January 21, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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He worked as a masseur, but he got burned.  He now has a successful business and helps farmers by adopting coffee trees

He worked as a masseur, but he got burned. He now has a successful business and helps farmers by adopting coffee trees

He worked as a masseur, but he got burned. And so he began to search for a new way of self-realization and livelihood: a coffee shop fell into his hands in order to quit. However, when he calculated the necessary investments and his gastronomy experience, he realized that he was not yet ready for this step.

However, the coffee did not cease to amaze him, so he opened an online store with most Italian brands. As he delved deeper into the world of coffee, he became even more convinced that the right move was to roast his coffee.

Peter Szabó started it, has continued under the Coffeein e-shop brand and has been on the market for 10 years now. We first visited Peter in 2015. We asked him how his view of coffee had changed in an article published in collaboration with K.Avicari.

How has your business changed?

Since 2015, I have been constantly progressing professionally and learned a lot about coffee, growing, processing, roasting, and learning more about it. Of course, there are still many undiscovered areas, but I enjoy the process of continuous learning the most in this work. Coffee is very complex and I am very fascinated by watching and uncovering the factors that influence its final taste in a cup. As a toaster, I can influence one important variable in this series.

What new knowledge about coffee has charmed or surprised you in the past?

Recently, I enjoyed coffee, which is processed by anaerobic fermentation. Thanks to these experimental processing methods, new coffee flavors are opened. Unlike various “barrel-aged” coffees, which are artificially affected, fermentation in coffee is a natural phenomenon. If the grower can control this and then document their procedures and replicate them with other coffees, that’s great for our customers. It opens up new tastes in coffee.

It’s been six years since our visit.

In those days, I was working very normally. I am not a typical entrepreneur who settles numbers and evaluates charts. We walked just to feel, and as we grew up, we felt good. Our ad was basically our blog about coffee, which has earned us and continues to win the majority of customers. The coffee market has transformed and competition has grown. We also have bigger plans for the future, so I had to change myself and start dealing with numbers more than feelings. Today, it is no longer enough to have good, fresh coffee with fast delivery.

Source: Tomas Turek

Did you change as a person?

naturally. If a person has not changed in the past six years of his life, he is likely to be in a deep recession. My biggest personal change is that I lost 30 kg. I jog, run, bike and do sports a lot, as well as coffee.

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What do you live in these days?

In my personal life, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. In professional life of course with coffee. (a smile). I’ve never had such good coffee this year. We have very good connections with the best growers, so I get the best coffee beans from all over the world at the cupping table. I really enjoy picking a new coffee from our roaster menu. I am so glad our customers appreciate it.

You also form very close partnerships with farmers. How were they born? Will they address you, will you find them, or will you meet by chance in a coffee exchange?

Yes, we try to find as many partnerships as possible, which are based on the form of “direct trade”, that is, we buy coffee directly from the farms. In some cases, the farmer will call us, or a foreign roaster will approach us, and we will fold together in a pot and bring coffee from the farms. Such was the case with coffee from Honduras from farmer Jose Cuellar. Then we also work with Marián Takáč, a Slovakian who went to Vietnam for a month’s vacation. He hasn’t returned for five years and has been growing coffee trees. It’s a very beautiful story.

Source: Tomas Turek

With farms in Honduras, I also set up an opportunity for clients to adopt their own coffee tree. How it works?

Adoption also works with Marianne from Vietnam. We came up with this project for two reasons. The first is to show people the coffee’s path from farm to cup. A customer who adopts a coffee tree will receive a certificate and we will inform them regularly about their coffee tree on the farm. What is happening to him now, at what stage of his development etc. In the end man gets his crop in the form of coffee that we roast. Basically, a customer buys 2 kg of the harvest of a particular coffee tree, then follows the path and enjoys its fruits after a few months.

From Honduras and Vietnam, there will be a 2021/2022 harvest sometime in the summer of 2022. The second reason is that if we can pay farmers up front for the harvest, it will help them a lot. Farmers bear the most costs during harvesting and processing, and if they pay at least part of the harvest in advance, it will help them a lot. So it’s win-win, as I call it, because the customer and the farmer win.

