Camping + Coffee

Camping out always requires simplification. We eat from one pot, sleep in one shared space, leave behind the ease of our technified normal. 

Of course some things come with us, and are often improved by our increased attention and lack of distraction. Everything tastes better, for one thing.

In any case, our coffee ritual is always simple: Measure. Grind. Boil. Pour. Sit. Sip. 

Watch the world waken.

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Introducing: Cogito Coffee / One plus Two

For some time now we have been looking at how we can expand our efforts to bring great coffee to the streets of Zagreb and Croatia. Since the response to our shops in Zagreb has been enthusiastic and consistent, we have decided to go ahead and open not one, not two, but three new Cogito Coffee shops in 2017.

Therefore, one plus two refers to our opening of new Cogito Coffee shops in Zagreb, Zadar, and Dubrovnik. We are particularly excited to be part of the lively summer season on the beautiful Croatian coast. There, along with our usual menu, we will be introducing our signature cold brew coffee and iced teas, and a short but bombastic cocktail list (shout out to all of our bartending friends for giving us a helping hand).

The model of the shops is in line with what we have been doing so far: creating intimate service-oriented spaces that focus on preparing and serving tasty tea and coffee. We hope to have all three shops up and running by summer 2017.

See you in the sunshine!

Enjoying the sunshine along the riva in Zadar.

Enjoying the sunshine along the riva in Zadar.

A bird's eye view of Dubrovnik's old town, where one of our new shops will be located.

A bird's eye view of Dubrovnik's old town, where one of our new shops will be located.

2. Zagreb Latte Art Throwdown

The 2. Zagreb Latte Art Throwdown is hosted by Lively Roasters Co. on the 5th of November. I would definitely encourage you to stop by, it should be fun!

The first latte art throwdown was organized by us (Cogito Coffee) and 42 Coffee Company. There were three qualifying stages held at three locations: 42 Coffee Company, Cafe U Dvorištu, and Express bar. The finals were held in our then-newly opened Cogito Coffee shop in downtown Zagreb. The winner of the event was Oliver Oljica, and as a prize we sent him to Sweden during the 2015 world latte art championship.

Latte art throwdowns are informal competitions, the purpose of which is to get people together and hopefully to have a fun time. It is one of the ways that we open up our coffee community to the public, showcase our skill, and demonstrate our passion. When we organized the first throwdown I was surprised by the talent and diversity of the competitors. The fact is that nowadays both your average neighborhood coffee shop and your hip specialty coffee shop will have at least one thing in common: they both draw nice latte art.

The other thing that strikes me is how many people come to watch latte art throwdowns. Latte art is appealing because it showcases a basic skill - the purpose and effect of which is easily appreciated. There is no explaining needed: you pull out a shape and you draw it.

At times this has been a source of frustration for baristas and coffee roasters. Sometimes we feel like people judge the quality of the cup by the quality of the drawing. This has led some of the most prominent baristas in the world to refuse to do latte art, labeling it a distraction. Matt Perger, one of Australia's best-known baristas, made the argument that latte art may actually make the cup taste worst. The reasoning is simple enough – in order to get that strong contrast of colors in the drawing we push the espresso crema to the top of the cup, and since the crema is mostly made up of CO2 it gives out more bitter, dry, and potentially astringent flavors, thereby making the cup less sweet and balanced.

The fact is that it is easier to sell an expensive cup of coffee with latte art than without it. The beauty of a tulip or rosette topping a flat white tells the average customer that the cup was made with care. Lattes exhibit a consistence of skill and attention, which affirms the customer's expectations. On the other hand, it is certainly true that great latte art does not promise a great cup of coffee and that our admiration of the drawing can distract us from paying attention to the taste.

I do not think that the point here is to get rid of latte art -- we can still do nice art and use these skills to promote great coffee, while not limiting the whole coffee experience to visual aesthetics. For me the question of latte art is related to an overarching issue I have with the specialty coffee industry: the role of aesthetics as a dominating force in defining, communicating, and promoting coffee culture. I will dedicate the next couple of posts to this question. For now, go and enjoy the latte art contest and have some great coffee while you're at it.

Times are a changing

Six years ago, when we first opened Cafe u Dvorištu, the Croatian coffee market was homogeneous, conservative, and frankly boring. Looking back I realized that most of what we did at that time was based on a substantial fear of extinction. In order to stay afloat and to avoid confronting the terrible facts of our insignificance in the market, specialty coffee roasters, cafes, and restaurants adopted the idea of separation and refusal to participate. We created walls around us, isolating ourselves from each other and the world that surrounds us. We created ideologies based on the notion that what we do is ''the right way'' but that we are doomed to be misunderstood.

Looking at the situation now, the Croatian coffee market is definitely changing. In Zagreb alone there are now three major specialized coffee brands (Elis Caffe & Roastery, Lively Roasters Co., and Cogito Coffee Roasters), as well as coffee shops like Express Bar (serving Squaremile coffee), 42 Coffee Company (advertising their own unique coffee blends), and many others. Shops and restaurants are employing coffee consultants from places like Berlin and London. In Šibenik Caffe bar Giro is now buying their own green beans and using the service of a local roasting company, Caffe bar Bueno in Mali Lošinj is roasting their own, and 4Coffee Soul Food in Split has made remarkable strides in affecting the local coffee culture. All of this amounts to a significant diversification in the market: of interests, attitudes, and desires. As a result we are getting a wider and more excited response from the general public.

I am not saying that these changes are something to boast about or to be taken for granted. All I am saying is that this growth cannot be ignored. It seems to me that the diversification of the local coffee market is also creating a general confusion. In this respect the trauma of our beginnings has perhaps radicalized us into acts of further separation. Even though there are more of us I see that we continue to be afraid of our potential insignificance. Here I see two possible consequences: we will never create an unified specialty coffee market, therefore continuing to look eccentric, isolated and small; and consequently what we do manage to create will be subsumed by larger more self-confident coffee brands. The positive effect at this point of change is that there are more voices in the coffee story and therefore more people get to hear our versions of it. The luck in the face of it all is that at this point our general customers are not completely aware of our insecurities. This does not mean that we should underestimate their intelligence or the fact that they will demand a more stable, consistent, and authentic coffee market. I think that they will stick with us only when we mature. That is, when we are able to affirm ourselves and not at the same time exclude others. In the end – for better or worst – a bad coffee culture will hurt us more than a bad cup of coffee.

1st post!

Hey everyone!

We are so excited to finally get our blog going. Hopefully you will find it interesting, educational, and to be a great way to stay up to date with what is going on with Cogito Coffee.

To get things going here is a video we did last week for a press conference at Bio&Bio stores here in Zagreb...

Enjoy!

Blog coming soon!

Check back soon for a new post from the Cogito Blog.

In the meantime, get your daily fix on Instagram @cogitocoffeeroasters