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Escaping the Quicksand

In their quest to keep pushing the boundaries of the Copenhagen coffee scene, The Coffee Collective has now arrived at their first coffee shop slash beer bar. In a refurbished bodega in Bernikow. you’ll find both cold coffee and coffee cocktails. We’ve had a chat with co-founder, and barista champion, Klaus Thomsen.

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW SHOP. IN THE NEW SPACE YOU’LL SERVE SOME COMBINATIONS NEW TO MOST, LIKE DIFFERENT TABS WITH COLD COFFEE, COFFEE KOMBUCHA, COFFEE BEERS AND COFFEE COCKTAILS. WHAT IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THIS THIRST FOR PUSHING THE ENVELOPE.

Throughout the years we’ve been doing a bunch of collabs with different brewers like Mikkeller, To Øl, Evil Twin, Brus, Amager Bryghus and Hill Farmstead. But we’ve never had a chance to serve those to our guests/audience, so it sometimes feels a bit like people are missing out. When we learned that this location was the first place to serve draft beer in Denmark, we saw it as a sign, that we should finally do something about this. And then we just thought it would be fun to try out. When we opened the first coffee collective, we talked about that it would be fun to serve one or two beers on tab, but alcohol licensing is pretty damn tough to get here in Denmark. But it happened eventually.

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LOOKING BACK AT THE LAST DECADE OF COFFEE COLLECTIVE, HAS IT EVOLVED LIKE YOU ANTICIPATED?

In some ways it’s grown far beyond what we initially thought, but in other ways I believe that we’ve always had high ambitions and none of us ever wanted to get stuck. We’ve always wanted to push things further, but at a pace where we feel that we’re in control and managing the quality and buying practices the way we want. It’s amazing to have a staff of 60 now and see a career path for our employees. We’re blessed with a fantastic team that feels just as much part of the collective as the founders.

OF ALL THE POSSIBLE REASONS, WHY DO YOU GET UP IN THE MORNING?

I feel like coffee is still in its early days in many ways. There’s so much to explore and so much to learn. Coffee is really complex and the fact that you’re both working with producers, often in developing countries, with roasters that keep optimising roast profiles and finally with the whole brewing and service aspect, makes it so challenging and fun to be part of. I know I can work a lifetime in coffee and still have things to learn. That’s motivating when you have to get out of bed on a cold Danish winter morning.

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SOUNDS LIKE A LIFE-LONG PROJECT? MANY PEOPLE HAVE MORE DREAMS AND AMBITIONS THAN THEY HAVE TIME TO REALISE. HAVE YOU DESELECTED SOME OF YOUR DREAMS TO WALK THE PATH YOU’RE ON?

Not really. We all from the beginning agreed we should have a sensible work-life balance and have all managed to raise a family (I have two kids, and so does Casper and Linus, and Peter has three now!). I did drop out of university to focus on coffee and never finished my degree. But that’s a decision I don’t regret at all.

What were your plans before entering the specialty coffee scene?

I Studied communication and Business Studies at Roskilde University. I did 2.5 years and had about a year left for the bachelor. I didn’t have any other plans before that. It’s probably why I felt coffee was my calling.

We’re all glad you dropped ouT, Klaus. Keep escaping the quicksand.

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