Coffee Night at the Torpedo Kitchen

Yesterday night, Foodtube's Ronald Hoeben hosted a discussion about coffee in the miniature Torpedo Theater in Amsterdam.

His guests were Edward Beumer and Erik Oosterhuis from specialty coffee place "Trakteren" in the J.P. Heijestraat and Tewis Simons, who founded Bocca coffee roasters with his brother.

Most of the recent history and basics in specialty coffee were discussed.

Tewis told how a coffee farmer they work with has innovated to be able to offer his customers any of his five varieties of coffee beans processed in any way they prefer. And to inspire other farmers as well, they arranged for a coffee farmer from Ethiopia to travel to this farm in Colombia so both farmers can compare methods an share new ideas.

Edward explained how the success of chains like Starbucks, and on a small Dutch scale the Coffee Company have tremendously helped to open the market for smaller more specialized and dedicated entrepreneurs who bring a higher quality of coffee to the public. Every time someone enters their shop to taste real specialty coffee for the very first time is a very rewarding experience and it shows that there is still a world to win.

For the major old family owned brands who provide practically all coffee to supermarkets and most cafe's, the newcomers in the roasting business are not a threat, just a very marginal noise on their screens. Nevertheless you see the big brands changing their image and packaging to also include "single origin" beans, and differentiating roast colors. At the same time, the huge companies are not a real threat for the micro roasters as the Illy's of the world can never logistically manage to get the freshest coffee to the customers at the same speed as local roasters can serve their local customers.

On the other hand, the current trend to roast ever lighter profiles might put off some part of the public with the acidity it brings to the cup.

Ten years ago, as Bocca just started, they were laughed at by some potential customers. "If I buy your beans, who will buy me my espresso machine and grinders?" one cafe owner asked them. This is one reason why Edward and Erik always bought their own equipment, so they can be independent of any supplier and buy only the coffee that they like themselves, just as the Bocca brothers only roast and sell beans that they personally find delicious.

All three guests at the table had stories about top rate restaurants, even with Michelin stars, who can't handle their beautiful espresso machines well enough to serve a decent cup of coffee at the end of an exquisite dinner, even though Bocca customers can send their unlimited staff to Bocca barista training for free.

Tewis Simons and his brother were even invited by the owners of such a star restaurant to demonstrate their way of preparing exceptional coffee drinks. There was surprise at the ease with which they could produce these, but at the end the conclusion was that "our guests are not ready for this excellent taste, it's too special for them."

Edward Beumer, Erik Oosterhuis, Ronald Hoeben

Tewis Simons, Edward Beumer

Tewis Simons, Edward Beumer

Erik Oosterhuis, Ronald Hoeben

Erik Oosterhuis

Tewis Simons, Edward Beumer

Edward Beumer

Tewis Simons, Edward Beumer

Edward Beumer

Intermission: filter coffee preparation

Erik Oosterhuis


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