'The Backroom Talks' Aftermath

Last week, Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers hosted ‘The Backroom Talks’ for the first time.

We did that as a fringe event for CoLab:Berlin.

CoLab: is a seminar series of the Barista Guild of Europe, which combines a full day of compelling educational content with 2 days on either side to discover the host city’s coffee community and culture.

The Barista Guild of Europe is an association of the Speciality Coffee Association(SCA) Its primary goal is to foster community and professionalism among people whose income derives from making cups of speciality-grade coffee. That includes spreading coffee education, providing career support and focusing on sustainability.

During CoLab:Berlin, a lot of speciality cafés got involved. Cuppings, food pairing and first aid machine repair workshops, to name just a few events that were open to the public.

So was ‘The Backroom Talks’ at Father Carpenter. Over the course of 5 hours, 6 speakers cupped, informed, criticised and exchanged - with an audience of approx. 60 people. We were stoked to see not only coffee professionals and industry related friends, but also a bunch of new faces and customers of Berlin’s speciality coffee scene.

Our aim in hosting this sort of event was, to create a platform to share knowledge and blatantly speak about ideas and ideals, but also open up about worries and concerns that affect our industry and the people in it.

I feel, we, all together, planted seeds that day, but a seed needs water and nurturing. A day of presentations and talks means nothing if it isn’t acted upon, isn’t developed, isn’t nurtured. This is just the beginning of a journey, we want to go with you. So, yer. We decided to continue hosting this kind of event!

We are going to change the structure of the upcoming events a notch. We learned about the importance of Q/As right after a talk, we’re also going to adjust the time frames and we want to have ‘The Backroom Talks’ as accessible to as any possible, so we will be focusing on Friday afternoons. We also like beers and we figured Fridays are a good day to have beers.


Nevertheless, we are more than happy to receive feedback from everyone who attended ‘The Backroom Talks’. This is not a one-man-show, we want to set this stage, together with you, for all of us.

The Backroom Talks x CoLab Berlin

Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers will be hosting a variety of talks and discussions aimed at the promotion of sharing knowledge, ideas, ideals, developments, worries and concerns within speciality coffee.
We want to encourage the industry to learn from each other: professionally as well as personally.

Come along and contribute or just lean back and enjoy.


Running order and talk descriptions for ‘The Backroom Talks’ at Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers

12:00-13:00 Fjord Coffee Cupping (w. talk on drum speeds and their effect on development)
13:00 Philipp Reichel
13:30 Peter Duran
14:00 Hannes Fendrich (w. cupping)
14:30 Discussion/Q&A
15:00 Susie Kealy
15:30 Kresten Thogersen
16:00 Maren Ernst
16:30 Final Discussion/Q&A
17:00 End

Philipp Reichel - Owner of Markthalle 9’s coffee mecca and roaster at ‘Kaffee 9’, is going to talk about networks in Berlin and Germany. He wants to review structures to promote a healthier and more sustainable coffee economy, especially focussing on green coffee taxes.

Peter Duran - Owner of Isla Café, probably the only island of peace and pleasure on Neukölln’s busiest street Hermannstraße, will give us an insight on comprehensive sustainability in the coffee industry from the perspective of a café owner. He will discuss questions like What kind of food offer we and how we source it, how products are packaged and delivered and what prospects we offer our staff.

Hannes Fendrich - Winner of 2013’s and 2015’s German Brewers Cup and roaster at Coffee Circle, will enlighten us with a talk about light roasting on an industry size roast machine. He’ll give us an insight on the structure, organisation and procedures of a semi-industrial roastery. Of course he’s also going to let us taste his produce of the latest harvest from Yirgacheffe.

Susie Kealy - Former 3FE legend and nowadays The Barn hero Susie, will tell us about how the industry becomes interested in different sections of the process and journey of coffee and how she looked into all that, as she just competed in the Irish Barista Championships - Learning by understanding the journey.

Kresten Thogersen - Owner of Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers and Fjord Coffee Roasters, who came a long way from Melbourne via London to Berlin years back, is going to shed some light on the importance of systems - in the workspace and mind. He will target questions like ‘What is a system? Why, when and how is it created?’ and evaluate other topics, such as motivation, social capital, ego depletion and productivity.

Maren Ernst - Founder and head roaster of Ernst Kaffeeröster in Cologne, business expert and heavy coffee bags carrying superwoman, will under the slogan „what is my cake - what is my market“ talk about the challenges of a fast changing specialty coffee world by looking at market segmentation, customer clusters and their needs and barriers.

'Hire for attitude, train for skills' - The Rookie Program

As the speciality coffee scene of Berlin has evolved drastically over the course of the past few years, we still find ourselves employing mainly non-german staff.

That is, for one, because Germany’s speciality coffee scene is still relatively young. Therefore there’s only very few German speaking baristas who are equipped and knowledgeable enough to be recognised in the industry.

A large number of Berlin’s speciality coffee shops are being opened by foreign coffee professionals, who went through an intensive training in their country of origin, who seem to seek German speaking staff but the selection of German speaking barista professionals is limited due to the ‘2-3 years experience minimum’ that is usually advertised. This in turn makes it hard to get the foot in the door and and get beyond the ‘Latte Macchiato’ coffee world. There is a demand for german speaking coffee professionals, but there hasn’t been a solid platform or entry program that has enabled the transition from ‘average coffee’ to delicious, so to speak, speciality coffee.

Even though the German chapter of the SCA(former SCAE) offers educational programs, (Coffee Diploma) it might not be the most sustainable and reliable way of getting German hospitality workers involved. The costs of one class go up to 225€ and are in most cases paid by the participant. Feeling hesitation to invest that amount of money in a certificate, that doesn’t necessarily lead to employment, seems understandable.

But the interdependencies between Berlin’s cafes seeking German staff and German staff not getting a foot in the door, because of their lack of training, seem perfectly unreasonable.

It’s in a cafe’s best interest to have workers that can one, produce consistently toothsome goods, and two, can communicate with the guests.

The advantages of getting untrained, but passionate and dedicated staff into your business are substantial. Not only because you can train unformed, young people specifically the way your business requirements need them to be. The influence on and the marginal gain for your business throughout diverse non-hospitality backgrounds, have a significant impact on your business’s development.
Acknowledging these flattering upsides of creating a team on your terms, led us to starting ‘The Rookie Program’. We want to give enthusiastic people the chance to work in a speciality cafe (part-time/full-time), starting with floor training, and then step by step gathering a solid understanding of the fundamentals that make a great hospitality worker.

We want to hire for attitude, train for skills and increase the quality of Berlin’s coffee scene and hospitality.

An inaugural blog post.

This section of our website will be a stream of thought so to say.. There will be little to no editing, and the content will range from espresso extraction to sequential contrast effect to the flavour of birch smoke when compared to pine smoke. 

There will be topics and views that may be controversial, offensive, or just straight up blunt, and therefore we wish to express an early 'don't be a big baby' type apology. 

If there is anything of interest posted here, and you feel like discussing it further then by all means send us an email and we'll be more than happy to get nice and deep into it, into the subjects juicy core. 

To start things off, here is a picture of a lama unicorn.