The Low Countries have no shortage of beer, and there is coffee aplenty, but coffee beer? That combination is as rare here as fries with ketchup (as opposed to mayonnaise, curry, or satay sauce). Earlier this year Stefan Coster, a specialty roaster with nearly a decade’s experience in the Netherlands’ coffee industry, made a bold move to change that.
For the whole story, Sprudge spoke with Coster at his Leidschendam roastery in the outskirts of The Hague. The beer proved easy to drink and invigorating for a weekday morning, or—as the word sounds in local dialect of the construction workers who inspired the tronie of Koffie Dick—moggûh!
How did you and Eiber Bier come up with Koffie Dick?
We’re both small businesses doing things in our own city, focusing on The Hague. Two months after I started Roast Factory in June 2016, I found Eiber Bier on the internet. I sent [Eiber Bier brewer] Jasper van den Burg an email saying that we should meet and maybe we could do something—I was a new in the kid on the block, he was a new kid on the block. He came over, we had a cup of coffee, and I think after five minutes, we decided to make a coffee beer. And after 10 minutes, we decided we should make coffee beer that hasn’t really been done before.
Tell us about the combination.
We went the opposite direction of most coffee beers. I chose the Kenyan coffee that I roast—it’s an SL-34 and SL-28 called Kagongo—because of the fruitiness in it. Jasper started off with a wheat beer because almost everyone else starts out with a stout. From there, we just started testing in 20-liter beer tanks. We began by adding some cold brew to the beer after a week, and it tasted really bad. Then we tried adding a little bit less after two weeks, and we experimented with a lot of things. After almost a year of experimenting, Koffie Dick was born.
How would you describe its taste?
Eiber Bier uses a lot of hops, so you get the bitterness from the hops, not from the coffee. All the fruity flavors come from the coffee. Once you open the bottle, you smell the coffee scents. The first sip you think, “There’s no coffee in this.” But after a while you just taste that coffee flavor.
Did you intend it as a seasonal beer?
No. We debuted it at the end of the summer because we loved the idea of people sitting in the sun and sipping it, but you can definitely drink it all year. As for timing in the day, when it’s a little too early to drink alcohol but too late for coffee, have a Koffie Dick. Still, there is definitely some caffeine in it.
Where can people get it?
There are about 10 places around The Hague where you can buy it, for example, the Voorburgse Bierwinkel and by the bottle at Funkie House. We made 500 liters of this beer and we decided to make it one time only, so there is not much left anymore, but Sprudge readers can still order some by emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In Dutch, “koffiedik” is the word for “coffee grounds.” Was naming your beer Koffie Dick a play on words?
Absolutely. And we’re well aware of use of the word “dick” in English. But also, Dick is a really old-fashioned Dutch name. Ever hear of Klaas or Jan? Dick is one of those guys as well.
For background, in The Hague, you have these koffiehuizes: really small houses, mostly in the middle of a really busy road. Nowadays, people go there in the morning to have a cup of coffee, talk about Donald Trump, stuff like that, and then they go to work. They might return at lunch and bring their own sandwiches, then head back to work. Around 4:00 or 5:00 PM, they go back there again and drink some beers. Back in the day, the customers there were only contractors, painters, bouwvakkers [“construction workers”].
So Koffie Dick is a bouwvakker and he goes to the koffiehuis to drink coffee in the morning, and in the afternoon he goes there for a beer. We decided to connect those two concepts through a character, and that’s Dick. We just wanted to have fun with the idea of those old koffiehuizes because the coffee they drink is really bad and the beer they drink is really bad.
The serving tip reads: “Beschuitstuiter met zalf.” Explain.
That’s also a small joke. In Hague slang, zalf is mayonnaise and beschuitstuiter is a broodje bal [the Dutch equivalent of a meatball sub]. This is what Koffie Dick would be eating for lunch six days a week because that’s a really fatty sandwich, which is good fuel for working hard outdoors. Once in the koffiehuis, Dick can get warmed up and have his beschuitstuiter.
Are those spacers in his ears?
Yeah, we decided to make him hipster as well. Actually, in an earlier version, he had a hat, he had a beard. Now he has earrings. He was way angrier before, but we decided to make him more grumpy than angry.
As far as you know, have any construction workers had Koffie Dick?
Yeah, they really like it because they have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. When they see it, they know it’s about them. My father is a bouwvakker. He really loves it. He actually looks quite like Koffie Dick.
So you may look like this one day?
Yeah, maybe I will. But I don’t hope so.
Additional photos by Louise Boonstoppel Fotografie.
Karina Hof is a Sprudge staff writer based in Amsterdam. Read more Karina Hof on Sprudge.