Photo by Anna Achon
The phrase, “American-style coffee”, doesn’t usually get Europeans excited, but Massachusetts-native Kris Schackman has boldly set out to change this. On a romantic vacation to New York 18 months ago, Kris brought Sophie Weingensamer to his favorite Brooklyn coffee roaster. Originally from coffee-centric Vienna, Sophie was blown away.
Less than a year later on a chilly December day in 2010, Five Elephant was born just south of Görlitzer Park. In keeping with the new American style pioneered by his mentor Steve Rao (author of the barista’s bible Everything but Espresso), Kris keeps his roasts light to emphasize the quality of the beans.
He sources coffee directly from the African farmers who grow it, a policy he says gives him more control over bean quality and at the same time puts more money in the hands of the farmers themselves.
The shop’s most popular brews remain the Euro-typical espresso drinks (from €1.20), but if you’re ready to give your taste buds a superior kick, you should definitely try their filter coffee (€2.80-3.80) – the best brewing method to bring out the specific flavors of each bean from Kris’ house selection of roasts.
From her bustling kitchen in the back of the café, Sophie churns out tray after tray of delicious baked goodies – from the succulent cheesecake (Kris’ grandma’s recipe) to delicious apple or chocolate delights – which Five Elephant currently sells to a dozen cafés around Berlin.
Convincing Europeans that Americans can do something right can be difficult, but Kris and Sophie make a persuasive argument.