also like that some craft beer breweries serve other brands on their tab as well. This is something that you rarely find in coffee shops but from a customer point of view, that's really entertaining.
What statement would you like to address towards the commercial coffee industry?
E: You have the power to reach broader audience. Make a good use of it, care for the producers, and enable people to drink the right coffee.
H: That they have some challenging times ahead. If they don't change their models and offering and especially work together with the producers in a more sustainable manner they will continue to lose shares of the markets (which I don't mind).
What statement would you like to address towards the specialty coffee industry?
E: Let us be more connective, more extrovert, and fulfill the expectations of new consumers. Then we will be able to have more impact with what we do.
H: Sometimes I have the impression that we as specialty industry take ourselves too serious and too important. Our market share is still very low and all of us should be more open-minded and inclusive in order to grow our market and bring real benefits to producers.
Why are you looking forward to Monday mornings?
E: It reminds me that I am lucky to do something that I truly enjoy, and make a living doing it.
H: Because every week offers some new tasks & challenges. Due to the high amount we sample roast every week this also offers new coffee gems as well :)
What are you looking forward to next month?
E: Every new month is a new start. You can start doing new things, and be brave enough to make mistakes.
H: I am not so much looking for new months. What is more exciting for me is the arrivals of fresh green coffee which happens round about every 6 to 8 weeks. It's always exciting to quality control the arrival qualities and to refine the roast recipes for new coffees.
Anything else you would like to drop?
E: Let us drink good coffee consciously! It is up to us to create a change.
H: If you are not into specialty coffee yet, then you'd better start tasting and loving these coffees as soon as possible. At the moment high end coffee is still affordable and/or even undervalued. This will surely change during the next decade.
Photo credits: Viktor Strasse
Together with Bara Ernygrova the two roasters from Coffee Circle are responsible for creating selo roasted coffee. In a team they chose our roast coffee and developed the roast profile.
You can find our interview with Bara here.