Your café has been attracting  more and more customers. Do you ever struggle with lack of room?
I do, but this is the way I wanted it. I like the space and I think it’s just about suitable for a beginner. In addition, you get to know who is who pretty well. Some people can easily make space for others without anyone having to tell them to, others don’t even think about it. You might call it school of tolerance.

One of the dominants of the space is a beautiful old coffee machine from Italy. Does it serve rather as a design feature, or is it something that helps make your coffee famous as well?
Faema E61 is significant because of its technical innovations it was constructed with in 1961 and those have influenced manufacture of other coffee machines ever since. Our machine has a tag with the date of production 17.3. 1967. Of course I had loved what it looked like and when I was looking for it online, I came across an ad offering this beauty I have. As for coffee, it is a bit ambiguous. I like the simple mechanic principle with no electronics, where the careful manipulation of a barista is extremely important. On the other hand, it doesn’t make the preparation of coffee for us any easier, as the entire setting has to be done manually, often with the assistance of a technician. Anyway, during the two years the café has been open, I think we’ve managed to tune it up and we are not afraid of dismantling it ourselves from time to time. Sometimes I think it was designed for women - it is round, logic, we like working with it.

The concept of the interior states your name and the result seems like the work of a professional architect. Have you had any prior experience dealing with interior design?
I have quite a few friends who are architects. That’s a great thing which happened to me during my short studies of clothing design at VŠUP. I dedicated around 10 years working at fashion brand Leeda, which I co - established, until I realized that I was making too many compromises and eventually it stopped making sense. So I dusted off an old vision of a café and immersed myself in it. I confess it was great therapy, a large portion of freedom that I had needed, where the result depended just on me. Luckily, I completely fell for running of the place too, caring for customers, pampering the employees and great human discoveries among providers of coffee and colleagues from the field, whom I value highly. The interior debut I later successfully defended, I hope, by the reconstruction of the EMA espresso bar, that I did in cooperation with architect Pavel Griz from The Molo Architects.

What is your stance on alternative methods of coffee preparation, as for instance the French press? Is it actually possible to make oneself good coffee at home?
I’m in love with aeropress. Totally. For me it is definitely the best and simplest way to prepare coffee. Great at home, on travels, everywhere. When you climb mountains with a backpack, you don’t carry around any extra weight, when you heat up water and the wind blows, you can’t control the temperature, when it’s cold, you don’t care about setting the grinder, the water you use is different each time. Only that way you’ll know all the tastes possible from one sack of coffee.

Your café is supplied with sweets from various bakers and food bloggers. How did you discover them?
For example blog Chez Lucie I had found about a year before we opened. I contacted her and during our meeting we talked just about food and sweets. I thought her overall enthusiasm was absolutely awesome and that, by the way, is also evident on her blog. I don’t think I know anyone else with such attitude. Detached view and honesty are indeed rare. So Lucie Dvořáková was the first. Another phenomenon at our place are kremrole. They come from a normal candy shop. I tasted it the first time at the farmer’s market at Dejvice and they were almost boiling, that is how hot it was, but they tasted amazing. The supplies are a little hard to rely on, we’ve wanted to change them several times, but there is not a place that has better kremrole and our customers love them. Currently, after a year of tuning, we’re starting to co-operate with a talented ice-cream maker of Tři kopečky. Her fantasy of flavours is infinite. The way I found her was just long searching, testing and waiting. It is worth it.

It is sometimes also you who prepares coffee behind the bar. Do you consider it a duty or is it what you enjoy about your work?
I really love this kind of work. It is important to me. I learn to  know what the customers want, and thanks to that, I know what to request from my employees. A lot things I can’t budge with for days get miraculously solved during the shift. Also I Need Coffee! has, regardless of a few dramatic exceptions, incomprehensibly stable atmosphere, which is good. As soon as I walk in, I feel better.

(Lucie Trnková, I Need Cofee! owner)


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Do you have any particular relationship with Karlín that factored in your decision to not only open your café here but also to name it after this quarter?
We do now, of course. We actually formed this attachment when we opened the café. Adam even moved to Karlín afterwards. Today, Karlín to us is a beautiful and very pleasant quarter.
 
Surely there are dozens of customers coming to your café every day. Do you have regulars from Karlín whom you know by name? How long did it take to win their favour?
Naturally we do. We attempt to offer more to people than just selling coffee. If you put your heart into it, people will know and will like to come back. I guess we know around twenty regulars by name, although there are many more who stop by regularly every day. Some of them we remember from the markets and they followed us here. That makes us incredibly happy.
 
What are your favourite places in the neighbourhood that you visit regularly?
In Karlín there are plenty of interesting and much liked places, for example the interesting foursome located in a row on Křižíkova Street: Veltlin, Tea Mountain, Můj šálek kávy, and Garage. Mostly we go to Lokál Hamburk, though, which is just round the corner, or to the newly opened bar Diego. A bar, or actually a pub, offering a good selection of local and foreign beers had been missing here. With Lokál it is really nice that their staff sometimes come to us for coffee in return.
 
Besides Kafe Karlín you also own Kávový klub and Kafe Kolej. How are these projects interlinked?
That’s simple – via high quality. Kávový klub is sort of an umbrella organisation, under it we organise courses or sell our roasted coffee. All our cafés and stands have a high-quality and properly made coffee in common. Thus we have customers visiting different branches depending on where they are at the moment. We cannot forget to mention our wonderful baristas because you can see that as well as our coffee, customers come to see them, too.

What is the difference between making coffee under limited conditions of a small stand and in a fully equipped café?
When you take away the natural elements – such as the wind, rain, sun, constantly blown coffee, humidity and temperature changes that make it really hard to set a coffee grinder and can accidentally cause sun tanning on the verge of sunstroke, or frostbitten lips to the point where you can hardly repeat customer’s ‘double espresso with a dash of milk’ order - making coffee outside is not that different from a cup prepared comfortably in a café. You have to adapt to a lot of things but it’s possible. Generally speaking, making coffee outside is easier when it’s 25°C than in -5°C, which is a temperature in which we are also able to work.
 
What does a person have to be able to manage in order to become a great barista? How did you two become baristas?
Barista is actually a profession and one needs time to learn it. It’s not as easy as it looks from the other side of the counter. You need to be patient, have discipline, and we can also call it being detail-oriented. One must always try and experiment, and possibly test new ways how to improve the taste of coffee. Zdeněk became a barista almost naturally – after finishing gastronomic school and working in a café he had become gradually more and more interested in the profession. He was lucky to meet and work with good people, and then it was crystal-clear that his life would revolve around coffee. Adam’s journey was noticeably more complicated, although started with a cup of good coffee. He considers tasting his first cup of high-class coffee to be the beginning of it all.
 
(Adam Dvořák and Zdeněk Smrčka, owners of Kafe Karlín)

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Spud. is an unconventional Prague city guide, that highlights its interesting spots and local businesses that are really worth visiting. With a Polaroid camera, we’re mapping four different areas: food and drinks, shops, workplaces of creative people and architecture. Spud. is focused on fresh places with unique atmosphere, cafés with the best coffee, shops with the finest goods, workshops and studios of the most skilled designers and architectural attractions with the greatest charm. Spud. is also mainly about people, who stand behind these projects. Without their invention and courage to fulfill their dreams Prague would be a much poorer place. That’s why we’re so grateful to all of them!
 
Tereza a Michal
info@spud.cz / 728 764 380



 
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