It only seems fitting that today is International Coffee Day, and here I am getting the chance this month to share the story of 19grams, an international coffee roaster located in Berlin. This is just our second featured roaster from Europe, and the very first from the great country of Germany!
If it wasn’t for Instagram and the incredible coffee community I have found myself a part of I don’t know how I would ever be able to discover so many great coffee roasters, whose story I am excited to share with you. I honestly believe that the specialty coffee community on social media is one of the best in the world.
It was here that I first got connected with the team at 19grams, and after a number of conversations found myself enjoying their coffee here at home in Calgary! Specialty Coffee is such a global experience. Coffee grown in Africa, was then roasted in Europe, and enjoyed in North America. In this season we find ourselves in where perhaps we can’t travel…that doesn’t mean our coffee cant!
So I reached out to 19grams and wanted to be able to feature them on my site. And voila, they are the Coffee Roaster of the Month for October, and you can read all about them below.
Hey 19grams, so great to get the chance to connect with you! So, tell us a little more about yourself. How did this all begin?
The company 19grams was founded in 2002 by the two founders Sascha Spittel and Robert Stock. The two are surfers and were traveling in Costa Rica when they first had real contact with Specialty Coffee. In Germany, this was not even a topic at the time, but in the USA there were tendencies of people who wanted to go deeper in discovering more about coffee and its different taste dimensions that could be influenced by various factors in the growth, farming and production process. 19grams and Tres Cabezas were pioneers in bringing Specialty Coffee directly from the farms to Germany to roast it here. From the beginning, 19grams had the idea of direct trade as a core value, as well as transparency and producing high-quality coffees. These were in first place of the fundamental idea of our Berlin-based cafés and roastery.
So maybe I’m the only one wondering, but how did you come up with the name 19grams?
During the development of Specialty Coffee, we had the opportunity to take two colleagues on board who came from London and had brought the name “19grams” with them. 19grams was the amount of coffee you needed for a double espresso and the entrepreneurial strategy was then also developed from that concept.
Tell our readers, when did your first roaster/cafe open? How many do you have now in Berling/Germany?
In 2002, the original Tres Cabezas Café was built in the Boxhagener Straße 74 in Friedrichshain, Berlin. It all started there with the sale of coffee, simply as a daily serving. The two founders were living their dream lifestyle of combining buying coffee with surfing. They worked with coffee for 10 years, living abroad and learning on their own coffee farm in Costa Rica. This is how the café was opened and grew, supported by loyal customers in Friedrichshain, with increasing skill, passion and discovery that led us to where we are today. We have four cafes in total, in Berlin, with a fifth station in the works.
Having had the chance recently to get my hands on a few bags of your coffee, I must admit I was really impressed. Can you share more about what equipment you roast on, and tell us about your philosophy when it comes to roasting?
We roast with our trusted PROBAT UG22 roaster two to three days a week, depending on the quantities on demand. Our roast style is medium and fully developed. This is how we best bring out the natural flavour profile – terroir, processing method, sweeteners and acids. Our roasting team creates a roast profile with an appreciation for the brilliant work of the farmer. Our espresso roasts are slightly more evolved than our filter roasts, in order to work on any espresso machine. Our roasters work closely with our bar crew, and offer regular workshops and cuppings so that you, the coffee drinker, are served the best coffee possible.
In your opinion, what’s the specialty coffee community like in Berlin/Germany? What do you love?
It is an incredibly exciting, wide and diverse scene to be a part of. There is a wide range of amazing cafés to meet and discover more about, and never a shortage of good coffee. We believe, though, that the heart behind it is what will make the difference in the end. Developing lasting relationships with the farmers in the industry, informing our customers about the origin and where the coffee is coming from, and creating an open and informative space, is important to us. We also hold strong to the importance of community, and the coffee culture in Berlin allows you to connect with other people in the industry, share passion and knowledge on the journey of discovering more about a product that we are passionate about, as well as collaborating and hosting events, such as coffee festivals, where we can build that community and connection.
I see on your site such an incredible variety when it comes to the coffees you offer. You have everything from pods/capsules to multiple Geisha coffees. Why do you feel it is important to offer such a variety of products? How do you see this helping 19grams in reaching a broader demographic? How do you see this benefiting the specialty coffee market?
