Two weeks ago we were invited by Kees Kraakman, the man behind the coffee roastery located in the North of Amterdam as part of the cooperative Open Coöp named Stadsbranderij Noord. Kees has been a household name in the Dutch coffee industry for quite some years now. His life in coffee started in 1999 at The Golden Coffee Box as a friend of his was working there and he was looking for a job after finishing high school. Having worked there for little over 10 years Kees left and started as an independent in the coffee industry giving training and consulting, and eventually starting the coffee roastery Stadsbranderij Noord.
Despite Kees working independently now a days, it’s save to say that while at The Golden Coffee Box the deep fundament of Kees’ coffee-knowledge was built. Amongst other things he was giving the chance in 2006 to visit a plantation in Panama, after he already visited some plantations in Costa Rica by himself, expanding his knowledge beyond brewing and roasting towards the cultivation of coffee. One of the first things Kees did when he left The Golden Coffee Box between April and September 2011, was starting the pop-up coffee bar SOK located within the Nine Streets quarter in Amsterdam. Later, Kees opened Stadsbranderij Noord, as a temporary coffee bar, in Amsterdam North at the Open Coöp.
As he was roasting coffee for the coffee bar and he felt he wanted to continue doing so, Kees officially launched Stadsbranderij Noord as a coffee roastery after the namesake coffee bar was closed at the end of September 2012. When it was launched the coffee roastery and training facility only carried three different kinds of beans, from Ethiopia, Brazil and El Salvador. Recently it expanded its offering with beans from Rwanda, Mexico and Honduras. With a slowly growing number of clients mostly from the food service industry, last month Kees was giving the chance to once again open a coffee bar/lunchroom in the Open Coöp together with Bite Me and Partizan Publik which is named Pussy Galore.
When we visited the coffee roastery Kees gave us a short introduction in both the roasting process and a coffee cupping. Kees roasts with a Giesen W1, which has a very classic design and a maximum capacity of 1 kilogram raw beans. Seeing the process is a truly fascinating experience. He explained that every bean roasts differently depending on the height it was grown, which plays a significant part in the hardness of the bean. The Cropster technology which is used to monitor the whole roasting process breaks down every detail of the roast, allowing the roaster to be more precise in his craft as ever before. Right after the first crack of the bean the aroma is released and the beans are poured out of the roaster to cool down as quick as possible.
When performing the coffee cupping Kees’ coffee-knowledge and sophistication once again is very apparent. When he pours the water of exactly 93 degrees Celsius in the cups with coffee, it’s important to make sure the bottom with the grinded coffee is totally wet, after which he slows down the pouring of the water a little in order to let the coffee absorb the water in the best possible way. When a layer of foam lays on top of the coffee Kees breaks it and smells the aroma. Next he removes the foam with two spoons and the actual tasting can take place. When tasting, it is important to loudly slurp the coffee, spreading it all the way to the back of the tongue to maximally measure all the different aspects of the taste. The spectrum of tastes Kees offered us was as broad as a coffee that was very light, sweet and fruity, almost like a tea, to a very strong espresso blend. The versatility of coffee seems endless in the hands of people like Kees!
We love the craftsmanship of Kees and his Stadsbranderij Noord. For more information and to order some coffee online, go here!
When in Amsterdam-North make sure to visit Pussy Galore at the Tolhuisweg 2, opened Monday to Friday from 09:00 until 17:00.
Photography by Jeroen Berends.