Nikolai Fürst: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #76

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Nikolai Fürst: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #76

Coffee Insurrection
1- Introduce yourself: Who are you, where are you from, where do you work, and what's your job?

Hello, I am Nikolai Fürst. I grew up in Germany, but since 2015, I have been living in Colombia. My company is called Desarrolladores de Café (coffee developers), and it's based in Medellín. We are involved in various coffee-related activities, but our main focus is on coffee education in areas such as coffee roasting, cup tasting, production, and barista training. Additionally, we engage in coffee roasting, quality management, and export. As the founder, my role is to ensure smooth operations and set the company's priorities.

2- When and why did coffee become important to you?

Coffee has played a significant role in my life. As a cultural and social anthropologist, during an exchange program in Bogotá, I met my mentor and good friend Eduardo Esquivel. He is also an anthropologist and owned a coffee shop. He once told me, "Working with coffee is like a micro-revolution. You don't change the whole world at once, but you can change many small worlds immediately." This statement shaped my path in the specialty coffee industry from the very beginning. I decided to become a coffee developer who works with friends, rather than following the traditional approach of a colonial coffee hunter.

3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than "just a cup of coffee"?

There have been many instances. My first active encounter with specialty coffee was probably at a coffee shop in Vienna called Caffè Couture. They had two espresso grinders since 2010: one traditional and one unique. The latter caught my attention. Sometimes it offered fruity, bright, and sparkling flavors, while other times it presented floral, tea-like, and delicate characteristics. On occasion, it even showcased bold, fermented, intense, and alcoholic notes. I appreciated the idea of constantly experiencing different coffee flavors right from the start.

4- What's your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?

Everyone loves coffee, but when you combine its practical energy-boost with the realization that you are actively contributing to well-being and making a difference, it becomes truly rewarding. I enjoy witnessing the growth of Desarrolladores de Café and collaborating with our network of friends, all working together.

5- What's your favorite brewing method and why?

My favorite brewing method is El Pelador. It is the signature method of Desarrolladores de Café. I have a preference for coffees with character. If a coffee is floral, it should taste like flower water. If it is fruity, I want it to feel like a juice. El Pelador accentuates the unique characteristics of each coffee and is simply perfect for light roasts.

6- Which is the best coffee you have ever tasted?

Narrowing it down to a single coffee is impossible for me. We currently work with 15 farmers, and each one produces coffee with a distinct flavor profile. Generally, I deeply enjoy floral and delicate coffees, as well as juicy and fruity cups. One of my favorite varieties is Typica.

Nikolai Fürst

7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?

Obviously, ! However, I also enjoy coffee from Kenya, Ethiopia, and other South American and African countries. I appreciate the clean, fruity, and floral characteristics of these origins. Although Colombia offers tremendous diversity, you can easily find coffees that resemble those from any other producing country! From floral to fruity, spicy to bold, the range of possibilities is vast.

8- Recommend a roastery for us to check out (not the one you work at or use at work).

Kaffeewerkstatt Kucha, Günter Coffee Roasters, Cycle Roasters,kuska Caffè, P14, Kaffeemacher, Substance, Coffeepirates, and many more!

9- What's the most important thing you've learned while working in the business?

The specialty coffee industry is evolving rapidly, and every day presents new learning opportunities. The community is amazing, and you feel at home in any corner of the world where specialty coffee thrives. Our own business network is built on transparency, ethics, and trust. We are delighted to share a common goal with our clients: the well-being of our allied farmers.

10- How is your work and the specialty coffee world coping with Covid and the new challenges for the hospitality industry?

I believe we are gradually overcoming the challenges posed by Covid, but its impact on the industry and the world as a whole has been significant from a socio-economic perspective.

11- How do you envision the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?

Ideally, we will move beyond the colonial style of trading, where coffee is bought cheaply and sold as expensively as possible. I hope that all specialty coffee will be valued enough to provide a sustainable livelihood for everyone involved, from farmers to coffee brands, rather than mere survival for the producers.

12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, we hope to establish our online coffee school, significantly increase transparent coffee exports, and make a positive impact on farmers in different parts of the world.

13- Any final words? Any tips or suggestions you would like to share with someone interested in pursuing this path?

I invite everyone to reconsider how we perceive coffee. Amidst numerous crises, our industry, driven by social impact, has the power to improve well-being. Let's engage with coffee traders and producers and explore how we can mutually benefit from one another. Let's all be part of this micro-revolution.

Nikolai Fürst

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