Exploring Experimental Blends in Berlin


Upon taking the first tentative steps into Oslo Kaffebar, the newcomer gets an impression that something …experimental is taking place. Only this time the white labcoats have been traded for buttoned-up retroactive vintage collars, skinny jeans and the kind of über-cool scruffiness that only Gen Y can pull off. This is hipster of the wacky-funky-cool variety that’s being refined in Berlin’s Mitte district. But while the daggy science labcoats are out, acute attention to method and precision are most definitely there to stay. Oh yeah, and a bunch of the baristas are still wearing the geek glasses, but hey they’re hipsters, what can you do?

Added to this is a good measure of unbridled passion for the art of coffee making which seems to flow through the entire joint, dripping from the bare cement ceiling and through the jungle of power cables that suspend low-hung halogen lamps and shed light on the whole operation.

The result of all this calculated madness manifests itself in the form of approving macbook-toting coffee hipsters cramming themselves into every corner. This is their way of declaring this their second office/living room. But whether it’s for work or play, everyone  comes here to multi-task –this means tuning out from distractions, plugging-in to what they love and drinking freaking awesome coffee –a killer combo that will ultimately come to define this generation of hi-tech connoisseurs.

Says Steve Morris, Head Barista at Oslo, ‘When I started working in specialty coffee it had just landed in Berlin, and there was this attitude that specialty meant avoiding bitter coffee at all costs. So this meant cutting shots short left right and centre to stay in that safe ristretto zone. Whereas nowadays you see local baristas learning that they can extract a lot more from the coffee with bigger shots to maximise the hidden potential of say, Mexican and Slovenian beans and all kind of crazy stuff. And once they start experimenting with the full flavour spectrum, the reaction is like ‘whoa, that tastes amazing, let’s change up!’

With retro-jive beats pulsating in the background to keep the crew behind the bar head-bopping their way through their day, the ambience of this laid-back coffee lab isn’t what keeps the rest of the country watching its every move. Behind the bar is where these guys really let their caffeine-fuelled madness run wild, taking heed of no rules but their own in the pursuit of always newer and greater forms of brewed perfection that Berliners are fast coming to know and love. At the root of all their concoctions is a Bonanza Coffee espresso complemented by a rotating guest espresso from different roasters, just to keep the baristas chomping at the bit for their next challenge. Because this is one hipster coffee bar where the status quo seems to be there only to be challenged, messed around with, fine-tuned and finally shaped into something…BETTER!!


Words: Josh Morshead

Images: ‘Borrowed’ from Oslo Kaffebar’s Facebook site:)

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