The Visit’s Head Roaster, Jasper Springeling, on turning his pastime into a career, the third wave in Berlin, and why good coffee is only 50% the coffee itself

For some, hobbies become so invested in that they eventually stop existing as recreational pastimes alone and become an active part of one’s life, sometimes over a current career. Which is exactly what happened to Jasper Springeling, Head Roaster at The Visit Coffee Roastery. For Jasper, working in the coffee business was never a set in stone professional path at first, though the passion had always existed within. “I had coffee as a hobby. I studied art and design, worked freelance, but I always wanted to try something new and move to a different city.”

 

As many others before him, Jasper was keen on Berlin, having spent a while in his native’s Dutch capital as a designer in a landscape architecture office. Though he was thriving financially, he didn’t feel as fulfilled creatively. Eventually, his move into coffee became more strategic — “better planned” as he would describe. “The time I spent at the office, I was also doing research, trying to expand my coffee knowledge and reading what was out there at the time. I had luck that a friend of mine from Guatemala brought me back a kilo of green coffee beans and I knew that when she gave me that kilo, that I had to do something with it.”

 

Enter Berlin — though the city is a current hub of cool cafes, unique roasters, and more and more speciality coffee shops, ten years ago it wasn’t the place one would expect to move to for an expansive career in coffee. Berlin wasn’t known for its brewing techniques or its coffee houses in the same way it exists in the likes of Rome, Lisbon or Vienna. But that has since changed, “making a complete 180,” says Jasper. “In terms of specialty coffee, no where else in Europe is like Berlin, where in this one square kilometer, there are seven roasteries,” he says of Kreuzberg, housing The Visit, but also established names like Bonanza, Five Elephant, as well as younger ones like Concierge and Populus.

 

He says the “old notions” of coffee are what prevents bigger European cities from catching up to the third wave movement that began in Seattle and Portland in the United States. Nevertheless, Berlin is thriving, quickly catching up to fuel a movement in Europe. “In Paris, it’s so embedded, their cultural inheritance for art and food, but they’re slow with coffee, among other things, that are new and fresh, because they’re ‘old-school,’” Jasper says of the French capital. Berlin, however, is a city that embraces the new and the different, which is why it continues to draw people in from all over the world, and not just for its coffee alone. It’s to be noted that the World of Coffee, Europe’s largest Specialty Coffee trade show, will take place in Berlin next year.

 

Back in 2010, Jasper’s New Year’s Resolution was to finally make great strides in Berlin, using his situation in Amsterdam to shape the next stage of his career upon his departure. After leaving The Netherlands, followed by a short stint at Bonanza, he worked his way up from washing dishes, taking on barista work, to then helping roast, and finally running a roastery on his own. 8 years later, he is the Head Roaster at The Visit, having been a part of the team for two years. “I see the potential of what can be. Everything is state of the art and there are no better machines than the ones here. And I’ve traveled and done my research.”

 

Yet, Jasper makes clear that good coffee isn’t about machinery alone. Coffee is ever-changing: a growing landscape that evolves with the market and remains relevant, no matter what part of the world you’re from or move to. “There’s no way around it,” he says optimistically, “you can have an amazing espresso one day, and the next day, another factor will affect it. For me, coffee can be as good as the coffee really is. The rest of it is perception. Coffee itself is 50% what makes it good and the other percent is all the rest, be it the barista that helped you with a smile, the sun shining, what your day has been like; all those factors are equally as important to the coffee experience.”