Published by Tanya in Coffee Insurrection Hero · 2 September 2023
Tags: Coffee_Interview, Specialty_Coffee, Morgan_von_Mantripp, Porto, Portugal, Yvonne, Hamburg, Germany
Tags: Coffee_Interview, Specialty_Coffee, Morgan_von_Mantripp, Porto, Portugal, Yvonne, Hamburg, Germany
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
Von: Hey! My name is Morgan von Mantripp (the Von of Von and Vonnie). I’m from Wales, which is a small country in the United Kingdom. Right now, Yvonne and I are working on setting up our own coffee roastery and café in Porto, Portugal. I have worked within the coffee industry and community in a variety of roles, most recently at SO Coffee Roasters.
Vonnie: Hi! My name is Yvonne (the sweet version is „vonnie“) and I grew up in a small town near Hamburg, Germany. Right now, my job is working on our new project called „von&vonnie“, which will be a cafe and microroastery in Porto, opening (hopefully) in November.
2- When and why did coffee become important to you?
Von: I think this question is twofold for me, throughout my time at university coffee was very important to me functionally, I would often go to the library and pull late night sessions and would drink coffee as a means to stay productive – I would say coffee was very important to me here. However, at this point in my life coffee wasn’t something I necessarily saw as my career path. It wasn’t until I met Yvonne that I realised that coffee was something I really wanted to pursue as a profession, we visited a few coffee farms together as well as countless coffee shops and I became enamored by the minutia of the dedicated processes of production, roasting, brewing and tasting coffee. This is when coffee became important to me beyond the scope of functionality.
Vonnie: I always enjoyed coffee a lot, but I mean – who doesn‘t. The time where I really realised how important a good cup of coffee is to me, was, when I travelled through south-east-asia. My daily goal was literally to find the best cup of coffee wherever I was. On this journey I also had the opportunity to try lots of different traditional ways of drinking coffees and visited farms, which made me even more interested in the world of coffee.
3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
Von: Clearly, as generic as it may sound it was a Washed Kenyan. I remember always being a bit daunted by flavor descriptors because I never felt like I could taste them, I thought all coffee tasted the same and that people were slightly exaggerating what they could taste. However, this coffee completely changed my perspective, I remember it tasting exactly like blackcurrant squash, with complete clarity – a real eye opener for me. This is something I think is really important to the coffees we will select at Von and Vonnie Roastery, we will ensure that we have coffees that have clear flavour notes, clarity in coffee is one of the most important components to me.
Vonnie: This is so hard to say…but one cup I clearly remember was back in 2019. A Colombian ‘thermal shock’ Geisha from Diego Bermudez (of course), roasted by Public Coffee Roasters in Hamburg. It was the first time I tasted something so clearly exceptional – could have literally been tinned peaches. For the first time I believed there are actually more flavour notes in coffee than „coffee“.
4- What’s your favourite thing about going to work in the morning?
Von: Funnily enough, leading on from the following question I really love cupping and tasting coffee, I weirdly don’t drink that much coffee outside of cuppings or dialing in recipes. I really love when I can wake up and immerse myself in a sensory experience, it is such a great meditative way to start the day. If you are not completely present you will notice because you can’t taste the coffee’s as clearly, it’s a reminder for me to stay in the moment.
Vonnie: I say it as it is: My first coffee. But beyond that, as my role at von&vonnie will be mainly the baker, I am very excited to create yummy goodies, perfectly paired to the coffees we‘ll serve. I feel very privileged to have the freedom of creativity and the opportunity to try everyday something new and immerse myself fully into the whole notes of flavours, in coffee as well as in the baked goods we‘ll serve.
5- What’s your favourite brewing method and why?
Von: Pourover, I really love conical brewers, my go-to is usually the CAFEC Flower Dripper, I love the amazing flavor clarity this brewer presents and paired with their range of filter papers I can really dial in my recipe to get the best out of my beans. This is why at Von and Vonnie we will be exclusively using the Flower Dripper for our pourover option.
Vonnie: I absolutely love the Flair espresso machine! Every morning it’s the first thing I use and the whole process turned to such a routine for me. I actually enjoy the manual part and I love that I can take it with me to all my travels – especially in my holidays I love to enjoy coffee! I think it’s just so cool to brew the espresso on a big rock by the river, which also brings a lot more mindfulness and joy to the whole experience.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Von: Tough question! There’s one that comes to mind immediately and it’s a batch brew that I had from Prolog CPH. It was a washed Ethiopian, but I don’t know anymore than that. I had it to takeaway and wanted something quick for the walk through the city, I had always wanted to go to Denmark and this was my first day there so I was excited to get walking through the city. However, I remember taking a sip from this coffee and being truly astonished by the bright bergamot notes, the clarity was unlike anything I had ever tasted. The memory of this coffee is truly intertwined with my magical feelings towards being in such a wonderful city, and that surely helps the memory of the drink itself. I would love to have that coffee again, I just can’t find anything quite as good!
Vonnie: As a flat white with oat-milk is normally my go-to drink, I do have one very outstanding memory, which is more about the whole drink than just the coffee itself: It was at Public Space in Amsterdam and apart from the coffee, if I remember right it was a natural Kenyan, very tasty, full of berries and a beautiful body, their house-made oat-milk was the best I‘ve ever tried! Which I found very impressive, as actually most oat-milks on the open market are awful to drink with coffee – regardless if „Barista“ or not. So for me personally, this cup was perfect, cosy and so yummy, that I still crave it every now and then!
