“We fell in love with the business because it encompasses and impacts so many things—food, people, social issues, quality. It’s an endless story in which you work continuously to improve, so you never really stop learning,” says Filip Makara from Five Elephant.
Five Elephant first opened its doors in 2010: they quickly became known in Berlin’s third wave coffee scene as a roastery intent on promoting the ethics of source and production. Transparency, Filip explains, is a fundamental tenet of their work. “From the beginning we wanted to roast coffee that came from traceable sources and long term partner-producers.” Each year, Five Elephant travel to meet with the farmers of their products, creating long-term, sustainable relationships.
They visited us at the FvF Apartment to give us a tasting of the latest beans from their roastery. This process felt much like wine tasting, with a sampling of flavors matched. In coffee-terms, this is known as ‘cupping.’ Cupping is a method of evaluating the different characteristics of coffee beans: it allows you to experience the flavors and complexities of each style of roast through comparison. Coffee grounds are steeped in hot water directly, with no filter. This gives an unadulterated flavor test for the new coffees. Experienced cuppers even have special cupping spoons, used to break the crust of grounds that float to the top of the mixture.
“We cup coffees to understand and evaluate coffee aroma and flavor profile. It also makes us look at coffee in its basic form and appreciate its finer points. What’s more, it’s a fantastic way to taste differences between coffee farms, regions, countries of origin and crops. That’s why it’s so exciting to do tastings of coffee from around the world, side-by-side.”
Like all fresh produce, coffee is seasonal. With most regions having only one harvest annually, the beans are similarly best to brew once a year. During our cupping with Filip, we tasted seasonal coffee from Central America and Africa: from different regions in Guatemala, Kenya and Ethiopia. After which we moved from the kitchen into the apartment, where we were served brewed Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee that were paired with some of Five Elephant’s delectable sweets: a passionfruit tart and a chocolate sponge. “We connected two of our specialties, coffee and cake. It’s not something that coffee professionals do regularly—but they should,” says Filip. We certainly agree.
The popularity of Five Elephant as an ethical roastery, bakery and cafe caused them to quickly outgrow their original location, you can now find them on Glogauerstrasse in Kreuzberg, and at their newly opened site on Alte Schönhauser Strasse in Mitte—conveniently close to the FvF office.
For those of you too far away to stop in at Five Elephant for a coffee, Filip has given us some instructions for a perfect pour-over.
Instructions for a Five Elephant pour-over
What you’ll need
- 1 Coffee dripper
- 2 (SV) Paper filters
- 3 Coffee grinder
- 4 Digital scale
- 5 Stopwatch
- 6 Cup
- 7 High quality coffee beans of your choice
- 8 Thermometer, if you’ve got one on hand
- Heat up 600ml water to approximately 93–96°C. If you don’t have a thermometer on hand, simply bring the water to a rolling boil and then allow it to sit for approximately 2–3 minutes.
- Coarsely grind 21g of coffee using a grinder
- Place a paper coffee filter in the dripper. Pour one third of the hot water over the filter, making sure to wet all of it. Allow the water to drip through and then discard.
- Set either a carafe or cup on top of a digital scale, place the dripper on top, add ground coffee to dripper, and set aret to 0.
- Start the timer from 0 seconds. Slowly pour the water, starting at the outer edge and moving inward in a spiral. Stop pouring after 15 seconds, once the scale reaches a weight of 50g. All of the coffee grounds should be wet; a spoon can also be used to stir the grounds and saturate them. This is what is known as the coffee bloom. At 0:30, move onto the second pour.
- Begin pouring the water again, this time starting in the center and moving outwards. Stop around 0:50 and when the scale reaches a weight of 150g.
- Now, at 1:00 pour another 100g of water over the dripper and stop at approximately the 1:20 mark.
- Finally, at 1:30 min add another 100g of water. At approximately 3:00—when the water has fully filtered through—remove the dripper from the carafe or cup.
Thank you, Filip for treating our tastebuds, we’re very much looking forward to being in close proximity to both Five Elephant cafes in Mitte and Kreuzberg!
The settings and decoration for our tasting were created by the talented from Aleksandra Kozłowska from No Wodka.
Photography: Robert Rieger