When Łukasz interviewed the owner of Cophi Solutions in Warsaw, he wasn’t to know that soon he would be on the other side of the table, being interviewed by the same boss for a job.
At the time, he was a roving reporter, wandering Europe collecting info for an online guide to coffee shops. A long way away from his degree in biotechnology, but as soon as he graduated, he knew the life a lab rat wasn’t for him. He needed to work with people and with something he could see, feel, and even better, taste.
One look at the Cophi Solutions website and you can see why Łukasz loves working there. Like him, it positively radiates fun and coffee love. Originally builders of bars and restaurants, the business now covers all things coffee related. Coffee shops, coffee beans, tea, accessories, gadgets... And brilliant barista socks sporting rainbows and aero presses. As Łukasz explains, “Most places have their own dress code or uniform. But nobody can tell a barista what to wear on their feet! So it’s one way they can freely express their personality.”
Supplied by a local factory, the socks are coloured with organic eco-friendly dyes and, like Cophi Solutions coffee, the cotton they’re made of is fully traceable. Just one of the neighbourhood initiatives that’s so endeared the company to their community. Another is the ‘Crowned’ range of coffee with pack designs featuring regular customers; local women who’ve battled against the odds to achieve something amazing. It’s all very much from the heart, just as it should be.
He’s immensely proud of the fact that throughout the pandemic, his company didn’t shut down for a single day. Even though only one of their six cafes stayed open, not one employee has lost their job, and nobody caught the virus. “We served from behind closed doors, taking orders via walky-talkies. We used gloves and disinfectant right from the start. Coffee wasn’t officially designated an essential item, but we knew how absolutely essential it was to our customers. That cup of coffee was a moment of normality, a brief encounter with another human, a beacon of light on a dark day.”
With a caring, sharing mindset like that, Łukasz was more than happy to get involved with Alpro and become one of their ambassadors for plant-based. It makes him very happy to see lactose avoiding customers switch from dairy to naturally lactose free plant-based in their brews and everyone else just enjoying the taste. His own ‘daily drive’ is now an oat based flat white. It’s even become one of his benchmark brews when he’s testing any new espresso grind or roast. And in the afternoon, it’s a mellow matcha latte, maybe with almond or coconut.
He loves workshopping, introducing people to plant-based and opening them up to all the flavour possibilities on offer. And maybe the biotechnology is coming in handy after all. “Good coffee is really just simple science,” he says. He uses his knowledge of sensory perception to explain how an Ethiopian coffee blended with soya tastes just like a mango smoothie, for example!
If the rules allowed, Łukasz would be off exploring the world again in search of new tastes and fresh ideas. Instead, he’s launched his own brand of coffee, a complex Mandela from Colombia normally only tasted in competitions. It’s now flying off his shelves to Sweden, Norway, Austria, Russia and beyond. “I may not be able to travel right now,” he mourns, “but my coffee can!”. And he’d love to visit a coffee plantation, something he’s never done. “But it would have to be somewhere that has no huge spiders, and so many coffee-growing countries do!”
"The best cold brew for this would be from low acidity beans like Costa Rica, Salvador, Nicaragua or from naturally processed Ethiopia."
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