Berlin’s Coffee Shops

My daughter recently attended a music camp in Berlin with concerts every night of the week.  So, being proud parents, we decided to take a week of vacation and be there for every concert!  Why not, right?  Having a concert to attend every night meant that we needed to find something to do with our days, so I had an idea:  let’s visit at least one Third Wave coffee shop each day.  Rather than do an extensive explanation of what “Third Wave Coffee” is, I’ll reference Elizabeth Childer’s well written article, “Third Wave Coffee: A History.”  Read up, if you’re intrigued by this.

Berlin has some of the most popular coffee shops and roasters in all of Europe.  So, with brochure in hand, some recommendations from coffee aficionados, we began our “Third Wave Tour” of Berlin.  I decided that, if I’m going to compare the shops, I needed to try the same things in each.  That meant espresso and a flat white at each shop.  Just a note:  I’m presenting these in the order they were visited, and not in the order of preference.  I’d visit every one of these shops again.

Berlin Kaffeerösterei

Berlin KaffeeröstereiFirst stop was on Sunday, when my son and I stopped off at the Berlin Kaffeerösterei.  It was jam packed with people (a good sign).  It conveys a “step back in time” atmosphere that reminded me of a 1920’s coffee shop.  Not being a fan of coffee, my son ordered a huge chocolate shake (Eis-schokolade).  I ordered a shot of espresso and then a hand-filter coffee.  As my son devoured his drink, I assumed it was great.  My espresso was good.  I couldn’t quite place the roast.  It was a middle-of-the-road shot, nothing to write home about.  However, the hand filter was another story.  I really enjoyed the hand filter Brazilian.  It tasted natural, and left a lingering flavor in my mouth; well balanced and enjoyable.  And rather than brewing it for me, they brought the components to my table, instructed me on timing, amounts, etc. and let me brew it myself.  Being a coffee nerd, I almost enjoyed that aspect of it as much as the coffee itself.

The Kaffeerösterei has a speciality shop attached where you can view roastings, or pick up a HUGE variety of coffees, teas, and more.  They also offers a wide assortment of cakes and pies.  I had the lemon pie, which was delicious!  My only regret is that, my bent towards all things lemon took me to a bad pairing: Brazilian coffee and lemon pie.  Had I gone with something richer, like a rich chocolate cake, I think I would have been happier.  However, all in all, it was a great little shop.

The Barn

The Barn

Next up was The Barn, arguably Berlin’s most well known shop and roaster.  Had we arrived 10 minutes later, we wouldn’t have been able to stay.  There’s seating for around 15 people, and that’s IF you want to sit shoulder to shoulder with the people at the next table.  Rain and cold forced us inside, where we found a corner that was comfortable.  But I definitely didn’t get the vibe that you would come and stay for a while.

The shop is small, but the coffee is not!  The espresso shot was perfectly pulled.  It lingered.  Sporting a nice crema, it was heavy and smooth, earthy, buttery.  And the flat white presented the perfect balance of espresso and milk.  We also tried some of their baked goods; the custard tart.  They, too, tasted rich and complimented the espresso well.  Being The Barn, we had to buy a bag of beans!

They offer a vast assortment of beans that are sure to please every variety of coffee drinker.  We picked up a bag of the Mwembe, which I’ve already had three or four shots from.  A little slice of heaven:  fruity, bold, forces your mouth to water by a direct attack on the glands in your mouth… Mmmm.

No Fire No Glory

No Fire No Glory

Our third cafe was No Fire No Glory.  When we embarked on this journey of coffee tasting, we hadn’t even heard of this cafe.  Which is a tragedy because it was absolutely amazing!  Spacious, warm, inviting, we felt at home before we’d even ordered.  Offering an abundance of seating, both inside and out, we didn’t have to figure out where the three of us would fit.  The eclectic decor said, “Come, stay all day if you’d like.”

The espresso was a bit more earthy than that of The Barn.  It was pulled well, and had the tell-tale indicators that a well-trained barista was behind the bar.  It didn’t linger, but popped, eliciting an “ohhh yeah” response from my taste buds.  I enjoy it when I can taste the earthy notes of a shot, and this was a shot that I enjoyed.  The flat white was much stronger than usual.  At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d ordered extra shots or if it was just so.  But I found it very enjoyable to the point of thinking maybe I should order a flat white with an extra shot.  It may have just been the strength of the roast.  Either way, it was a great beverage.

Am Ende der Welt

Ende der WeltOn to our fourth stop, Am Ende Der Welt (at the end of the world).  And it was!  We traveled to the section of Berlin known as Wedding to visit this shop.  We almost walked right past it!  When we walked in, we were greeted by an urban-minimalist decor:  lights hanging by wires, “unfinished walls,” aged wooden floor.  My wife, an interior decorator type, loved it!  If the chairs had been more comfortable, she would have given it three thumbs up!

The coffee was great!  My shot of espresso was more to the fruity side, which is the way I like it, than our first shops.  Again, expertly pulled, it was greasy (and that’s a good thing) and coated my tongue and mouth.  It was smooth and a hint towards the sweet side.  The flat white was also good, with the difference from the others being the espresso.