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favour coffee from? Why?
Von: Ethiopia, I really love the consistency of the coffees from here. I’m really into florality in coffee, as well as citric, stone fruit and high clarity. I also really enjoy the delicacy of the flavours, again if you’re not paying attention maybe you’re going to miss some of what this coffee has to offer. The more you pay attention – the better it tastes!
Vonnie: Normally, I enjoy different coffees in filter than in espresso. For filter I love very bright and citric coffees, which is often an Ethiopian or Colombian. In espresso I prefer berry notes, a full body and it can have a little bit of milk-chocolate, so I often tend to like coffees from Kenya and Costa Rica. BUT, all in all, I want to try to be as open minded as possible and don‘t like being stuck in flavour descriptions or origins.
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
Von: Like I said earlier, I don’t consume a massive amount of coffee anymore, so when I do I want it to be something really exceptional. I really love Rose Coffee Roasters for this reason, you can trust that everything you’re going to get from them is exceptional and roasted with the upmost care, carefully and fairly sourced. I highly recommend checking them out as a way to treat yourself (you deserve it!)
Vonnie: There are many amazing roasteries out there, but I would like to use my opportunity to promote something which is most important to me: A small roastery from Hamburg, called „The Coffee Board“, is owned by Nadine, who owns her own coffee farm in Kenya, pays her workers fairly, trades directly to Hamburg and roasts by herself. Beyond that, all her coffees are great; I just recently enjoyed one of hers. She surely is a big inspiration for me, also when it comes to support and speak about women in coffee, as there is still a lot of unfairness like in a lot of industries.
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
Von: I love what I do. I love making, tasting, roasting, and everything coffee. Every aspect of working in the coffee industry makes me happy. I always strive to do more coffee stuff even outside of working hours such as events. We spend so much time working, it takes up a majority of our lives – so why not spend it doing something we love? This is what I have learnt. I can do what I love for work.
Vonnie: That there are a lot of opinions out there and that‘s okay – my opinion is still valuable. Working in a lot of different coffee shops I always struggled with the different ways of doing .things and found it hard to find my own. I tried more to please my co-workers, which stopped me in developing and trusting my own skills. Also, something I really don‘t like is pretentiousness when it comes to coffee. The more you know about coffee, the better. But being humble about it is key. That‘s why von&vonnie won‘t be a place of pretentiousness at all, it will be an open and welcoming space with exceptional coffee for everybody – regardless your knowledge or your status inside the coffee community.
10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
Von: You know, had you asked me this question two weeks ago I would have laughed it off and said something like “COVID is over, why are you still asking this?” However, last week I got COVID again (karma). I think it is something we still have to be very considerate about, taking the appropriate procedures in cupping protocol and general hygiene to ensure that we are taking care.
Vonnie: Nowadays, I see COVID as a reminder to appreciate the small things in life – such as sitting in a cafe enjoying my drink. Anyway, I think we still shouldn‘t take this for granted and be prepared for future challenges which might not be a pandemic again, more likely extreme weather situations due to climate change.
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
Von: There has been an astronomical growth in the presence of specialty coffee in the past years, with most new places offering some form of specialty coffee. However, specialty coffee doesn’t necessarily mean all that much, there is no consideration of environmental, ethical or economic factors behind the coffee. I think that in the next 10 years there will be a much greater prevalence in the importance of sustainable agricultural practices, fair wages and economics within the industry – or at least I hope so!
Vonnie: In the past years specialty coffee was equal to „great“ coffee, now I feel like this is not the case anymore as more and more cafes are serving specialty coffee, but potentially not with the care and knowledge it requires. So how do we know where to find really good coffee? I think in the future we will treat specialty coffee even more as a luxury good (anyway, also because of climate change) and serve it more as an experience, in really high class cafes which separate from all the other countless cafes. I also hope that more factors become more important to the consumers such as sustainability, traceability and fair wages for every single worker.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Von: There’s certainly exciting times ahead, we have just launched Von and Vonnie which is our coffee brand that will be a roastery, coffee shop and online store. We aim to be a location that will host a range of events, educational courses, talks and more. I aim to be there. Right in the epicenter of everything Von and Vonnie. Roasting coffee, talking about coffee, giving courses, enjoying myself. This project is my dream, and I hope in ten years I will still be living my dream.
Vonnie: 10 years feels like a lifetime to me! Anyways, I hope in the meantime we accomplished everything we wish for „von&vonnie“ right now, which is mainly creating a loving open space for coffee enthusiasts, lovers and beginners to educate and inform about specialty coffee as well as consuming it. I have a lot more wishes which are too many to write down here, but to sum it up: I mainly hope I can be proud of what we‘ve did – not just for us personal, also for the sake of our planet, the community and our customers, who will define us.
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Von: Pay attention. Not just to others but to yourself. You are the best coach you could ask for especially within this industry. Pay attention to what you like and dislike, what you are doing when you are brewing, from the most minuscule difference in your brew such as the way you fold your paper filter – these details make a world of difference.
Vonnie: Without Morgan, I wouldn‘t believe in myself as much as I do now. If there is anything you would like to do in life but you think you are not good enough or not worth it – you probably are. Everybody (including me) has so many doubts, most of us just pretend not to. „Fake it till you make it“ is my way of getting over my own doubts, as all we need is confidence and trust in ourselves. The road ahead will include a lot of learning, but that’s the exciting part of it – for now, let’s fake it till we make it.