“Zero waste” cafes are all the rage right now, and Berlin remains one of the hottest coffee cities in the world. Put the two together and you've got Isla Coffee, where “specialty coffee and other similar products that are intrinsically linked to sustainability through quality.” It's located out near the abandoned Templehof airport, currently enjoying a second life as an Instagram darling.
As told to Sprudge by Peter Duran of Isla Coffee.
For those who aren't familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Isla is the first instance of a humble, yet innovative approach to harmonious gastronomy in Berlin. It is our goal to:
- Implement a model in which a “no-waste” cafe is realized. This will be an ongoing experiment, using systems design and other methods to measure inputs and outputs, and tweak the “system” in our cafe to be as efficient as possible.
- Give employees the freedom to pursue their goals, develop the skills to achieve them and support them in this.
- Showcase products that are truly sustainable and we feel have real market potential, yet haven't been given proper attention.
- Bring customers closer to be environmentally “positive,” instead of a burden, though great service, delicious products and an inviting environment, in which we engage instead of preach.
We are convinced that if specialty coffee and other similar products that are intrinsically linked to sustainability through quality are able to break out of the niche they currently find themselves in, there is real potential to upscale the positive impacts of these products, which will lead to more positive outcomes for all of those involved.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
At the moment, the space is currently a vegan cafe. However, the previous owner was limited in terms of funding and went into business right away to get some cash flowing. As such, the place came together in a bit of an improvised fashion. Since the handover is taking place relatively quickly, a lot of work will be left to us. We'll have to completely redo the floors, a new counter and work space, and move the kitchen from the front to the back of the house. Most importantly we've got to make the space as warm and inviting as possible, since it's quite dark right now—this is even more of a priority since we're located on a very busy, loud street and we want to give our guests a respite from the chaos. So, two colleagues of ours that are former stage light technicians are helping us breathe some new life into the place. We've got a great terrace in the back that gets the afternoon sun once it's disappeared from the front—Berliners chase the almighty, not-so-ever-present sun. We're located in a very mixed area right next to the former Templehof airport, populated by young foreigners like myself, a sizeable Turkish and Arab community, alongside longtime Berlin residents.
What's your approach to coffee?
Our approach to coffee is the same as that towards every other product in the cafe. We serve seasonal products, that we find tasty and that are traceable—regionality and organic are also priorities, but are sometimes difficult to combine with one another. We do our best. We'll serve espresso and filter from different roasters at the beginning and once my partner is up and running with his roastery, we'll buy directly from him. We're also going to have amazing draft coffee from Brewbox Berlin and some tasty cold brew from Good Spirits Beverages.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Our local distributor has been nice enough to set us up with the new La Marzocco Linea PB with the Auto Brew Ratio technology and a PEAK grinder from Mahlkönig. I think these two pieces of equipment will not only help us make more tasty coffee, but also achieve more consistency, which will in the end lead us to wasting less coffee. Another thing I'm really excited about is our water filter. It's a proprietary technology made by a friend of ours, Cory Andreen. He's really switched on to the problems with typical water filtration solutions and has come up with a great unit that does the job better.
What's your hopeful target opening date/month?
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
Beda and Elias from Studio-U are doing our lighting, interior and terrace. These guys are absolute upcycling bosses and have an eye for design. SHIO is a friend who also does upcycled fashion and is making up some lovely aprons, both cut for guys and gals—trust me, this has been an issue in the past. Our baker, Kaya, is also a great graphic designer and has taken care of our logo and CI in general.
Photos courtesy of Peter Duran.