Interview by Mel Winter
Bocca recently won the Allegra European Coffee Award for Best Artisan Roaster.
How did Bocca Coffee Roasters start?
14 years ago, Menno Simons, started roasting his first badges of coffee on a small roaster in his garage in the Jordaan, a neighbourhood in the centre of Amsterdam. At that time he was working for a company which brought him to Ethiopia very often. Curious as he is, he took some green beans back home, bought a small roaster and started to test the quality of the beans. He was surprised by the fact that this coffee from Ethiopia tasted so much better than he could get in whole Amsterdam! That was the moment he started his own business in coffee.
In 2001 exactly, he started Bocca Coffee Roasters together with his brother Tewis. The goal, to let people in Holland taste the beauty of coffee from all over the world. A couple of years later Menno started another company, Trabocca, a green coffee trader working with coffees mainly from Ethiopia. Of course Bocca buys their coffees directly at Trabocca. At this moment Trabocca is worldwide known for its excellent Ethiopian coffees. Working close together with the farmers, educating, giving pre-finances and working together to produce the best specialty coffee they can. Right now, the greatest roasters and espressobars all around the world work with coffee from Menno.
In the meantime Bocca moved to a bigger place, the brothers learned a lot about coffee along the road and the business was growing solid. Right now we have 14 people staff, we just rebuilt the roastery and we are busy to fulfill a dream, our own concept store.
What is your role at Bocca?
They call me 'quality manager', but barista still sounds really good to me! I am doing the green buying, mostly at Trabocca, together with Tewis. After roasting it is my turn to test, taste and evaluate the coffees. Checking if we can make things better. Besides that, I sometimes do trainings or advice our clients.
What do you think sets Bocca apart or makes it unique?
Of course the relationship with a company as Trabocca
is unique. The thing that we do different from other specialty coffee roasters is the diversity of coffees we offer. We always have at least 10 coffees to choose from at the same time. We really want to give people the opportunity to taste everything that coffee can bring you.
What is your favourite bean at the moment?
That is with no doubt the washed Ethiopia Lekempti from Negosho! I never scored a coffee that good on a cupping table. Notes of lemongrass, lots of florals, really delicate and perfectly balanced.
Will you compete in the Barista competition again?
I am not sure Mel! I joined the nationals three times now and had the opportunity to go to the World Barista Championship (WBC) two times. The experiences were great! Now I am focusing on judging, I always wanted to be a technical judge. Coming January I judge my first finals at the Dutch Barista Championship and I hope to make progress so I can join the WBC once more, as a judge.