“A barista can only fuck it up.”
A bold statement surely, from someone who by the way pays his rent and buys his food with the money he makes pressing shots at an espresso bar. But as befitting the Dutchman who said it (Olivier Vos: buzzcut, with thick glasses, and a determined enthusiasm that would take apart a floor in order to fix loose grout), there is a tremendous amount of logic to what sounds initially like a blustery provocation. Coffee – even the finest, most confident, most edifying – is still just roasted beans and water. There are three young men in the Netherlands who want to take the barista, whom they see as a part-TEDx presenter, part-birthday magician, out of the equation. They want people to make their own coffee, and to make coffee they can be proud of.
Okay, so it might be a bit more complicated than that. The trio founded Koffie Leute calling themselves “personal assistants on the way to the perfect cup of coffee.” For them, the perfect cup is full of “slow coffee”, a liquid made with 21st century supply chains and 19th century patience. “It’s not just taste, but the experience of coffee,” says Olivier. Their coffee is ground fresh and by hand, put into a cup via V60 (a conical pour-over coffee filter used by most serious baristas these days), and ideally enjoyed over conversation (and maybe a cigarette, as Dirk, the most hirsute and least talkative of the bunch demonstrated often during our chat). “Espresso bars are espresso,” explains Olivier. “But Dutch history is just a good cup of coffee.”
“The future of coffee looks an awful lot like its past.”
Not within the usual purview of The Tuqay, but exceptions must be made…