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November Part 1: MAN VS MACHINE, Munich

November Part 1: MAN VS MACHINE, Munich

Posted by Daniel Carlsson on


MAN VS MACHINE from Munich was founded in 2014 in Munich by Marco and Cornelia Mehrwald with a clear ambition to roast only the best coffee, and being almost too progressive for the coffee-scene back then. 

Now MVSM, has an established name and their coffees are served in all kinds of settings, including the coolest coffee-bars around and even Michelin star restaurants. 

In this short interview you will get to know them and their philosophy, and be able to develop a deep appreciation for their art. Sit back and enjoy.

 

You are two co-founders, who also happen to be a couple, did you both have experience in coffee from before? 

- Only one of us worked in a café before, but we took our time (more than 18 months) to not only prepare the business, but mostly ourselves with all kinds of knowledge and experiences - like learning the physics and all things about roasting and everything that was out there back then in 2012 regarding specialty coffee. Once I read a really long blog entry about a rather small, tiny detail of extraction - something very, very nerdy - the blog ended: „….and if you read until this point, get out and get a life, dude….“ I don’t remember which blog it was but the last sentence struck me. That was when we felt we are finally kind of ready... This would not have been possible without the help of some great people who supported and consulted us with knowledge as well as operational experiences in the beginning - those people were Kiduk and his crew (Jasper, Felix and others) from Bonanza Coffee in Berlin.

What made you start your own business in coffee?

- Passion and love for coffee for more than a decade would be the obvious answer and it’s true still. Traveling showed us how great coffee can be already 10 years before we opened MvsM. So, that was first and foremost our motivation. But another thing was the objective to set up something that’s good for anyone involved. Better coffee is good for the people at origin, because they get their fair share, for the baristas who get a true perspective in working with a better product in a better environment, and last but not least, it’s better and nicer for the coffee drinker, too. And we wanted to build a company that’s all about the quality and 100% independent - financially and in decision making.

How was the startup journey?

- Tough. All the things no one sees are the things consuming the most energy and time. Like financials, plumbing issues, getting approvals by local authorities, etc. But it was great, too, because - we were received quite well right from the start so we knew we can keep it going and keep it coming. But rest assured - the first years you make very little money and you have even less spare time. I think you can’t set up a great coffee business if you are a good entrepreneur only. But I strongly believe you also can’t set up a good coffee business if you just love coffee. I think all the great roasters out there represent an almost unlimited love for the product and at the same time some true entrepreneurial spirit. Otherwise they won’t be around for a long time.

Your branding/design is great. How did you come up with the name MAN VS MACHINE and how did you come up with the style your brand should have?

- I made a list with two names I was thinking about. We decided that we really like the name Man vs Machine - and we were surprised it was not out there already, since it perfectly represents not only the approach of crafted coffee versus industrial coffee - but also the battle of the barista and the roaster with the machine - every day - just to get better every day. I would also like to state that Man was never meant to mean male (some non-natives do understand it wrong) it always refers to human being vs machine. If we would not have called ourselves Man vs Machine - we would have been Kohi Do - which is Japanese and means "the Way of the Coffee" as "Ken do" (a sport I did) means way of the sword, Cha-Do (Ceremonial Tea), Bushido (Way of the warrior) etc…this would have represented our approach to strive for perfection, knowing that there is never such a thing as perfection.

May be an image of one or more people and text that says "MAN Vs MACHINE MAN VERSUS MACH TERS T F"

Where does the crocodile come from and what does it represent?

- Jon Contino did draw it. (He is very famous today - he recently did the new branding for the Chicago White Sox, and other great projects in the meantime). We were not able to offer him a lot of money, but I told him we offer a lot of freedom and fun and luckily that worked for him, too (he already was quite a name in the US back then and had projects for Harley Davidson, La Marzocco, Nike, etc…). Then Jon came up with 12 sketches - 11 of them were kind of related to the name "Man vs Machine" - but one wasn’t - the crocodile. But we just fell in love with it so we went for it - cause that’s one thing about being independent - you don’t have to do what seems smart - you can do what feels right instead (everyone - literally everyone told us the name would not work… then everyone told us the crocodile makes no sense and will never work…;) but we just liked it. The briefing we gave to Jon was how our brand should feel like: Scandinavian freshness meets Japanese attention to detail meets California skate culture (this was a really bad briefing by the way but it worked for him ;)

How has your roastery/coffee-shop evolved since 2014?

- We became much more efficient which makes everyones life easier. And we got bigger. But we always kept the spirit of putting quality before growth - so we turned down a lot of tempting offers from amazon to sell our coffee or from hotel chains when they asked for cheap Robusta Blends and stuff….Now we are a very healthy small company, doing what we feel is right. No one does any unpaid extra hours, we pay everyone above family living wage, we support the local community (Münchener Tafel, etc.) and we buy more and more coffees directly while still buying coffees from our partners from day one - like Nordic Approach.

