How did Refinery begin? What was the vision behind it?
It started in 2015 when we opened Refinery High End Coffee Bar in the heart of Berlin by the Spree canal in the Berlin-Mitte neighbourhood. Tourists from across the world come here to explore the area’s historical heritage, and it seemed like the perfect place to give people the chance to discover our approach to specialty coffee.
We had the vision to open a coffee shop that offered premium quality coffee in a sophisticated yet relaxed environment, where people could learn more about coffee from knowledgable and friendly staff.
It’s been two years since we began planning to bring something fresh and innovative to Berlin’s coffee scene, and we feel like we’d made it now that we’ve opened our new store in Kreuzberg, celebrating its opening with local Berliners and other Refinery friends.
Believing that coffee provides a means to connect people, we try to break the perception that there’s a snobbery that surrounds the specialty coffee scene.
So now you have spaces in two very different parts of the city. How do you engage with the communities in each location?
The two locations each serve very different communities, and this shows how open we are at Refinery in welcoming everybody, from coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs, to coffee newbies. Believing that coffee provides a means to connect people, we try to break the perception that there’s a snobbery that surrounds the specialty coffee scene.
With our new Refinery Specialty Coffee Store, we give people the chance to learn more about coffee and how to experience it at its best by providing professional consultancy about the coffee that we serve and stock, and information about how the coffee is farmed, sourced, produced, and prepared. We educate people about how they can make the perfect cup at home.
Can you fill us in on how the café and retail store fit into the overall concept, and what kind of experience you want to offer your customers?
Everything comes together with the two spaces in order to educate people about coffee and involve them in the scene.
We love serving the coffee, gathering people together, and creating a cosy atmosphere and memorable experience. But we also believe that amazing coffee can be prepared at home. All you need is premium quality fresh beans practice, and knowledge. We brought these aspirations together and decided to combine an espresso bar and store so that customers can enjoy coffee prepared by professional baristas, and learn how to make great coffee at home. In order to bring the coffee-curious community further into the world of coffee, we’ve created very informative merchandising, we offer consultancy, and we organise events.
We decided to combine an espresso bar and store so that customers can enjoy coffee prepared by professional baristas, and learn how to make a great coffee at home.
What do you look for in the coffees you serve and stock, and how do you choose your suppliers?
All of our coffees are carefully sourced from our favourite origins based on a philosophy where quality, traceability, innovation and social responsibility is the main focus. We work closely with the roasters who buy the coffee directly from farmers. In this way we support the farmers by increasing their growth. As a result, at both Refinery locations you’ll find only a small range of coffees, and the offerings are constantly changing.
We purchase small amounts of coffees from the different producers and do our best to make sure the products are as fresh as possible. Right now Refinery is thrilled to serve and stock three great roasters from Europe: Norway’s famous Tim Wendelboe; Caravan Coffee Roasters from London; and newcomers April Coffee Roasters from Copenhagen. Freshly roasted and extremely fruity — a must try.
As a relatively young business, you’ve grown rapidly. What’s next for Refinery?
We’re very lucky to work with a creative, challenging, and curious team who push out of their comfort zones, and fire our imaginations. They bring a lot of input in terms of developing ideas and daily decision-making.
Our next goal is to bring on board more passionate visionaries to be involved, as well as expanding the concept of coffee education. We’ll continue to bring coffee closer to people, closer to their homes, and help introduce coffee-making rituals to their daily routines.