A journalist, owner of STOR on Tamka Street. He has recently published “Coffee Spots Polska”, a specialty coffee shops guide. Krzysztof Rzyman together with Agnieszka Bukowska and a cameraman Vitalii Gudkov have traveled the entire country, tasted coffee, talked with baristas and owners of cafes to finally choose 170 places that were included in their guide. Warsaw is particularly highly represented.
Let’s dispel here once and for all the widely held myth that we only drink soy latte in Warsaw. Which coffee is the most popular at STOR?
– Customers order filter coffee because they have it right away. No need to wait. And it is not expensive – 10 PLN.
When I go to a cafe how such a coffee layman like me knows that the coffee there is good?
– It is difficult because if you don’t have sufficient knowledge you have to trust a person behind a counter. That is why we have made this guide so that you know where to go.
If I see behind a counter a guy with a beard, tattoos and next to him a fixed-gear bike does it bode well?
– We joke about it in our book that in the past there used to be such dress code among good baristas. This trend is over.
What questions should you ask a person standing behind a counter? Where does the coffee come from, which roastery, when was it roasted? Beans are the key. And the entire process as well. If you have bean which comes from a small plantation, is of good quality, you know how it got to Europe, to which roastery and finally, if you know how to brew it properly you are in our league.
In your guide, you present places already known and respected by coffee enthusiasts. Where there any surprises on the way? Any new revelations?
– We definitely wanted to discover new places. And we are satisfied with our explorations. For example in Racibórz, in a newly opened Migawka cafe, we met an excellent owner Wojtek Kamiński. He lived abroad for a long time and after he came back, in an old photo studio which belonged to his father, he opened a Brooklyn-like cafe.
The criterion for selection of places for this guide was only coffee or was it for example interior as well?
– Coffee definitely. We solemnly described all the places, which fulfilled two criteria: if there is filter coffee and if beans on shelves are from specialty segments.
Such a thick book can only prove that we can observe a real coffee revolution?
– For sure. And Poland is not lagging behind. What is more, it is in the European lead. We can pride on our this year’s World Barista Champion Agnieszka Rojewska. We have a rash of small roasteries which care about quality. In every big city, you can drink fine coffee. In Germany, apart from Berlin, it is not so obvious. In Poznań, there are over twenty excellent cafes, in Cracow and Tricity a dozen or so.
What distinguishes them from chain store cafes?
– Those people who run small, independent cafes, serve specialty cafe do it with passion and devotion. Whereas for chain cafes it is only business.
Can you recommend us some of the less known cafes in Warsaw?
– Maybe let’s start with your neighbourhood. U Krawca and Żona Krawca – two cafes run by Przemek and Michał. When they started a few years ago everyone was tapping their foreheads. People used to go downtown for coffee, not stay in Grochów. And nowadays these places are full of customers.
On the right side of the Vistula there is also Hałas. A combination of fine coffee and a vinyl shop. Everything in such a tiny space.
In the centre, we have Forum which reopened in a new location. It is known from its dark place next to Klub Komediowy in Zbawiciela Square. It is a mecca for baristas. Worth visiting. Relax on Wilcza Street is also a novelty on the Warsaw coffee track. Behind a well-equipped counter, you can meet excellent and always smiled baristas. I like dropping by. When you go a bit further, and I know you like traveling, visit Frykasy Rarytasy in Wesoła and Posiaduffka in Rembertów.
I will definitely check it out. And what were the origins of STOR?
– I used to work for Polskie Radio and about 5 years ago I started thinking about my own place. I didn’t want to resign from my journalism but only start something new. With Michał Janica we decided to open a cafe. A place where you won’t make a great deal out of coffee, but where you can sit and talk about it or even sweeten it a bit. I know you like it sweet. Mateusz Kubik helped us. You can meet him at Relax at Pasaż Wiecha from time to time. We have some people in our staff from the MiTo cafe. That was the time when this scene was being formed. There were already such iconic places as Filtry, Ministerstwo Kawy, Relaks. However, the awareness of clients was just raising. And this is how it all started.
Last year I set up my own micro-publishing house Storming The City, which has published “Varsavia”, the first Warsaw cafe guide. Opposite STOR we have opened a shop with plants called Roślinny STOR. We were known for having a great variety of plants at our cafe which started to expand and we didn’t have enough place for them. We grow on Tamka.
What are your professional dreams?
– On Tamka we are spreading passion for coffee. We are just about to launch the Beans Guru coffee subscription. For people who like to brew their coffee at home or work it will be fun. And I would like to publish more books and create videos. This is what spins me. On the occasion of our coffee guide, we have created vlogs from our coffee trips and we have made a document on the history of specialty coffee in Poland which we showed at our premiere. I also have a YouTube channel covering business topics. In October I start a new series of interviews. I believe in the future of such productions and quality journalism. I also dream about a creative space such as 368 in New York.
Interview: Agnieszka Kowalska
Photos: Aga Bilska