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When Kresten Thøgersen decided six years ago to open his own gourmet coffee shop, he knew he would need to invest a lot of money to stand out in Melbourne.
He did not have the cash needed and could also not see a way to get a hold of it. Convinced that he could find his place somewhere in the world, Kresten did some market research and came to the conclusion that the cities of Copenhagen, San Francisco or Berlin would provide the perfect base for his endeavour.
“I chose Berlin,” he laughs, “ended up moving here and opened up my own café, Father Carpenter.”
In the years since he has not regretted his decision. Although sometimes he thinks he should have moved to San Francisco because the climate might be better there than in Berlin.
“On the other hand I also understand that the world and humans, in general, need to have equilibrium,” he says. “There needs to be balance. For every good thing, there is also a bad thing. If I lived in San Francisco there would be things to complain about and there would be pros as well.”
Indeed, he realised that the harsh winters of Berlin are actually a really good thing for business, as well as for people.
“It forces close proximity,” he says. “You spend so much time in close proximity with people and find out who your true friends are that would actually have your back. You have less quantity, but higher quality friends.”
Coming from Australia’s café capital Melbourne six years ago to Berlin, which then had a rather simple filter coffee culture, Kresten was surprised at how quickly people embraced a new way of drinking coffee.
“The specialty coffee movement progressed at a really fast speed in a really short amount of time,” he says. “Businesses in Berlin and the rest of Germany started to buy better grown and better-processed coffee from their origins. By now they are exceptionally good in roasting and brewing coffee.”
One hurdle in setting up Father Carpenter was Berliner bureaucracy.
“It actually slowed things down,” Kresten says, “but allowed me to understand things a bit better. So I think it was a godsend. It was kind of helpful.”
Asked if he believes he is bringing a piece of Melbourne’s coffee culture to Berlin, Kresten says he is not so sure. Australians and Germans are different in a way, he thinks.
“I don’t think that’s interchangeable to try to bring a culture in because it would feel you forcing something in. It’s a square peg in a round hole. So it’s more about trying to aid in development and appreciation of something that I know can and should be appreciated and developed.”