We want our coffee to be attainable to everyone and are focussed on maintaining a full and exciting approach / experience when it comes to our range. By offering a larger range of coffees with their varying tasting notes and roast profiles, we are able to meet the desires of our customers / their preferences and also provide them with the opportunity to discover new coffees – especially those that are more rare, like our Geisha coffees. We, ourselves, also just enjoy discovering new coffees and changing our offering selection according to the seasons. In our approach to the industry, it is one of our highest goals to move people towards supporting sustainable & fair-trade coffee farmers, which will then make a more positive impact on our contribution to the coffee industry and, ultimately, the earth.
So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
Two of our newest and most special coffees on the shelf are our Xingang Espresso and Filter from Yunnan China. The Xingang is not only an extraordinary new coffee with an amazing story behind it, but we also have the incredible honour of being the only ones outside of China to roast this lot.
Yunnan is a very young field of experimentation for Specialty Coffee with great strength and great potential. Xingang Farm is run by Yenai and her eldest daughter Zhaomei and covers an area of 28 hectares, and we have really enjoyed partnering with this inspiring project and the women that are leading it. We have loved roasting, tasting and discovering the unique flavours and cup profiles of these coffees.
Looking forward beyond COVID-19 what do you see as some of the emerging trends or new initiatives that will shape the future of specialty coffee?
Due to the drop in sales versus purchasing of green coffee for many roasteries during the pandemic, we have noticed trends rising in more conscious buying and storing of coffee. Freezing coffee has been a concept that we are becoming increasingly interested in and people are also asking more questions regarding the industry, as they have had more time, over the last couple of years, to think about their impact in the world and small / sustainable businesses and how to support the people behind them.
We look forward to re-introducing our barista & coffee training workshops and sensory training / coffee tastings again now that regulations are easing up, as this also gives people the opportunity to come into closer contact with our company and become more informed about Specialty Coffee. It encourages people to learn about why it is important to place more emphasis on fair and direct trade & sustainability in trading and production, and also get to know more about the farmers and workers behind what they are buying and drinking.
You have done much to help shape the specialty coffee culture. What would you love to see change as it pertains to specialty coffee?
Again, besides striving for excellence in our work, we believe that an increase in awareness and a rise in the desire to make a more positive impact in coffee communities around the world is of the utmost importance. Our goal is to continue to grow in our relationships with farmers of the different origins, and to increase our reach in promoting the importance of fair-trade by paying higher prices to the farmers, and staying true to our goal of sustainability, whilst maintaining a high standard in the world of Specialty Coffee and the amazing coffee explorations and experiences that it has to offer.
Tell the readers of Commonly Coffee about some of your recent accomplishments. Or any upcoming announcements?
One of the things we are most excited about this year is our Coffee Advent Calendar that will be sweeping in with its Christmas spirit later in the year – it is already available on pre-order! Our roasters and baristas have taken special care to put together an exciting overview of the world’s best coffees: 24 days – 24 Origins – 24 different farms – 24 unique Arabica coffees. The calendars are available in an espresso, filter and capsule version.
In addition to each coffee that one can start each day with, there is interesting background information about their origin and processing on our Advent Calendar website. You will also find a small aroma and flavour description for the roasted coffees directly in the calendar. Exclusively for this product, there is a website where you can find new information, videos, recipes and exciting stories about the coffees, the farms, the roasting process and our roastery every day. This is one of our favourite products to release each year and we are also very excited about the growth and progress that we have made to reach what we have in store for our coffee lovers this year!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
We are incredibly thankful to every individual that takes the time to discover more about and support businesses like us in the coffee industry. We want to keep placing emphasis on the importance of community and connecting with people, and we are thankful for a product that not only makes the world a happier place, but also has such an amazing impact on supporting families around the world, in their role of coffee farming and production. With our support and constant pursuit of new ideas, we can keep this incredible culture alive and flourishing. There is no limit to what we can learn, and we look forward to roasting and brewing many more coffees for you.
Massive thanks to you for featuring us on your blog! Swing by Berlin sometime for a cup of bloody good coffee brewed by your friends at 19grams 🙂
Find their beans: If you’re looking to get your hands on some beans then definitely check out their web-store for what they’re currently roasting!
I just want to say a huge thank you to the entire team at 19grams for sharing more about themselves and for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in Berlin, Germany. Keep up the great work!