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Germany Food & Drinks

The discovery of slowness

Long live the new coffee culture. Where coffee isn’t just drunk, but thoroughly enjoyed. Vienna goes without saying. Münster may surprise you.

Of Beethoven it is said that he brewed his morning coffee from exactly sixty coffee beans. So typical for an artist, the average coffee drinker might think, as he places another capsule or pad in the machine or, even better, simply presses the button on his fully automatic bean-to-cup coffee maker before pouring the brew into a plastic cup with snap-on drinking spout to consume on the go. But those in the know understand: Beethoven wasn’t just a musical genius. The man also had an exquisite taste. Good thing he ended up in Vienna, which could already boast some 150 coffeehouses at his time. But coffeehouse culture in the Austrian capital really took off within the next 100 years after Beethoven’s death: Today we can talk of more than 1,100 cafés of every shade – not to mention the nearly 1,000 espresso bars and the like.

roasting machine
(c) roestbar.com

The Viennese coffeehouse is all about the discovery of slowness. For the price of a cup of coffee, patrons can stay for as long as they want, reading the paper or entertaining their own thoughts and sharing them with others. A meeting place for writers, painters, young bohemians looking to revolutionise art and culture. In his memoirs, Stefan Zweig called the Viennese coffeehouse »an institution unlike any other in the world«. The good people at the United Nations agree. In 2011 Viennese coffeehouse culture was inducted into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Almost unnoticed by these official honours, a new generation is hard at work combining coffee and culture into a modern tradition. From Melbourne to Copenhagen, from Berlin to New York, today’s hip and trendy coffeehouse goes by »brew bar«. Their mission: to search for the perfect taste with scientific precision and to offer a place where connoisseurs can discuss the flavour of their coffee in a way that used to be the preserve of wine lovers. And to help boost the image of the much-maligned filter coffee.

roestbar Kreuzviertel
(c) roestbar.com

Sandra Götting and Mario Joka, the founders of the Roestbar coffee roasting house in Münster, run several cafés in the German university town. They are two shining examples of this new coffee cult generation. For them, good coffee is no mere coincidence. They travel the world chasing down the newest raw coffee, interested not only in a good bean, but also in fair
play. Because a good cup of coffee begins with an honest handshake with the local producers. And ends with perfect preparation. Of which Erna Tosberg is the undisputed champion. Twice already she has been chosen German barista champion by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE). She teaches perfect preparation in the Roestbar coffee school. There’s one thing you should know about Erna: she is uncompromising. The perfect amount needs to be calculated and weighed. One litre of coffee requires 60 grams of beans, the water must have a temperature of exactly 94°C and should be slowly infused over a period of precisely two-and-a-half minutes. First, however, the filter has to be rinsed with scalding hot water – so that no paper taste ends up in the coffee. The result is a symphonic coffee experience. If Beethoven were alive today, he would surely write an ode to joy.

Sandra & Mario
(c) roestbar.com

How brewing filter coffee works:

  • Weighing
    The SCAE Gold Cup standard is to use 55 to 60 grams of beans per litre of coffee.
  • Grinding
    The finer the grind, the shorter the contact time with the water. A medium gind is recommended for classic filter coffee.
  • Wetting the filter
    Before filling in the coffee grounds, the oxygen-bleached paper filter should be rinsed with hot, but not boiling water.
  • Infusing
    First pour in just enough 94°C water so that the ground coffee is moist. Infuse for 30 seconds. Then, over the next 2 minutes and 30 seconds, pour in the remaining water in intervals of 30 seconds.

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