Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Rahel Goldmann

Rahel, aka Rachelle Katz, is a born Berliner and has worked as a barista as well as marketing and public relations manager for Father Carpenter. She recently started supporting the guys from Happy Baristas with implementing table service and bringing a new approach to customer communication to their coffee shop in Friedrichshain. Read about Rahel's approach on hospitality, her ambitions to compete and how she prepares for the upcoming German Aeropress and Barista Championships.

rahel goldmann barista berlin

Rahel, how did you get into coffee?

Sometime in 2013 I heard about a new café around the corner from where I was working, so I went to see what it, my friend called it ‘Australian coffee’, was. I placed my usual order: a Latte Macchiato. The barista told me he could make a café latte instead. I went for it and with the first sip, I was totally blown away by the flavours, it was like an awakening! The espresso was pleasingly acidic and I really enjoyed the smooth texture of the milk that tasted super sweet. Driven by the desire to figure out why this coffee was so different to anything I’ve known before, I started doing research. That's when I slowly began to understand that there’s way more to coffee then just the stuff that wakes me up in the morning. At the time I was managing Cupcake Berlin, which was a good job, but I was eager to learn more about specialty coffee. I went to undertake a beginner's barista course at the Berlin School of Coffee and got my first job at Double Eye. The foundation was set, but I wanted more, I wanted to progress. Shortly after, Father Carpenter started their ‘Rookie Program’, aiming to hire for attitude and train for skills. At that point I was studying Communication and Management at Uni and training to become a skilled specialty coffee barista. After only six months at Father Carpenter, I knew that coffee is what I want to do in my life. I left uni to take on a full-time position at Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers, which in hindsight was a fantastic decision.

After working at Father Carpenter for 1,5 years now, you're moving on to Happy Baristas. What's your role going to be?

At Father Carpenter I've become a spot on hospitality person. Marian and Roland from Happy Baristas saw potential in hiring someone like me as a front of house person. They are in the process of implementing table service and I'll be supporting them in their mission to make coffee more approachable – with strong communication skills. What we are trying to achieve over the course of the next 4 months is to create a more holistic customer experiences. As I am currently training for the Germany Barista Championship, Marian, who is a competitive barista, is a great person to learn from and be trained by. Working at Happy Baristas gives me the opportunity to train under less volume and in more detail. The café has just the right environment for that.

rahel goldmann barista berlin

What do you love about the two coffee shops, Father Carpenter and Happy Baristas?

At Father Carpenter you get the whole package: really good food, delicious coffee and excellent service. The philosophy behind it all, is to increase the quality of life – even if it’s just for these 30 minutes you’ve spend at the café. That's basically it in a nutshell.

Happy Baristas has the aim to make specialty coffee approachable, understandable and accessible for everyone. They're very strong with signature drinks to get people interested and involved, they’re offering a rich and diverse drink menu, not only to please the customer, but also to give the opportunity to access specialty coffee from multiple angles. Happy Baristas are generally very invested in and welcoming to specialty coffee newbies. They also put as much emphasis on nitro teas, to showcase the magnificent flavor profiles of tea and tea drinking in general - a beverage with a thousand year old history.

You've told me you're participating in German Aeropress Championship for the first time. How does the preparation look like?

For the Aeropress Championship you receive the competition coffee two weeks in advance, but you don’t know the varietal, the processing or the region it’s from. All I know at this point is that Five Elephant roasted it. When the actual competition takes place, you will get the same coffee but roasted at a different time in a different batch, so chances are it’ll react slightly different. Obviously other variables such as the water quality will be different too, luckily you can bring your practice water. You get 250g of roasted coffee to practice with and basically need to make it last until a few days before the competition, when it will have the same age as the coffee you'll compete with. It’s my first competition in coffee and of course I want to score at least in the top 3. The Aeropress Championship is a fun competition, which I take seriously regardless, but I’m also looking forward to the BBQ and drinks afterwards. ;-)

And then in winter in the German Barista Champions, how are you preparing for that one?

