MILAN – We met Patrik Rolf, who takes an active part in the quality coffee movement around the world with his coffee roastery and store April Coffee from Copenhagen, and his work as an ambassador around the role of the barista and the culture of the drink – infact, he is also the author of a book entitled ‘From nerd to prof‘. His CV also includes a world silver medal for brewers won in Boston in 2019.
Who is Patrik Rolf and what is coffee for him?
“I am the founder of April in Copenhagen, Denmark. And the author of From Nerd to Pro – a coffee journey. I started to work with coffee ten years ago in my hometown, Gothenburg, after I met Matts W. Johanson, the founder of “da Matteo” – a local Coffee Roastery and Coffee shop. If it weren’t for him, I would have never started to work with coffee.
At da Matteo, I first started as a dish-boy. After a few months, I became a barista. Once I became a barista, it didn’t take long before I realized I needed to learn how to roast coffee, so I talked my way into the roastery, where I spent many months packing coffee and cleaning before I was allowed to learn how to roast coffee.
After two years at da Matteo, I wanted some international coffee experience. The coffee scene in Sweden was still very young and wasn’t as dynamic and exciting as in the rest of the world. So I started looking for new places to work and eventually moved to Berlin to work for a local coffee roastery. In Berlin, I met baristas and coffee roasters from all over the world. I started to travel more and better understand the coffee industry. After three years in Berlin, it was time for me to start my own company.
I started my roastery in Copenhagen, Denmark, because the city always inspired me. And here I am, five years into my April journey, a silver medalist in the World Brewers Cup 2019, getting ready for my first World Barista Cup competition in Melbourne later this year. It’s an exciting time, and I keep challenging my coffee perspective.”
What is it like to be the world’s silver brewer? What is the secret?
“Competing in the World Brewers Cup in Boston back in 2019 was a great experience. Coffee competitions are always a great way to learn and develop. It’s where the best professionals in the industry come together and share ideas and experiences. Competing makes you better.”
Tell us the concept behind April Coffee?
“We are all about quality. And our aim is to redefine coffee quality. It’s about pushing the boundaries for how coffee can taste. While respecting and nourishing all parts of the value chain. Our main interest is coffee varietals and the unique taste experience and abilities they represent.”
What is the specialty scene like in Copenhagen?
“The coffee scene in Copenhagen is growing. We see several new coffee shops opening up in different parts of the city. In Copenhagen the main focus is on lighter roasted filter coffee and cortado style milk espresso beverages.”
How much does an espresso cost there? Is it a problem for consumers to pay more? Do they recognize quality?
“That depends on the coffee shop, but somewhere between €2.5-5. We haven’t experienced the price as being an issue. In Copenhagen, there is a lot of respect for the value chain and an understanding that quality comes with a specific price. Copenhagen’s unique food and beverage scene has been essential in allowing April to sell coffee at a sustainable price that represents our quality.”
What coffees do you currently serve? Do you roast them? If yes, do you have direct contact with the growers?
“We roast all the coffee that we feature in our store ourselves. And the focus is always to work with small quality focused producers that share our passion for quality. Today we purchase all of our coffee directly via our partner producers.”
What equipment do you use for espresso and grinders?
“We use a ModBar system and a Ditting Grinder.”
Are the baristas, the staff behind the bar, well trained and recognized as professionals? Are they also well-paid?
“They are all trained by us before they are allowed to represent us in our store. And we do our best to pay as much as possible. Currently, a barista is making €18.83/hour. It hasn’t always been like that, but as we grow as a company, I aim to ensure that the salary grows. Furthermore, I make a point to recommend all of our team members to participate in the SCA competitions – any coffee competitions, as I find them a great way to improve one skill-set.”
But Rolf, you are also an author: what does your From Nerd to Pro contain? What do you want to tell and to whom?
“The idea was to write the book that I wished I had when I first started in the coffee industry. It’s a guide on how you take your hobby and turn that into something that you can do professionally. It’s still difficult to navigate how to grow and develop, working in the coffee industry and I hope that sharing my own story could inspire others on their own journey.”
And now? Upcoming projects for your activities? Maybe even return to competition?
“The next main project will be to represent Sweden in the World Barista Cup in Melbourne after the summer.”
Would you tell us more about your preparation routine for the upcoming world competitions?
“As when I prepared for the World Brewers Cup competition in 2019, my strategy was to do a little bit of practice every day. I have broken up each part of the competition into different sessions. And make sure to put the effort in. The most challenging part is that it’s foremost a taste competition, and espresso and espresso-based beverages are challenging to get right. On top of that, the logistics that come with competing on the other side of the world are a challenge. However, I am always up for a challenge, and as competitors, we are all in the same boat.”