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Creating Community

In a city dedicated to the slow life, local grown food and organic produce – and where sustainability is more than just a buzzword, the lack of speciality coffee shops was surprising. But talking with Bora and Tansel Ozbek, the founders of Refinery, I get the impression that this is changing.

What’s the story behind the name Refinery?

Some of the greatest things in life come from the discoveries, explorations, and challenges. I love traveling, absorbing the new destinations, meeting the locals and trying out the cuisine. That’s how specialty coffee got me the first time while visiting NYC more than 10 years ago. It was more than a coffee, and I still remember it. Refinery opened in 2015 with an idea of bringing out the novelties in specialty coffee scene in Berlin. We wanted to introduce our approach to coffee and share it with the locals in Berlin. It’s such a good feeling to see our neighbors sipping coffee every morning and have a chat. It is a very social and community-based place.

After a while, we got some new ideas on how to connect specialty coffee, people, their daily routine and home or workplace. As a result, we opened Refinery Store which aims at bringing coffee closer to the people and their daily rituals. We want our customers to know the processes involved in the coffee production and understand the value of sustainability and transparency. How does the coffee go from crop to the cup? – all the crucial information is presented and provided at Refinery.

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You’ve just opened your second shop in Berlin, what Learnings did you BRING along the second time AROUND?

Running an independent coffee shop means a lot of responsibilities. Every day is full of multitasking, communication with various people and learning while doing. As a result, it is essential to gather the team players who share the same values, goals, ambitions and can carry responsibilities and make decisions. Leadership, thinking out of the box, creativity, courage to innovate and stand for the ideas brings us every day further. The proper combination of these features is never ending process. What we have definitely learned is that great things come when great people work together.

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What makes Refinery special?

Specialty coffee scene in Berlin is very emerging and promising. People are curious, brave and socially active. They want to know the origins of the products, care about sustainability and their health. We love this environment, common intelligence, and social responsibility which inspired us to open Refinery. The place is a quiet oasis dedicated to specialty coffee and art of preparing and serving it. Our favorite international coffee roasters are presented with information about the philosophy and story of the farmers, roasters and products. Right now we are introducing Tim Wendelboe, Caravan Coffee Roasters and April Coffee to the German market. We also let our customers try out the selected coffee at a cupping session with the assistance of our baristas.

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Why did you open Refinery?

We are on the daily mission to serve amazing coffee, bring the people together for some beautiful moments and create a shared social responsibility by what and how we consume. We want to reflect our lifestyle and create a community that has the same values. In this way, we have a great opportunity to support developing countries by trading coffee fairly.

Many people want to do more than they have time to in their life … is there anything you wanted to do that you put on hold to start Refinery?

It is all about time management and proper life work balance. However, to say is the way easier than to do, right? We miss more traveling and all the things that brought Refinery’s story and concept together. More time with the family, homemade food and family conversations. Weekend strolls in the galleries, theatres and cultural aspirations. On the other hand, we create happy moments every day and learn how to enjoy the little free time we have.

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Where do you see specialty coffee evolve from where?

Coffee, in general, is turning into a lifestyle. People are increasingly working and having meetings in coffee shops. As a result, the demand for sustainable coffee gets bigger. If you drink coffee and spend the majority of the day in that environment, you’ll choose the coffee that tastes good. We see a synergy between the society and independent coffee businesses development. People search for more – independent roasters set up the roasteries and specialty coffee gets more and more organic.

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