What if we told you about a cafe unlike any other we’ve featured here at Build-Outs Of Summer? It’s a cafe built into a pre-war structure, overlooking a mosque courtyard, in the Cretan city of Chania. Using super modern gear and pairing that with an underlying reverence for specialty coffee, this space is home to several Greek national barista championship finalists, as well as the reigning 2015 Greek Ibrik/Cezve champion.
The space is a total mix of old and new, from high-end craftsman denim to a decidedly old-world location (“behind the covered market and adjacent to the mosque”). Specialty coffee fits into all kinds of environments, from small town Main Street to the canyons of Manhattan, to ancient locations born anew with the prospect of delicious coffee. This is Kross Coffee Works in Chania, Crete.
As told to Sprudge by Sotos Michael.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We are a passionate group of baristas who started out in late 2010 on the island of Crete in Greece. Kross Coffee Works is our 4th venture and is so far the one that represents us the best. We wanted to create a space where the barista community as well as coffee lovers could meet and enjoy “coffee” in its wider sense. Kross will be offering a full range of brewing equipment for sale as well as a seasonal selection of coffee beans roasted by Ozone Coffee Roasters in London to buy and take home.
Our idea for baristas at Kross was to have our competition baristas run the space. We wanted to create a space where we can share the knowledge and speak coffee while tasking other things at the same time. Education is very important to us and competing at the national and world championship level has really taken us forward because a lot of practise and studying is involved. Everyone gains from it.
We have been working very hard over the past couple of years amidst a difficult financial situation in Greece to convey to people that they should really be demanding a lot more of the product they enjoy daily. There is no room for average.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We were on the lookout for a new space but wanted something with character. This space ticked all boxes. It is situated in the “old town” of Chania. It’s exactly adjacent to a mosque and dates back to before the 2nd World War. We always knew it would be a challenge given the area to get the proper licensing and a lot of work was involved structurally. The space had been used by a variety of proprietors before and was in dire need of stripping back to find its “roots” and rebuild it. Knowing the history of the space, we started tearing down plastered walls and tiled floors to find what we were sure was there. A building made of stone carefully put in place by craftsmen of the time.
We decided to keep everything open to the eye and show off the stone walls. The windows at the side of the shop look into the courtyard of the mosque next to us and in the morning let the sun shine through on to our bar where a custom-painted matte white La Marzocco FB80 sits.
The seating space is made up of one large monastery-style table where all gather around. Handcrafted white metal legs hold up the almost 3,5-metre-long eucalyptus tree log table. Our doors open completely letting the inside space flow onto the outdoor pedestrian-only alleyway. The same tranquil sense of the inside takes up the outside space where wooden benches fit into the current surroundings. We didn’t want tables and chairs everywhere. We wanted to create a space where even someone walking by could stop, take a breather, and move on and need to glance twice before realising he or she was sat at a coffee shop. Its worth mentioning that all the furniture is handcrafted locally.
What’s your approach to coffee?
What I really believe in is taste. The more you taste the more you learn. We stay seasonal and rotate the coffees we have on offer both to brew and to buy to take home. Our goal is for people to taste a lot and in as many ways possible. Educate their palates. Along with our customers, we further educate and challenge and question ourselves. The whole philosophy with Kross was to find where “X marks the spot” for each coffee and each recipe, but realising at the same time and trying to convey that the X is never ever constant. Where X marks the spot today changes tomorrow and the hunt begins again. A new coffee arrives, a new challenge begins.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Our bar features a 3-group custom matte white painted La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine, plus Mahlkoenig EK43, Mahlkoenig K30, and Mazzer Robur E grinders. Acaia Pearl scales for weighing doses and brewing and Acaia Lunar scales (expecting delivery) for weighing shots.
One thing we really put emphasis on is Ibrik/Cezve coffee which is prepared on an open flame in traditional copper Ibriks. We hold the current 2015 Greek Champion title and 4th place in the World Championship and are really keen on showcasing traditional brew methods. Two of our other baristas ranked 5th and 7th in this year’s Greek Barista Championship as well as 4th in the 2014 Greek Barista Championship.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Hopefully we will be opening doors in the 1st week of August of this year.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
All the work has been done by craftsmen who either work alone or with an extra pair of “hands”. So a lot of care has gone into every single detail. Our architect, Lyto Rodousaki, has designed the space and coordinated the work each craftsman put into it.
Another important mention is that Kross is an outlet of Shuttle & Loom Denim Works, which is a craftsman workwear and accessories range created by Emmanuela Gombaki.