All of your coffee was really delicious. How do you choose the coffees & what is the roast profile you are aiming for?

- Thanks. We choose coffees we really like and think, we will remember 6 months after we had them. (Some of our coffees I still remember after years). And we want every coffee to be sweet and balanced! And to show something, that particular coffee stands for. I personally like washed Kenyan and Ethiopian coffees, other members of the team like naturals, while others prefer funky processing…..in the end, a great cup of coffee means that a  particular coffee is as good as it can be - whether that coffee is super chocolaty or very fruity or just intensely floral. In the end, we still are on our Kohi Do - the way to find the perfect - knowing we will never get there ;)

If you'd find you'd like to add something else to the interview, please feel free to do it. 

- NAH, WE’RE GOOD. JUST - THANKS TO YOU GUYS (AND ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE OUT THERE), HELPING GETTING MORE PEOPLE INTO BETTER COFFEE. AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR PEOPLE AT ORIGIN AND ROASTERS LIKE US.

 

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Hope you enjoyed reading this interview, and just as us, found some wisdom in it. We would now like to introduce the first featured coffee: a syrupy fruity coffee with sweet tones of caramel and dried fruits. With its origin in Tarrazu, Costa Rica, this is a perfectly honey-processed coffee that will delight any rainy November afternoon. 

 

EL TRAPICHE

Country: Costa Rica

Region: Tarrazu

Producer: Abuelos Tarrazu, La Esperanza

Process: Honey

Altitude: 1500 - 1700 masl

Variety: Caturra & Catuai

 

Costa Rica Tarrazu Familia Monge Full Natural GrainPro | | Royal Coffee

The farm where this coffee comes from is located in the province of San José, Costa Rica. The 5-ha farm is owned and managed by father Rodolfo Monge and son Gustavo Monge. Gustavo and his family have been producing coffee for 60-70 years, and it was his grandparents that started the production. 

Rodolfo has more than 40 years of experience cultivating coffee but has only been processing the families coffee for the last four years in large part because of Gustavo’s interest in creating traceability for his family's coffee.

The farm now has its own micro-mill where cherry selection, depulping, and drying are meticulously executed with a focus on balancing environmental impact with expressive cup profiles.

In this Honey process they use cherries that are super ripe and Gustavo puts the coffee in a siphon where it is given an Aerobic fermentation time of 12 hours, then it is moved to a simple floating system (tanks with water). After this the coffee is depulped.
Gustavo then moves the sticky beans to sun dry on raised beds for approximately 15 days.

This is how Man VS Machine brews it:

FILTER: 

Input: 14g 

output: 200g 

Time: 2:00-2:30 min 

Blooming: 40g till 0:45 min

 Use 14g of coffee, bloom with 40g till 0:45min. Top up to 200g, swirl 2 times to create an even coffeebed, let it drain. 

The coffee should be finished by 2:00 - 2:30 min. 

ESPRESSO:

Input: 18g 

Output: 42g

Time: 38 sec

 

If you have ordered November's coffee-box with three coffees then the third featured coffee is also from MAN VS MACHINE.

KELLOO HARU 

Country: Ethiopia

Region: Yirgacheffe

Producer: Haru

Process: Fully washed

Altitude: 1800 masl

Variety: 74112, 1377

 

Origin photo
Haru is a small family-owned farm and washing station in Yirgacheffe. It showcases the very unique potential of farming at scale in Ethiopia, and of producers who own the means to process coffee. The family process their own coffee and also buy and process cherries from 453 local farmers. 

Coffee cherries are harvested by family members, then hand-sorted to remove unripe and overripe cherries before they are delivered to the washing station for processing. Afterwards the coffees are washed in channels, and graded in water by density. The lower density (lower quality) will float and are removed, leaving
only the denser and therefore higher quality beans which are separated as higher grade lots. Parchment is then soaked in tanks in clean water for 6-12 hours before it is moved to the drying tables where it is dried on raised beds in the sun for 12 - 15 days.

Three generations of producers have a hand in producing this coffee, with layered florals of orange blossom, tea-like character and great clarity.

 

This is how MAN VS MACHINE brews it:

FILTER:

Input: 14g 

Output: 200g

Time: 2:30 - 3:00 

Blooming: 40g till 0:45min

Use 14g of coffee, bloom with 40g till 0:45min. Top up to 200g, swirl 2 times to create an even coffeebed, let it drain. 

The coffee should be finished by 2:30 - 3:00 min. 

 ESPRESSO:

Input: 18g 

Output: 36g 

Time: 36 sec

- MAN VS MACHINE would even like to offer a little extra discount to purchases made by you in their own webshop. Use the code swerl_coffee_club_11 for 11% discount at https://mvsm.coffee until the 31st of December 2021. -

Now that you've gotten the chance to get acquainted with Man VS Machine and hopefully even brewed their beautiful coffee, onto the second featured roaster of November, none other than Three Marks Coffee from Barcelona.