Friday 27 February | 2015
Valentine’s Day in Berlin – a city that has fallen madly in love with coffee. Sydney and Melbourne take their daily caffeine addictions seriously, and San Francisco too, but Berlin is heading to a whole new level – think third wave coffee, custom roasting, scales and thermometers, competitions and cupping events – all this now offered at your local café.
Leading the pack is The Barn, which has an awfully casual name for being a sophisticated laboratory dedicated to the pursuit of perfect coffee in Berlin Mitte. Easily qualifying as one of the leading micro roasters in Germany, the Barn crew are coffee fanatics, eager to please you with a Kalita, AeroPress, Japanese siphon, or just an ordinary cappuccino.
Fanatical is no exaggeration. There is no music here, because why distract from the sensory experience? Laptops are banned, and so are strollers apparently. Sugar is also against The Barn’s morals, you will not find it easily. We saw a guy who brought a carton of milk with him too. This place is brave, and full of character, just like the coffee it serves.
Rules also extend to the staff, in their uniform of brown check shirts, with the grind barista sporting a heavy duty apron. Names are called an exact 30 seconds before the coffee is ready, so that you can observe the pour. Afterwards, the cleaning routines reach religious levels.
This week’s beans are from Kenya and Rwanda. Both are unique but Rwanda is really special – intense and clean, with notes of chocolate and cherry but let us simplify – this macchiato is as pretty as a painting, but delivers a smack in the face that makes you want to swear before going back for more.
Origin Kenya is more rounded and sweeter, but still takes control over the milkier flat white. These new age brews are so different, they will make you rethink what you know about coffee, which is likely another objective of the Barn. And have no fear – the caffeine crew here are happy to provide explanations, plus there are plenty of info cards to read too.
The beans are sourced directly from the farms and are not mixed, ensuring purity and allowing the individual flavours of nature to be fully represented in every cup. The 1950’s roasting machine, along with various chemistry equipment lining the open benches, mean that you are also in for a great show.
What’s to eat? Replace sugar with a luxe sandwich, stuffed croissant, or fluffy slices of carrot cake and dark chocolate almond loaf. We opt for the latter, and it feels like food matches the coffee, which might be more than a coincidence.
Where the future of coffee is brewing.
The brew menu in brief is here: