Roaster Stories: Friedhats with Lex Wenneker | European Coffee Trip x IKAWA

– I think that people are
searching their whole lives to find what they love to do and maybe I came across
by accident, could be, but it’s been the main
direction ever since I think. My name is Lex, my job is
roasting coffee, making coffee and kind of making sure
that the roastery Friedhats and Café Fuku runs accordingly, that’s kind of what I do everyday. If I look back at the last 10 years, there were couple defining moments that kind of shape things
the way they are now. We had some bad luck, also
had some setbacks I think, but like in the end, I
really believe that things happen for a reason. I think the first step was
like starting my own company, just by myself and because
I didn’t really know where I wanted to open the café, I kind of had like a driving
café which was handy, so I could try out a lot
of different places, so it made me pick the location of
my first café in Amsterdam. And then that café was pretty
small, only a couple seats and also together with another company, in like one building, also realized that I didn’t want that because then you have to be in sync
with your ideas about what you want to do. So this is why the second
Headfirst was our own space, but we chose to work with
an investor which is also a bad idea. (laughing) That was the biggest lesson I think, that didn’t really work out
because we were three people, three guys and we just
also had different options about what to do. (upbeat music) So we opened Friedhats in 2015 and because Headfirst was closed, so we decided we just
had to kind of carry on because for us it felt like
we weren’t really done yet. This is also how we kind of
got to the name Friedhats ’cause Friedhats is an anagram
of Headfirst, same letters but different order so we
picked Friedhats, it didn’t really mean anything and
just kind of carried on where we left off. It was a bit more, a bit more organized, a bit more clear what we wanted to do. We also knew that we didn’t
wanna have like a lot of money and open up a big place all at once, we just kind of wanted to
grow slowly and kind of take it step by step, which
worked out for us pretty well because now we have all the
freedom, we still just only do what we want to do, we
have no ties to anyone, we have no obligations so in
a way we are completely free. So I started roasting, I
think it was like 2012-13ish, actually very simple because
we couldn’t find the coffee we wanted in the Netherlands,
there were a couple of nice roasteries but they were
all kind of developed roasts and we kind of liked because
we just started in this third wave kind of movement
and we wanted to have like a light roasted coffee
that was like acidic, like different then anything
else, that was like super cool, and because we couldn’t find it, we just said we’ll do it ourselves. We never did a lot of masterclasses or because there weren’t many of them around, I kind of just learned, kind of myself, by trying a lot of coffees and experimenting a lot. That was kind of why we
started and it was also fun, making your own products
kind of gives it an extra dimension because before that
we just had a bag of coffee and then you set the grinder,
it’s kind of all you can do and you can make a longer
shot or a tighter shot or finer or coarser. When you roast your own
coffee, there’s like so many more dimensions that are
added to the whole thing, which is fantastic because
you can pick your own coffees and then you can roast
it, just like you want it. It’s safe to say that all
our coffees are light roasted because we think that kind
of like highlights the most of the origin which is basically, for us the most the most
important thing to showcase. We don’t really try to roast
sweetness in our coffee, for some reason we just like
to showcase the country, or like the farm or the
processing method or whatever, whatever we think is interesting to taste, that’s what we try to
highlight and this is what we trying to show in the café as
well ’cause we have all these coffees on the menu, it’s
almost impossible to come in the café and not be kind
of seduced to every once in awhile to order a coffee
from a different country. When we started the roastery,
we started with only Kenya, Ethiopia, Brazil and
Colombia and then slowly some coffees were added to the
list, so now to come in we have two, four, six, eight, 12 coffees, it’s a bit much,
but it’s good, it’s nice and we have the super specials as well, which is kind of also a dream
for me when I started with coffee I wished there would
be a café where you can get like, just like a wine bar,
you can get some normal coffees and some rare coffees as well,
so we kind of started making a list of coffees that
were a bit harder to get, a bit more expensive also. We didn’t expect like
people to actually buy it, but they do, they spend 12
euros for a cup of coffee, which is very nice I think, it’s cool. (upbeat music) If we wouldn’t be competing,
we wouldn’t probably be looking the globe for like all
these crazy coffees you know because back then we didn’t
have a purpose for it, when we started the roastery,
there was no way we could like start calling everyone,
yeah we want to taste your most exotic coffee and they probably wouldn’t even send it to us
because who are you guys, you know, but then when we
were competing, it kind of gave us the purpose of doing
that and to kind of like think about how the coffee
tastes, how you can make it even better and when it’s
good, you wanna think again how to make it better,
like that kind of drive that comes from a competition, I think that’s super interesting. I always find it slightly hard to explain how we roast our coffees, a lot of it is based on
just experience I think and there’s no rules or
there’s no like written philosophy behind our roasting
style, it’s just who we are. So a lot based on just instinct, feeling, we have like a basic
profile over the years but like towards the end
we just, I just eat beans and at some point, I’m like
this is good and I open it up and luckily drops are recorded now so it’s kind of easier to
re-reproduce but every once in a while, there’s just a data
and reality doesn’t add up and then we kind of still
pick the, just the one that tastes nicest, which is also cool because it kind of makes
it personal or something. Two things that are nice about the Ikawa is the ease of use, consistency
I think and then like the experimental part, you can play around with it forever probably. Super cool to be able to
kind of like roast fifteen different profiles so easily and then also be able to
reproduce that just as easily. I still kind of like the fact
that people get on their bike, drive, they stop at the
café, they pay money to me because they like the
coffee, that’s kind of still after all those years, that’s kind of like a rewarding thing. They wanna be in the café,
they wanna drink our coffee because they like it, for
whatever reason it is, that’s still like motivation
every single time. Same goes for the roastery,
you’ll order our coffee online or email us, can we buy your coffee cause we like it? And post photo’s on
Instagram, I don’t really like Instagram but it’s very
nice to see that everyday we get tagged in a couple of posts
from people that just have a bottle in their hand
and they just like it, they like it so much they
make the effort to put that on Instagram, that’s pretty cool.

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