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You mentioned that the bestseller from your show is coffee from Cuba. why? After all – Cuba as a country in the world of coffee, compared to Brazil, Kenya, Costa Rica or Ethiopia, does not have such cveng.

It has a strong texture and a chocolate flavour. Slovaks like that. But Brazilian coffee and other dark roast coffees from South and Central America also sell. Our blends, which we make ourselves, also go very well. The ELITE blend has always been the best-selling coffee in our roastery.

Source: Tomas Turek

Personally, I prefer more acidic coffee. why?

For me, it’s more like 50 to 50. For espresso, I prefer darker roasts than the aforementioned elite, or different Arabica. On the filter, I like to enjoy selected light roasted coffees. We currently have a broken coffee machine in the roaster, so we all only drink filters (smile).

Your personal preferences are certainly reflected in the Coffeein offer. To what extent? Because the Slovak market is still dominated by the most conservative coffee lovers.

Coffeein has a unique roasting style, which we have been perfecting for many years. Our dark roast coffee is not burnt and the customer will still find a slight acidity in the background, because the coffee is actually a fruit. Even when roasting darkly, we try to preserve the unique properties of the coffee. This style suits many of our customers. And of course not others and looking for a hotter and darker roast coffee. But that’s fine, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Each customer has his own preferences. Our range of light roast coffees is distinctly light and fruity. We bake it for filter coffee. This roasted coffee preserves all the characteristics of the taste. Our roasters sell about 75 percent of dark roasted coffee and 25 percent of light roasted coffee.

Your ambition is not to constantly grow the volume of roasted coffee, but to try to change the quality. How did you come to this decision?

Simply. The market for selected coffee in Slovakia is small and cannot be grown indefinitely. But we try to find a “sweet spot”, when our roastery is so large that we can buy interesting coffee directly from the farmers, but so as not to become a soulless sentence. We’re currently working on about 75 percent of production, so we still have some room where we can grow. Of course, we are constantly working on quality. We only work with the freshest crops, taste our coffee every week and source only what we are 100% satisfied with.

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Every year you prepare a new line of products. What are you preparing for fall?

Autumn will be special. We have prepared a special mixture of only good feelings. In this case, it is not only about the coffee, but also about promoting the idea and positive thinking, and of course the great coffee in the package like a bonus that always starts these positive thought processes. Coffee is roasted on a filter, or if someone likes fruit espresso.

Covina managed to survive the epidemic in relatively good shape. why?

The pandemic has favored online stores, so this is likely the main reason. We have a fully developed online store and the pandemic has helped us start it even more. On the other hand, we lost a lot of customers from companies and cafes, and the matter settled down.

In 2015, you said your desire to have a coffee shop – since 2011, but you’re not 100% ready yet. Today you have it, in Grosslingova in Bratislava. When did the moment come when you said to yourself: Am I ready for coffee?

We finally opened the cafe in March 2019 and it came unexpectedly. Sometimes I’d look at Pazos’ operations that were remote. I found an ad for a coffee shop that was leaving downtown, but there were no pictures or address. Finally, my colleagues and I went to see it, and as soon as we entered the area we knew it was our “own” cafe. Lovely large glass windows, space divided according to our need, and the energy that radiates there, told us to choose it. We were on tour in January 2019 and in March 2019 we actually opened our first coffee shop in Bratislava.

Source: Tomas Turek

In the cafe you prepare not only coffee, but also mixed drinks, you can make a daily menu, you have breakfast and lunch. How was this concept born?

From the start, we wanted such a concept. Coffee, cake, some food under the teeth – they just belong together. We make everything ourselves. We have our own production of cakes, sweets, spreads and other foods that we make in the cafe in the kitchen. We have a variety of breakfast dishes as well as a lunch menu that the chef prepares fresh every day. I think a coffee shop with coffee alone would be a big problem to feed yourself and your staff. This makes it a little easier. And of course it is also our coffee shop and a place to collect personal coffee, which people order from the online store. So it is a multifunctional space.