Louis-Phillipe and his partner Veronique left the security of Canada, where they both grew up, to start a new life in Europe - completely without interest in coffee.
Veronique says that she did not like coffee at all when they first arrived in Italy eight years ago. Veronique taught Italians English and she remembers how her courtesy led her to coffee.
- The students in the class took me after each lesson to one of the city's coffee bars where I came out each time shaking from a far too high caffeine intake!
But it was not until they moved to London that their great interest took off, where they were introduced to specialty coffee and gradually began to explore London's coffee scene. This time led to the acquisition of a small roasting machine which a little later led to a roasting course in Berlin for Louis-Philipe.
But wait a minute, how did you end up in Amsterdam?
I got a new job in venture capital in Amsterdam, which brought us there, but the interest in coffee was too great, Louis-Philipe answers.
We started thinking about starting a cooperative in Amsterdam to gather others with an interest in coffee, such as a place where new roasteries could share a roasting machine and knowledge, says Veronique.
The more they began to explore the interest, the more they quickly learned that an exact place they wanted to create already existed, in Amsterdam as well. ‘Perfect’ thought Veronique and Luis-Philipe who quickly joined the gang.
We have our own office but share a roasting machine with another roastery. We do not see each other as competitors at all, on the contrary, it is very rewarding. We test each other's coffee and exchange knowledge, says Louise-Philipe.
It was also very nice to not have to make the big investment of buying a new roast machine as a start-up, Veronique adds.
How did it all start and how did you come up with the name DAK?
Louis-Philipe starts laughing
I wish we had a cool story for this but we sat on the roof of our apartment in Amsterdam and tried to find a good name. Rooftop Coffee Roasters came to our minds but they already existed. We did a google translation into Dutch and ta-da DAK Coffee Roasters was born.
It took about a year before everything was in place with a website, marketing, finding coffee and setting roasting profiles, says Veronique. Due to the fact that we had no contacts in the country, it was very difficult to establish these connections as a start-up company. Loved ones in Canada got the company rolling in the beginning who kindly ordered our coffee, they both laugh.
But as locals began to find DAK, sales began to catch up and now, after just over two years, they have made their name known across most of Europe.
What is the secret behind this rapid development?
It is clear that coffee is the most important parameter in this, but there are many others who also roast good coffee but may not have worked as much on their branding and marketing as we have, Louis-Philipe humbly answers. Veronique has for most of her adult life worked with marketing, which has given DAK an extra push, he continues.
What is it like to run the business as a couple?
Despite the declines, it is fantastic to share the peaks together, but it is of course a bit difficult to separate work and leisure. We try not to talk about work after 21:00 and just put on some music! Which works sometimes, laughs Veronique.
I used to work at Venture Capital Company where we usually never invested in companies run by couples or family members, so at first I was a little reluctant to start something together. But we managed at an early stage to divide the work quite well, so we have different areas we are responsible for, so we do not usually collide, says Louis-Philipe.
We also have a relaxed policy, Veronique continues, if DAK ever stops being fun, we will just end DAK and move on with something else.
What are your plans for the future?
Our plans for the coming years are to create a stable production line, find local cafes that always want our coffee and thus create some form of stability for us. Right now, it can really change from week to week, says Louis-Philipe.
Louis-Philipe, which machine are you roasting on today?
I roast on an Italian-made 15 kg IMF machine, ie an air-roaster, which gives very good control and has many different variables to control and adjust.
How did you learn to roast?
By attending different roasting courses performed by SCA, which was very helpful because they taught us how to set a roasting profile and how different coffee behaves under different circumstances. We also trained very practically, set profiles, cupped and developed our own taste.
Do you have any good advice for someone who wants to start roasting?
I started myself with a small Gene Cafe many years before I started at a professional level, but it did not give much because it has nothing to do with roasting on a professional roasting machine. It gave more knowledge and an idea of how under- and over-developed coffee tastes. Otherwise, I can strongly recommend to cup a lot and evaluate quality and taste. Try to get help at a local roastery in exchange for knowledge. Taking roasting courses is a huge help, in that way you skip many mistakes that you would otherwise make when trying to teach yourself. But in the end, you learn the most by trying and roasting yourself. How the weather, for example, will affect your roasting is very difficult to learn without getting the knowledge the hard way.
The coffee we liked best, can you tell us a little more about it?
We buy this coffee directly from Gashuru Farms. One of the first experimental lots that this farm achieved with a 60 hour anaerobic fermentation. Which gives a fruit bomb with a deep complex taste of ripe pineapple, dark chocolate, honey, kiwi and mango. A good choice in other words!