The Berlin Coffee Festival is coming up this weekend, so we will have a lot of green buyers, roasters and coffee professionals in town. This is very helpful for my coach Marian (Happy Baristas), my roaster Maren (Ernst Kaffeeröster) and myself. We’ll cup different coffees, experiment and hopefully gather some impressions that will feed into my routine. This is going to be the first step. I want to compete because I want to learn a lot and get better, but I also want to tell a story. So my competition’s theme is just as close to my heart as the divine coffee I’ll be using. Competing on a national level provides a good stage to talk about certain issues and challenges we are facing in the industry, so it'll be a good audience for the phenomenon I am trying to display and describe in my competition’s narrative. It'll have a certain political approach to coffee and women in coffee. I obviously can't give away too much at this point.

rahel goldmann barista berlin

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am moving to Australia in 2018, thanks to a scholarship, for Sommelier classes. Working in coffee made me understand the multiple layers of hospitality as well as experiencing flavours in a whole new way. First came coffee, then came wine, I’ve recently even started to enjoying Whiskey, for example! Once you learn to ‘listen to what you taste’, the entire food and beverage industry becomes such a wild beautiful playground. I am looking forward to learn more about every single aspect.

After the sommelier classes, whilst obviously working in coffee still, the next step could be to become a chef or a pastry chef, anything that extends my horizon basically. I’ve got another good 50 years on this planet (knocks on wood) and I don’t want to stop learning and improving ever. I can predict that I’m not going to get tired of engaging people in the greater beauty of taste and talking about a wholesome approach to the products we’re sourcing and consuming.

Thanks so much Rahel and best of luck for your competition goals!

Read more interviews from the series 'Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin'

and check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Nora Šmahelová

Nora is originally from the Czech Republic and has been residing in Berlin since 1999. In 2002 she won the second national barista championships in Germany and has since then opened Chapter One and Coffee Profilers in Berlin as co-owner and judged numerous competitions. Read about her experience as a judge and other insightful aspects from her career in coffee.

nora smahelova

Nora, what triggered your career in coffee?

When I started to work in coffee, I was a student looking for any kind of part time job where I could earn money. So I ended up working at Einstein in 1999. At that time they were super advanced, just using Arabica beans, doing latte art and having their own roaster. Today this is kind of normal but for those times it was something special. I didn’t give a shit about what I would do to finance my studies.  I actually quit my job as a barista after the German championships. I was 21 and as I come from a very intellectual family, everyone had plans for my future, and I didn’t want to stay in the gastronomy sector.  And even coffee is gastronomy. I was craving input for my brain.

But now you’re here, so what happened?

I don’t know. The advantage of winning the competition was that there was a lot of publicity surrounding it. It’s not like I enjoyed walking around saying I was a barista champion but winning made it easier for me to get jobs. Like in 2003, I was invited to judge my first competition.

What are your current roles in the coffee industry?

I am co-owner of two Berlin based specialty coffee shops, Chapter One and Coffee Profilers, where I also work as a barista. For La Marzocco Deutschland I am their brand ambassador and social media representative since February and I recently also started working with the green coffee company Ally Coffee. I am one of their company members for Europe. I am working at fairs for Hario and am also a WCE representative and AST trainer.

And how did the idea come up for Chapter One and Coffee Profilers?

My business partner and me used to work in a coffee shop together. I was studying at the University of Arts at that time, while he was into Herbalism. When I started a job in product design, I realized I didn’t like it. As I still had the dream to do my own design work, we were thinking about opening our own place while doing other things on the side. We opened Chapter One in 2011.

Coffee Profilers came later, in 2015. It is a project with different business partners and one of the results of me diving deeper into coffee without really planning on it.

nora smahelova chapter one

What is the philosophy behind Chapter One and Coffee Profilers?

When we started with Chapter One, I wouldn’t say we had a vision, but we wanted to focus just on coffee and especially filter. Therefore, we have many filter coffees on the menu and all kinds of different brewing methods. The most important aspect of it is our unique team. We try to do coffee seriously, but are unpretentious at the same time. For us personality is more important than experience, because you can teach everyone how to make coffee but you cannot teach the right mindset.

The most important for me is the customer service. We try to understand the needs of the customer, keep a low profile and cater to everyone. This means though, although we change the espresso every day, that some of our customers don’t ever notice a difference.

It is kind of the same for coffee profilers.  I did the design for both places and the idea was to create the design according to the available space, which is why they are very different from each other.

You’ve just participated in the event Barista Connect, a coffee event for women, and were also a speaker. How was it?

I felt stressed because I had to give a speech and I don’t know if I will ever feel well prepared for something like that. I was also doing cuppings for Ally Coffee and gave workshops for La Marzocco.  I like the idea behind Barista Connect and it was interesting to be a part of it and to contribute. I liked that there was a very mixed audience, including women from origin countries.

