Freshly roasted coffee in one hand

Munich’s coffee roasteries

From bean to cup

With the “third wave coffee” trend in full flow, there are more and more small coffee roasteries opening in Munich. We visited Fausto in Giesing to find out more and take a peek at the beans being roasted.

There is probably no other workplace that smells as good as this one, I think to myself as I walk into the Fausto coffee roastery in Giesing district on a sunny spring morning. Today I am shadowing founder, manager and roaster Klaus Wildmoser as he gets to work. Fausto has been around for 15 years already, and Wildmoser and his brother-in-law have roasted the coffee themselves the whole time – no mean feat given that Fausto now produces some 200 kilos of coffee per hour: a whopping 300 tonnes each year. “Of all the small independent coffee roasteries in Munich, we are probably the largest,” he reveals.

 

The trend: third wave coffee

There are around 25 roasteries in Munich, some with their own cafés attached, such as emilo, Man versus Machine and also Fausto. Roasting coffee has become quite the craze in recent years, and there are cafés opening on every corner serving coffee roasted in-house or sourced from small roasteries, and often employing special brewing methods too. This is the world of speciality coffee or the third wave coffee movement – so named in reference to the third wave of coffee appreciation, which is all about knowing the origin of the beans and processing them with care.

Wildmoser explains: “The first wave was before the war, when it was possible to train as an apprentice coffee roaster – all colonial traders used to roast and sell their own coffee in small village shops. When the Second World War broke out, it was not just the imported beans themselves that became scarce, but also the machines, which were largely melted down to produce weapons. The second wave was generated by television advertising in the ‘50s and ‘60s: suddenly brands were important – people only wanted to serve their visitors Melitta or Jacobs coffee.”

 

Temperature & drum speed – the roasting process

It’s still true that industrially roasted beans need to be cheap and consistently taste the same – that’s why they are only roasted for two to five minutes, unlike third wave coffee. At Fausto and other coffee roasteries, the roasting process takes 15 to 20 minutes. Freshness is also extremely important for the flavour, Klaus Wildmoser tells me: “With industrial roasting, months pass before the finished product reaches the supermarket shelf; the coffees we sell are no more than ten days old. Which means that if we switched off the roasters now, we would run out of coffee in a few days – that’s what sets us apart from the large roasteries.”

"It takes months from industrial roasting to the supermarket shelf. Our coffees in the shop are ten days old at the most."
Klaus Wildmoser

Third wave coffee can also vary in flavour between batches, as each harvest is a little different. With that in mind, Wildmoser mixes coffee from the previous year with the new coffee in equal amounts, to avoid any harsh transitions. However, some roasters believe that every year’s beans should taste unique, as we expect wine to. Which makes sense actually, because coffee contains an even wider variety of aromas than wine – and a good roaster is distinguished by the fact that they know how best to make these aromas unfold. 

So just how does that work when roasting coffee? “First of all you need to have a good raw product. There are multiple parameters you can influence during the roasting process: quantity, temperature, roasting time, air circulation in the drum and drum speed. Each parameter changes the product. Ultimately, it also depends on your intuition and experience. Roasting is actually a bit like cooking.” Klaus Wildmoser used to roast his coffee by hand, but today the machine does almost everything automatically while we chat at leisure.

 

The coffee bean: from plantation to jute sack

All he needs to do is press a few buttons now and again, or add fresh beans. These are still delivered in the traditional large jute sacks, because this material remains the best option for weeks-long sea crossings on a container ship. The sun blazes down on those ships during the day, while the nights are bitterly cold – and these conditions lead to condensation forming. The jute effectively balances humidity so that the beans do not go mouldy. Coffee is always shipped by the container-load, which means that the larger the roastery, the cheaper and more reliably it can procure its beans. Depending on the country of origin, each container carries between 12 and 15 tonnes of coffee, Wildmoser tells us.

And some coffees even develop uniquely individual flavours on the journey itself. One example here is Fausto’s popular India Monsooned Malabar, made from beans which swell in the salty sea air; Klaus Wildmoser shows us that those beans are noticeably larger when compared to other varieties. The region in which the beans are grown is also important. “African coffees have a more pronounced acidity than those from Central America – that’s because of the soil but also how the beans are cultivated. Each continent has its own flavour.”

 

The history of the Fausto coffee roastery

Things are quite simple at Fausto: the coffees are named for their countries of origin, e.g. “India” or “Peru”. There are now some 15 different varieties including blends such as the “Barista” espresso, “Giesing” and “Monaco”, which is made up of three different types of bean. In the early days Wildmoser purchased all of his beans from raw coffee traders, but he now buys 60 percent directly from the coffee farmers themselves or via a cooperative: “We have established long-standing relationships, built on trust, because you have to plan, order and pay years in advance.”

The larger the roastery, the more quickly it is able to bypass the coffee traders – which means more money for the farmers. Fausto also offers a handful of organic coffees, though they eschew the Fairtrade logo because many of the small coffee farmers they work with cannot afford the licence needed.

"Coffees from the African continent have a more pronounced acidity than those from Central America - each continent has its own taste."
Klaus Wildmoser

When Klaus Wildmoser started out roasting coffee, he was still studying food technology and business administration at Weihenstephan near Freising. He was a regular at the Zum Naschwerk bakery back then, which had an old roasting machine on the premises: “The owner said that if I could manage to make my coffee taste like Illy coffee, he’d buy it from me.” Wildmoser promptly taught himself to roast coffee, frequently visiting Tuscany to look over the shoulders of the Italian roasters as they worked. The first few kilos didn’t amount to anything, but pretty soon he was able to organise a blind tasting at Zum Naschwerk – and Fausto had its first customer.

Today Fausto employs 14 people, some of whom are responsible for packing and shipping the coffee. In fulfilling online shop orders for the last year, just the packages sent by DHL amount to 35,000. This afternoon two employees are working in the store café – as we chat, a customer approaches Wildmoser to praise the expertise of the staff. Barista trainings or latte art courses are offered here every Sunday. The clientele at Fausto is very mixed: two senior citizen friends chat over espressos at a corner table, while a young woman with a pram sits outside on the pretty terrace beside the Auer Mühlbach river.

Things to know about coffee in Munich

1. Café Luitpold on Wittelsbacherplatz is home to Munich's smallest museum – here everything revolves around coffee house culture.

2. From Dallmayr to Delmocca: there are around 24 coffee roasters in Munich today.

3. People in Munich roast their coffee darker, and because of its proximity to Italy they drink more espresso. In Hamburg and Berlin they drink more milk, the bean is roasted lighter like in Scandinavia.

4. A cappuccino costs an average of 3.27 euros in Munich.

5. A café guide to Munich was published as early as 1835, at that time with 40 coffee addresses in the city. 

6. Dallmayr has been around for over 300 years, but it became famous for its coffee, which has been in the range since the 1930s. 

Klaus Wildmoser discovered this amazing location via a rather wonderful circumstance: the owner of the Kraemer’sche Kunstmühle, a former flour mill, would often pop into the old shop, and one day he offered Wildmoser some space on his premises. These days Fausto, with its sustainable coffee approach, is clearly a perfect match for the eco-friendly building, which uses wooden pallets to fuel its heating system and is supplied with hydroelectric power generated from the adjacent river. The business has been here for ten years already and has no intention of moving. Wildmoser is often asked whether he would like to expand, but he always declines with thanks: “If we did, I would no longer be able to guarantee what we stand for!”

 

Other Munich coffee roasteries:

 

 

Text: Anja Schauberger; Photos: Frank Stolle

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