There is no better way than to continue this month than with Wide Awake from Brussels in Belgium.
Wide Awake was founded in 2019 by Rutger & Senina after a chance encounter in London. Bonding over coffee, music and a love for the wonderful chaos that is Brussels, Wide Awake was born as a passion project.
Who are you guys that founded Wide Awake and how did you first meet?
- We are Rutger & Senina. We founded Wide Awake in 2019 after a chance encounter in London. I (Rutger) wanted to open a roastery in Brussels and was doing Roaster training in London. I met Senina at a cupping event organized by Caffeine Magazine. We immediately bonded over coffee, music and a love for the wonderful chaos that is Brussels :) Senina has a long background in coffee, having worked in the industry for 12 years now, of which 7 as a roaster. Before joining Wide Awake she was working for Assembly Coffee in London.
How did the idea to Wide Awake come to mind?
- In 2015 I lived in New York for a while and this is where I first fell into the rabbithole that is specialty coffee :-) I lived in a tiny, really crappy apartment but it had a nice coffee shop right next door. When I was back in Brussels I realized there weren't that many options for good coffee at the time. It took a couple of years of playing around at home with coffee brewing & home roasting (on a Huky 500T) but in 2019 I decided to go for it. When Senina joined the project we quickly found a place in the city centre and started setting up.
How was it to establish yourselves in Brussels and how is the coffee vibe there?
- The coffee scene has evolved very quickly in Brussels. Just 5 years ago there were not that many specialty coffee bars. Now we see new cafés opening all the time. What is nice is the diversity. From the small neighbourhood café to gastronomic Australian-style brunch places. You can find them all in Brussels these days. Covid has obviously made things harder but it also increased the appetite for better coffee among the Brussels population. There's more roasters as well now. Belgians used to go to Antwerp & Ghent for great coffee, but now I feel the centre of the specialty coffee movement is more & more shifting to Brussels.
You have a roastery and cafe, which one came first and how did you come up with opening up both?
- The roastery was first. We don't really have a café, it's more a shop where you can also try our coffees (but without seating, without food). This was a deliberate choice as we really wanted to focus on sourcing great coffees, developing the perfect roast profiles and providing excellent customer service to our café-customers. If we would have opened a café at the same time, I feel it would have been hard to put the same care & attention on the quality of our roasting.
We read that you also are into music, if it would be one song to listen to when sipping your coffee what would it be?
- Difficult question. I listen to a bit of everything, it really depends on my mood more than the coffee :) Let's go for something vibrant that fits the coffee's character : Gabriels - Love and Hate in a Different Time.
Altitude: 1800 masl
Producer: Coocentral Coop El Divinito #1
This lot was sourced from a couple of small producers of the Coocentral Coop in Huila. A lot of the farmers in Huila are so small that their harvest isn’t big enough for separate microlots. Coocentral groups these tiny outputs by quality & taste profile. This lot of 14 bags was called El Divinito #1.
The cherry was fully washed by the farmers. They depulp the cherry in the afternoon and immediately transfer it to a fermentation tank. Here floaters are removed and the coffee is fully washed before it moves to drying. Drying in Huila is a big challenge due to rain and high humidity, but the farmers of Coocentral have good structures with proper ventilation. They manage to dry the coffee down to below 11% in 10 – 18 days.
Recipe for filter (in this case V60):
|Ratio||15g coffee for 250g water (1:16,6)|
|Water||Use soft water (50-100ppm) at 90° C|
|Step 1||Grind 15g of coffee, rather coarse, somewhere between ground pepper and coarse sea salt.|
|Step 2||Put the paper filter in your brewer. Rinse the paper filter and discard the water.|
|Step 3||Add the coffee to the brewer and tap gently on the side to obtain a flat bed of coffee.|
|Step 4||Tare your scale and start the timer. Gently pour 50g of water in slow, circular motions. Preferably use a gooseneck kettle for superior flow control. Allow to bloom.|
|Step 5||At 0:30, slowly add water in circular motions until you hit 150g. Gently spin the brewer so all grounds submerge and are extracted evenly.|
|Step 6||At 1:00, slowly add more water until you hit 200g.|
|Step 7||At 1:30, slowly add more water until you hit 250g. Complete brewing time should be around 2:30.|
|Step 8||If the coffee runs too fast, grind finer. If the coffee runs too slow, grind coarser.|
Recipe for espresso:
|Prep||Use a scale to measure your dose and yield (= brewed liquid). Use soft water (100-150ppm).|
|Step 1||Grind 18g of coffee at a fine espresso setting (EK43 : 1.4)|
|Step 2||Distribute the coffee evenly in your portafilter and tamp level.|
|Step 3||Lock in the portafilter, gentle but firm. Don't crack the coffee bed.|
|Step 4||Start the machine. Measure 40g of brewed liquid in your cup in 27 seconds.|
|Step 5||If the coffee runs too fast, grind finer. If the coffee runs too slow, grind coarser.|
Thank you for reading and spending February with us.
See you next month for the last edition of our coffee-box. :)
Beatriz and Daniel