What do you think is the biggest difference between an event such as Barista Connect and coffee events where both men and women take part?

Honestly, I don’t know. It depends on your personality I guess. I would say it is exactly the same. For me, it is actually a big advantage to be a women in the coffee industry. I never had problems. Sure, some countries are more difficult than others. In some Mediterranean countries, for example, people may have a different mentality. If you know how to handle it, it’s not a problem.

You’ve won the German Barista Championships in 2002. Have you participated in other competitions?

No. I really didn’t care about coffee that much when I participated. I took part in the regional competition in Berlin out of fun, where I came in 2nd. The same goes for the national competition. I had fun and won an espresso machine on top of that, which was wow! The other perk was a trip to Oslo to participate in the world barista championships.

What competitions do you judge and how do you experience competitions from a judge’s perspective?

In 2003 I started judging national competitions in German speaking countries. At some point I wanted to improve and the obvious next step was the international judges certification. I became a WBC certified judge in 2011. I was almost more nervous than the competitors because there’s such pressure to decide if something is good or bad. It took a long time to get used to having to judge and decide. Often when I am sitting in the judges’ panel I am thinking: “Why am I not competing?”.

I was a technical judge first, moved on to sensory and then became a WCE representative. In order for a country to organize a legal competition, they have to invite a representative who makes sure it is all going according to the rules. It’s interesting when I get to go to countries I haven’t been to before. It`s broadening my own horizon by getting to know new people and different cultures. In September I am flying to Dubai to judge for example, a new experience for me.

chapter one specialty coffee berlin

Do you have any advice for baristas who want to compete?

It is mostly about reading the rules. I see many baristas who have the potential, but it is important to invest time and internalize the rules. If you want to win you have to stick to the rules and understand them and have a lot of discipline.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want to do more of my own projects, like making ceramics or organizing an exhibition for my drawings. I’d also like to keep learning and improving. This is why I started working with Ally to learn more about green coffee. It is a totally new perspective and I am excited to dig into it.

Thank you Nora!

Read more interviews from the series 'Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin'

and check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Nicole Battefeld

Nicole is head barista at Röststätte and runner up at the German Barista Championship 2016. She has a fierce passion for competing and is constantly working on improving her skills. In our interview she talks about her preparation for competitions, her experience on stage and (spoiler alert) the female latte art throw down Röststätte is organizing in September this year.

nicole battefeld röststätte

Nicole, how did you get into coffee?

I started working in a small coffee shop in my hometown after I finished high school. It wasn’t specialty but it had a La Marzocco GB5. I trained myself in making coffee and taught myself latte art, which wasn’t common in my region and a 100km radius at all. Because I dedicated myself to something no one else did, people got interested and my network expanded. This allowed me to dive deeper into coffee.

Currently, you are working at Röststätte. What are your main responsibilities?

I am head of the bar, I am roasting and as I learned a lot about the espresso machines we sell I represent the Black Eagle and Victoria Arduino at conventions. I also give barista courses, basically teaching people how to use coffee machines, do latte art and trigger their interest in specialty coffee. Once I got more confident in the whole barista scene, I also started competing.

What makes Röststätte unique? What’s the philosophy?

I love the diversity! You can be like an octopus because of their concept to have a café, shop, roastery and barista school all under one roof. Röststätte operates on an extremely professional level and it allows its staff to make amazing connections. I want to do more stuff than working behind the bar, so it is the best place to do that. Also I get a lot of support from the owners.

nicole battefeld röststätte

Is there somebody in the coffee industry you look up to? If so, why?

The first name that pops into my head is Erna Tosberg because she won the German championship twice and is now judging as well. She is the first female that I met and saw competing and she was the person that inspired me to compete as well. I’d also mention Nora Šmahelová because she is always a person I can go to as she is very supportive and helpful.

 You were runner up at the national barista championships 2016 in Germany. How did you prepare for the competition and what is it like to be on that stage?

The preparation was all over the place because I had never done anything like it before. The owners of Röststätte and I formed a team and wanted to perform as professionally as possible. So I started watching all the videos of the last 10 years of competitors, even on an international scale. I observed routines, didactic and wanted to internalize the rules. It was extremely frustrating because a lot of the times I had no idea what I was doing. What helped me the most was other people coming in, seeing my routine and criticizing it. Great feedback was what made me improve every day. I never thought about getting sponsors before so that was a new opportunity I explored.

