This weekend at my Pop Up Cafe in Stone & Crow, I featured Five Elephant from Berlin, Germany – and I was not disappointed!
Five Elephant is owned and run by Kris Schackman and his (now wife) Sophie, who he credits as the biggest support for him, amongst his past and present staff that he is also grateful for. Like most good things, Five Elephant took time to permeate. Kris used to drink coffee in his university days back in the 90’s, at one of coffee’s most influential, original coffee thinkers and acclaimed author, Scott Rao’s Café and something stuck. After some research and being seduced by NYC & Massachusetts coffee and roasteries, fifteen years later Five Elephant was born.
The name apparently comes from a story in Idaho where an elephant tail was seen by a man, flying through the air with an elephant running behind him, leading him to five continents where he learned to pick coffee… hence the name. It may or may not be a tall story, but either way it is a visually compelling one, which reflects in their beautiful packaging.
Kris and I seem to be inspired by similar things, such as a propensity to respect others who work hard and smart. Inspired to work harder towards making our lives better with better coffee, he is also inspired by others in the industry such as Tim Wendleboe, Peter Dupont and Klaus Thompson from the Coffee Collective. He believes in people who go out of their way and sacrifice something important, to add positive thinking to the world. That’s probably why he’s worked hard to get his business to a place where they are able to buy electricity generated by renewable technology in their shop and roastery! How cool is that!? With an aim to using an electric delivery vehicle in the next couple of years, it seems he is practicing his preach. Although, apparently German politics may be slowing this process, due to unsustainable tax breaks…Come on G! (Germany)
Starting his own business hasn’t been easy due to such tax laws that have made it hard to grow but he has achieved that slowly with perseverance and has moved from a 5kg Diedrich roaster onto a 25kg roaster – he attributes this “luck” to something similar to a leprechaun! I want to laugh not only because Kris seems to have a sense of humor and enjoys telling stories - but also because he seems to have a superstitious side too! He spent sometime explaining to me how in Germany its good luck to touch a Chimney Sweeper or “Schornsteinfeger” (like a leprechaun). Each district has one and in his first years opening, he would always touch his local Latte-drinking Schornsteinfeger! Though he assures me never inappropriately…
I used their Columbian espresso roast in the weekend and got a crisp sweetness to it. It was lighter roasted than I would normally use in espresso, but the taste was lovely. It was sweet and smooth with some acidity that didn’t overpower. Their filter coffees were amazing. I had a selection of Kenyan AA and AB (Which refers to size and quality of beans) Some Bifdu Gudina Ethiopian and El Socorro Guatemalan. I tried each in various methods; V60, Bravilor, Chemex and Aeropress. I basically enjoyed the El Soccoro in everything… The Kenyans were great in my batch brew too. I had the Bifdu Ethiopian in a chemex with a friend who swore he tasted the Magnolia notes. I need someone to bring me a magnolia to refresh my senses.
I peg Five Elephants to be doing some wonderful things in the future. Word amongst my fellow coffee peeps is that they’re a great bunch, doing great things – I’ve noticed their attention to quality seems to be improving consistently and their plans for better future is one I’m looking forward to see. Thanks to Kris, Sophie and PatrikRolf for being involved in my #RoundTheWorldIn8Weeks at Stone & Crow, Leytonstone
Cant wait to bring you more exciting coffee soon… Stay tuned. Hmmm, where to next…