Published by Tanya in Coffee Insurrection Hero · 15 September 2021
Tags: KenBraz, August63, Berlin, Interview, SpecialtyCoffeeRoasters
Tags: KenBraz, August63, Berlin, Interview, SpecialtyCoffeeRoasters
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
My name is Ken, originally from Luxembourg and living in Berlin since 2015 (with a small break of 7 months) . I am currently working on starting up my own company called August 63. August 63 is a specialty coffee roastery which focuses on making good coffee easier accessible to people, who are normally used to drinking commercial coffee. August 63 is going to be a roastery and a mobile coffee bar, which gives me the opportunity to serve my coffee on local markets, cultural - and corporate events.
2- When and why did coffee become important to you?
Coffee got my attention the first time, when I moved to Berlin. Before Berlin, during my time at high school in Luxembourg I was used to drinking shitty pad coffee or coffee from the vending machine. During my university, we had a course about social businesses and NGO’s. During that powerpoint presentation, our teacher showed us a slide about coffee start up, which didn’t only sell their own roasted coffee, but were also building water fountains and helping setting up education centers in coffee origins. I was so curious about that start up that I immediately ordered coffee from them and tried it.
3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
The coffee I orderd from that online shop I just talked about, was that first coffee I had, that was more than “just a cup of coffee” - a washed ethiopian from Guji which had this amazing floral and tea-ish notes, something that I never had before. Me and my taste buds immediately fell in love !
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
Since I’m building up my own company at the moment, every morning is super exciting and I have so much motivation and good mood in order to create something amazing! I love being around people, talk with them about their lives and help them understand coffee better. The coffee scene is so fascinating, because I meet a lot of interesting people, coming from all parts of the world and having a different story - but somehow we all connect with each other because of this beautiful product called coffee.
5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
Personally, I don’t really have a favorite brewing method - let’s say I have phases, where I have one particular brewing tool I use every day. Right now, for a couple of weeks, I brew my coffee with a moccamaster. I live with my girlfriend, her sister and her boyfriend and it’s just so convenient to brew bigger batches all together.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Such a difficult question - I think it was a chicho gayo from Panama from the famous finca hartmann. I roasted that coffee myself and it was such an amazing experience, because I was new to the coffee roasting game and I managed to properly roast that very complex coffee and it just made me so happy! :D
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
I’d say Kenya - a very clean washed coffee from Kenya can be so refreshing and interesting! It’s difficult to find really good kenyan coffees which don’t taste like tomatoes, BUT once you have a clean cup, I love it more than any other origin.
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
Rozali Coffee - David is such a nice guy, experimenting with a lot of interesting coffees & different fermentation processes. Rozali is still one of the newcomers in the coffee game, but they really show how special coffee can taste!
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
Apart from the complexity of the whole coffee craft, I have to say that it is - dealing with people. Dealing with your bosses, your colleagues and your guests. You really have to be very patient and understanding AND you gotta be very stress resistant, because weekend shifts can be quite exhausting! haha
10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
During the first lockdown in march, the situation for me was alright.- I still had my job but work was slow and people were very tense when they entered the shop. There was this insecurity and far, that you could get infected, even though I have to say that my bosses took all the precautions in order to keep us safe. I was very down, when the German brewers cup was cancelled/postponed, because I’ve been training a lot the months before, but yeah. During the next lockdown in november, this changed - together with my gf, her sister and her boyfriend, we decided to move to Mallorca, to a small house in the nature and to escape the “big city pandemic vibes” - So we moved there in february and I started working on becoming self employed with my own company. That’s when I started writing a business plan, getting coaching and worked on becoming a better coffee roaster and person. Now we’re back in Berlin and I’m about to launch a crowdfunding campaign in order to get August 63 to be launched! With the crowdfunding campaign, I need support for the crowd in order to gather the financial support for the mobile coffee bar I am planning to do and to buy the best green coffee.
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
I am very optimistic that in 10 years more people, who are now drinking commercial coffee, have switched to higher quality and more sustainable coffee. So I am sure that the specialty coffee industry will grow bigger and become the “new normal”. I think that right now more and more people are becoming more aware of what they are consuming - their clothes, their food and their drinks. With us, baristas, roasters or coffee people in general, we can help people get educated about coffee and show them that coffee doesn’t only have to taste bitter and roasty.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I still see myself working with coffee. Hopefully August 63 will be very well established in the world of coffee and that I can help more and more people to get fascinated about the best product in the world!
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Just go for it - Always keep your eyes and ears, learn a lot and never think that you learnt enough! Coffee is so complex and it’s a very vivid product. From year to year, there’s new developments, there are new fermentation processes, new technologies and new coffee beverages. It’s an exciting trip and once you decide to go for it, you just don’t want to go back to bad coffee anymore! ;)