Being on stage was amazing because I had done my routine so many times that it was kind of flowing. I felt super nervous but also very comfortable showing my product because I was confident about it. The feedback from people that saw me on stage and how supportive they were was overwhelming. I recommend everyone working in coffee to have this experience as you got absolutely nothing to lose. If you’re doing it for the first time people are not going to be hard on you. But this means for the coming years I'll have to do much better!

nicole battefeld röststätte berlin
nicole battefeld röststätte berlin

That brings me to a question that is often discussed in the specialty coffee industry: the equal representation of gender in competitions. Any thoughts on why we see more men competing than women?

I think a lot of women lack the confidence to stand up for what they believe in. And I think this is not just the case in coffee. As a women you go on stage and people are more likely to judge you than men. What I see at latte art throw downs is that women usually appear very quiet and end up surprising people.

I think I am just the kind of person to put myself out there. In the past I had jobs where I had to work my way through and if I would have been shy to speak my mind I might not be where I am now. I had to push for everything I achieved, nobody came and handed things to me. It doesn’t come easy, you need to work hard for it! I am very determined in that way, if I have a goal I want to achieve I am not bothered by what somebody else might think.

In terms of creating an equal work environment in the specialty coffee industry, how could it be achieved/what could be improved?

If you speak to big companies I’ve noticed they particularly ask for a male barista to represent them. Especially at conventions I see women rather working as hostesses serving while men are running the counter. What could improve the situation is to keep on pushing for more and keep on aiming higher. Coffee is such a huge market and people sometimes don’t have a clear idea of how they could fit in. I see especially that women are not always aware of all the opportunities this industry presents. Wholesale for coffee filters, just to name one example, is probably a niche not everyone would think of right away. I encourage you to just go out there and make a name for yourself.

Something else I’ve experienced is that men would often come up to me wanting to show me how it’s done. I learned to say: “Thank you for telling me, but I didn’t ask for your opinion!”. That usually does the trick. My advice for the guys: It is just coffee! We are not changing the world, don’t take yourself too seriously ;)

What are your aspirations for the future?

The first one is the Barista and Farmer project which I am participating in. It gives 10 people the opportunity to travel to a coffee farm in Colombia and work there. So few baristas get the chance to go to the origin. Seeing how coffee is grown, harvested and processed with my own eyes will help me deal even better with my roast profiles as my knowledge up to now is only theoretical. I’d love your support, just click on the link and vote for me!

At Röststätte we are organizing the second all female latte art throw down in Berlin. It will take place on 2 September from 15:00 during the Berlin Coffee Festival and you are all invited! The first one was such a great experience as it brought women from the local industry together. This is why we wanted to keep on extending this network and encourage women to compete.

Another project of mine is the Tiroler Kaffeemeisterschaft in Innsbruck taking place the third weekend of September, for which I am actually practicing right now. I do it just for the sake of being on stage. This is a good example of how seriously I take competing! Even though it doesn’t nominate you for any future competition, I still try to do it in the same way that I would prepare for a world championship. I got sponsors, great coffee picked out and music. My training time is even one month longer than last year. I just really really really wanna win that thing!

And of course I will take part in next year’s barista championships in Germany, and hopefully Amsterdam after that. I like the barista competition because it is so much of a show and you are free to show your personality. You shouldn’t underestimate how big the stage is! Even if there are only 30 people in the room, they might turn out to be the most important people in your career.

nicole battefeld latte art

Just out of curiosity, do you have a favourite brewing method?

I can’t say because the more you try the more you realize how massive this field is. There are so many different ways of brewing coffee. There is no such thing as the best coffee, but in general, I love how we are so flexible in how we prepare our coffee. Water temp, ratios, grinder settings - it is so beautiful. You never get to the point where you get tired because you never cease to learn.

Thank you Nicole for only positive vibes and a great interview! Wish you the best of luck for future competitions!

Check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.

Amazing female baristas, roasters and entrepreneurs of Berlin - Bára Ernygrova

Bara is from the Czech Republic and has already worked in coffee all over the world - including Dublin, Paris, Berlin, Sao Paolo and Wellington. Currently, she is the head roaster at Tres Cabezas. Her passion for coffee is infectious and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

Bára Ernygrova roaster

"The smell of freshly ground coffee in the morning – I wouldn’t trade it for anything!"

Bara, what triggered your career in coffee?

