One Friday night in January, I walked across Berlin to a cupping at Röststätte cafe/roastery in the Mitte district. The streets were littered with Christmas trees put out to trash (last week I saw one tree actually fly from a fifth-floor window and crash to the pavement), but thanks to Third Wave Wichteln, the festive spirit is still in the air.
Over the past three years, the rise of Third Wave Wichteln (German for, essentially, Secret Santa—with coffee) has been happily followed by Sprudge—heck, we even gave them a Sprudgie Award! Started by Germans Markus Reuter, André Krüger, and Thorsten Keller, the global grassroots holiday exchange has grown from 362 participants in its first year to more than 2,000 participants last December.
Across some 60 countries, coffee lovers sign up via the Wichteln website, then mail a bag of locally roasted Third Wave beans to a stranger somewhere in the world—and, of course, receive their own surprise single-origin filter-coffee beans in the mail, sharing the goods on the Wichteln Instagram or Facebook pages. Taking the community ethos a step further, Röststätte invited Wichteln participants here in Berlin to maximize the fun by coming together and bringing along their Christmas booty for a public cupping. Why try one new coffee when you can try 20?!
Berlin Wichteln participants—a hodgepodge of baristas, roasters, consultants, and various coffee devotees—united for this one last festive hurrah, slurping around the table and sharing (what was left of) their coffees. (A few guests who had been thwarted by the German postal system and were still awaiting their own gifts’ arrival instead brought along beans from Berlin favorites like Bonanza and Kaffee Kirsche, as well as from unexpected sources like Casino Mocca in Budapest, purchased at Companion Coffee.)
As in all Secret Santas, there were winners and losers; one somewhat uninspired Wichteln gift (i.e., the coffee equivalent of yet another pair of socks from Nana) raised some eyebrows, but generally, everyone enjoyed a multi-kulti table of delicious filter brews. Among the 10 coffees on offer, international standouts included Ethiopia Knots Family from Java Coffee in Warsaw (earning extra points for its Lego-themed holiday packaging) and a very punchy Ethiopia Rocky Mountain from South Coast Roast in Bournemouth, England, which came with a sweet, handwritten Christmas message from its sender. From roasters closer to home, highlights included a Panama Geisha Trapiche Natural from Machhörndl in Nuremberg, and Röststätte’s own lovely Panama Morgan’s Geisha.
Below you can find a full list of the coffees served; meanwhile, somewhere out in the world, a bunch of happy Wichtelners are enjoying some fine Berlin beans. Until next Wichteln, happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Koppi, Helsingborg, Sweden – Colombia Finca Wisaquillo
Casino Mocca, Budapest – Ethiopia Hunkute
Bonanza Coffee, Berlin – Ethiopia Seka Forest
Java Coffee, Warsaw – Ethiopia Knots Family
Java Coffee, Warsaw – Costa Rica Perla Negra
Dear Green Coffee Roasters, Glasgow – Brazil Fazenda Pantano
Machhörndl, Nuremberg – Panama Geisha Trapiche Natural
Kaffee Kirsche, Berlin – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe
South Coast Roast/Cafe Boscanova, Bournemouth – Ethiopia Rocky Mountain
Röststätte, Berlin – Panama Morgan’s Geisha
#thirdwavewichteln cupping at @roeststaetteberlin The perfect start of the weekend ;)) #latteart #coffeart #coffee #kaffee #kaffe #kahve #kava #кофе #קפה #καφέ #cafe #coffeebrew #coffeeholic #coffeetime #ilovecoffee #coffeeaddict #cappuccino #barista #fun #cool #art #instafood #berlin #freepour A photo posted by Alexey Karmanov (@foto_coffee) on
Annabel Brady-Brown is a freelance journalist based in Berlin, writing for ExBerliner and more. Read more Annabel Brady-Brown on Sprudge.