While traveling through Europe and the U.S., I interviewed coffee shop owners. I feel at home in third wave coffee shops. For me, they provide refuge. They often collect customers in creative fields, writers, photographers, designers. The atmosphere is filled with ideas and the thrill of a good cup of coffee is cathartic. There is an underlying kindredness that runs through these shops, and through this, their owners. I found each coffee shop owner to be eloquent, passionate, and personable. Despite the consistency in strength of their underlying passion, each have their own coffee philosophies. Coffee philosophy.

Owner Name: Jan Lorentzen
Founder and Owner of: Blom, Kaffemisjonen, Landmark
Location: Bergen Norway

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“To me my favorite part of owning these shops I really believe is the same as when I was working as a barista, and something I can miss now a nd then, now that I’m doing about 40% behind the counter service, and its the working in the bar, communicating the coffee to the guests. To me that is the most fun.”

Founder and Owner: Ingibjörg Jóna Sigurðardóttir
Founder and Owner of:  Reykjavik Roasters
Location: Reykjavik, Iceland

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Coffee just changes throughout the day. Almost every hour you have to check it again. With the espresso you have to really look at what you are doing and see the different areas of the same coffee. It’s amazing, because coffee is like an organ or a person. Something that’s very much alive. You can’t really control anything. That’s kind of made the most extraordinary part of coffee. You cannot control it, you cannot decide how its going to be. Or like with making your Aeropress, we can’t completely tell you what you are drinking. We can tell you what beans you are drinking, and the method that we used, and what we did, but the outcome is going to always be different, like the connection with you and the coffee, because you also have a different flavor palate than we do. So we can tell you it’s going to taste like “almonds or hazelnuts” and you can be like “it’s more like chocolate.”

Owner Name: Konstantin & Maria Raylyan
Founders and Owner of: West 4
Location: Moscow, Russia

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Our coffee shops is based on three points: coffee, music and art. We have art exhibitions and concerts here. We are known for this in Moscow. Every time we travel somewhere we pick up some records to play in our shop. We were looking for something that could be interesting from a business point of view and meet our expectations in terms of cultural activities and artistic endeavors. This shop is exactly what we found to be the mix of those. It is not only a way in which to make money, but a way in which to create space for people to be comfortable and to do something unconventional in this city.

Owner Name: Ralf Rüller
Founders and Owner of: The Barn Location (3 locations)
Location: Berlin, Germany

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We really want to run this like a sustainable business and motivate people to contribute and then reward them for it, so it has transformed to be more organic and long term. Everything we do is very focused around making better product. We are very happy to be very different with that and to be strongly minded in how we serve product and what our preferences are. It’s an education process for many; its how you say it and how you guide people toward coffee, and then everyone can make an informed choice. I learned, personally, how beautiful coffee can be, but I also learned how to be more tolerant toward other options; it’s like a car market for me, some people just want four wheels.

Ultimately, I think it is very important is to make farm circumstances better. I want to simultaneously guide people toward the beautiful flavor, cleanliness, and quality of coffee while maintaining payment as direct to the farm as possible.

Owner Name: Saadat & Janine Awan
Founders and Owner of: woodcat Coffee Bar
Location: Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A

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We noticed that there wasn’t any really good coffee in Echo Park, and it was our neighborhood. I’ve always not been one to be sitting behind a computer. I work on motorcycles, I go riding, I go on racetracks, I write music and go on tours and writing records. I like variety.

As small business owners, we keep this neighborhood clean and safe for customers, so we learn a lot. We make coffee because if you look at what we are doing we are doing, we are giving somebody something that they are going to be putting in their body, and if you look at it that way it’s a lot of responsibility. It’s not just going to an art gallery and looking at something or going to a show and listening to music. Though those are also things that that make people feel something, putting something in your body is a big deal. And so for us, we want to make sure it’s the best product that we can give the customer to ingest. Down to the pastries, we only carry things we can be proud of selling. That is why we have such a limited menu. We don’t want to have a lot of things. We would rather have a few things and have it be the best stuff we can get. That its unique.

The philosophy we are going after: be small and be good.