It’s actually very funny and very boring at the same time. I’ve been working in coffee for 10 years and started as a teenager. I loved the atmosphere in the coffee shops and to see the morning rituals of people, such as drinking espresso while reading the newspaper That was something that mesmerized me from when I was a kid. But when I had my first sip of coffee, I couldn’t understand why it was such a big part of people’s life - it tasted disgusting to me.

I gained my first work experience in Prague at a gorgeous coffee shop. The delicious menu, the beautiful cups and interior fascinated me. It was Italian inspired, offering freshly squeezed orange juice and strong espresso. I thought all the people working there were the coolest people on earth! There was no specialty coffee at the time but the café was so advanced with two grinders – meaning one for espresso and one for milk based drinks. I started to waitress but was really interested in the coffee side – so the owner decided to give me a shot behind the bar. One of the managers became my trainer, she was pretty hard on me and I was secretly afraid of her. We are still friends today.

What's your role at your place of work?

I started about a month ago so it is all pretty new. Mainly, I roast, I do the quality control but am very open to get involved with everything. I am still getting to know the people, trying to encourage colleagues to give feedback on my roasting.

How would you describe your journey towards roasting?

It is not an easy job to get, as there are not as many job openings in roasting as in serving. In my experience some people believe men are more suitable for this position because it is heavy, hands-on work that requires technical skills. But if you love what you do there is always a way to make it happen! Starting from the cup I went backwards in a way, constantly trying to dive deeper – from preparing beverages to calibrating espresso machines, roasting and farming at origins. When it comes to roasting coffee, I was challenged to put myself out there. I heard about a position available at Tim Wendelboe, applied and got invited to a Skype interview. Although I didn’t get the job this helped me to trust in myself and my skills and I was willing to do what it takes to get into roasting! It was patience, persistence and hard work what got me there. After some time, Five Elephant announced an open roasting position and I jumped on the opportunity. After a one-week trial, I finally stood next to a 25kg Diedrich.

Bára Ernygrova roaster

What makes the coffee shop where you work now unique? What’s the philosophy?

I feel at Tres Cabezas people are very human in the way they take care of their staff and guests. It is a workplace where it is okay to say ‘I don’t know’. People listen, they are not afraid to ask for help and acknowledge there are things that need improvement. It’s a very nice and refreshing relationship where both parties grow and bloom. Appreciation is important and commitment is recognized!

Is there somebody in the coffee industry you look up to? If so, why?

I can get inspired by anyone, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a person working in coffee. I admire people who stand up for themselves and people who create something with their hands.

What about coffee competitions? Have you participated or plan to do so in the future?

Not yet. For two years I’ve been thinking about it but I actually really want to. Hopefully next year.

A topic that is often being discussed in the specialty coffee industry is the equal representation of gender in competitions. Any thoughts on why we see more men competing than women?

 I think women can be more reserved when taking the stage. I'll leave it at that. :-)

In terms of creating an equal work environment in the specialty coffee industry, how could it be achieved?

In my perception there are more men visibly working in the coffee industry than women as they speak up louder. There needs to be a safe space for all members of the industry to voice concerns, have discussions and exchange knowledge. Sometimes I feel like there has been a lack of constructive criticism. Everyone’s opinion should be listened to. Making people feel incompetent does not help the industry to advance and it discourages people to perform their best. We should make people feel equally okay about saying: I don’t know’. Also, if during your daily work people constantly override you, it demotivates you from speaking up in the future.

What are your aspirations for the future?

The specialty coffee industry is young but also very competitive. I believe knowledge exchange is vital for making the industry advance and flourish. For myself, I see a future in coffee farming, because that’s where it all starts. I already spent half a year in Brazil during the harvest season and learned how complex coffee farming really is. In the future I would love to participate more in sustainable coffee farming projects at different places of origin. Standing in the coffee fields with mosquitos surrounding me in the heat made me realize, I love this! I want the dust!

What’s your favorite kind of coffee and brewing method?

I love espresso and the memory I associate with it from my early beginnings working as a barista. I’d almost go as far as saying I am addicted to it (my boyfriend would confirm this!). While working at the coffee farm in Brazil I was right at the source but with no espresso machine in sight. Torture, if you ask me! In my despair I turned to the Aeropress hoping to find satisfaction in an Aero-presso, but it didn’t quite do the job.

Thanks, Bara!

Check out my guide to Berlin specialty coffee shops here.