My wife ordered a chocolate croissant, and with the first bite, said, “Ooo, now THAT’S good!”  Which, at the time of day we arrived, was surprising!  Usually, later afternoon pastries taste like, well, late afternoon pastries.  But this was fluffy, warm, buttery, like a whole stick of butter was used in each croissant (again, to me, a good thing!).

Buena Vida Coffee Club

Buena VidaThe last stop on our tour was Buena Vida Coffee Club, which is actually in Potsdam.  Buena Vida was not in our brochure.  I had posted in our FaceBook group “Third Wave Wichteln” that I was going to be making a tour of coffee shops, and asked if there were any that weren’t in the brochure that I should visit.  A guy in the group recommended Buena Vida.  But, being in Potsdam (outside Berlin), I had written it off as “too far.”  Some friends suggested giving it a try because Potsdam is a beautiful city worth seeing, so we added it to our list.  I am so glad we did!  It was the greatest surprise of our tour.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the guy in FaceBook that recommended it was, in fact, the owner, Patrick Berger.  The shop had plenty of seating when we arrived.  However, being centrally located in the shopping/touristy district of Potsdam, it quickly filled up and was buzzing with activity.  This was another shop that communicated a warm “come and stay” atmosphere.

We didn’t order food at this shop, but went straight into the coffee.  My flat white was just the way I like it:  bold, robust.  When put to the sniffing test, I could taste the roast as it lingered between mouth and nose.  It was an Ethiopian espresso with that dark and seductive Africa flavor.  I decided to order a Syphon Coffee instead of espresso for two reasons:  first and foremost, so my 14 year old son could watch the process; and second to see the master in action!  The only draw back was that, had Patrick not been there, I would have had to pass on it since the other baristas don’t know how to work the syphon.  Kudos to them, though, to say, “Sorry, we don’t know how.” rather than serving something sub-par out of inexperience!  Fortunately for me, Patrick was in the house, and served up a Kenyan Syphon coffee that blew my socks off.  With the first sniff I could tell that it had been mixed to the gram perfectly.  After the first sip, I looked at Caryn and said, “I can taste vegetables.”  She laughed at me since I hate, HATE vegetables, but this was something different.  As I let the sip roll around in my mouth, I tasted the earthy, almost sweet pea flavor of this african coffee.  It was light, pleasant, and not overpoweringly earthy.  Needless to say, Buena Vida in and of itself is worth the visit to Potsdam!  We will be back!

All in all, we enjoyed every one of these shops.  We felt like we were touring living art exhibits, where the baristas were performing and creating for us.  Thank you for your art and dedication to excellence.

Going Forth

“Go forth from your country…” -Genesis 12

We are experiencing a little of what Abraham must have felt as God uprooted him from all he knew and sent him to a land of strangers. If you haven’t heard yet, The Bishop family now resides in Hamburg, Germany, where we are hoping to make strides for the kingdom.

I still remember my first trip over seas. It was to Kenya. I was 31. I’m not as old as Abraham was, but older none the less. Right now, I’m sitting in a London airport and thinking through what God is doing with our family. I see my kids sitting next to me and can’t help but think about how different life would have been for me if I’d engaged in God’s work at their age. Now 11 and 9, these two have sensed God’s call on them to the nations, and have pursued it on 3 continents. Considering all they’ve left behind, I wonder how it must be for them! They truly are leaving behind everything they know for the sake of the call, living as “sent-out ones.”

One of the things we’ve tried to do through this whole process is to nurture that sense of obedience in them. For some families, the kids are a part of the calling by virtue of having to go where their parents go. But we made this a family decision, asking them to express what they felt God was telling them, and giving them a say in this. My hope is that, through out their lives, they would pursue God’s calling for them, no matter the cost. And I pray daily that it could be said of each of us what was said of Abraham in Genesis 25:8, “Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life.”

Can you find satisfaction in knowing you did what God called you to do and let that be enough?


Back in September, I wrote about Jeremiah’s first attempt at his Black Belt. You can read about that here:

But tonight, 7 months later, he accomplished a goal he set out for over 4 years ago. It was a much different thing to see him work hard, and work toward this. Sometimes, when things get tough, people measure whether it’s really worth the effort. And MANY times, people walk away from hard things. But not Jeremiah. He put in the work, invested himself in teaching many of our White, Orange, and Yellow belts (and many of those 1 on 1), and never gave up.

Tonight, Jeremiah didn’t just accomplish passing a test, he proved what I knew all along. Even though he’s just nine, he’s a man of character. I’m proud to call him “son.”

Toby Wimberley Update Page

Toby Wimberley, a dear friend and long time member of The Heights Fellowship, was in a serious motorcycle accident with an 18-wheeler Monday afternoon. He was immediately rushed to University Medical Center with several broken ribs, a broken patella, a perforated intestine, and a severed artery, severely bleeding internally. He was immediately rushed into emergency surgery to stop the bleeding and begin repairing his injured organs, but was bleeding so severely he began to become unstable. They stopped the surgery after repairing the severed artery and he slowly began to stabilize.

Tuesday 9-22-09

Over night, his heart rate and fever were both elevated enough prevent the surgeons from continuing the surgery on Tuesday morning. To better understand the enzyme levels and performance of his heart they implanted a monitor into his heart so they could better evaluate the next procedure. As the day continued his fever and his heart rate slowly began dropping and the surgeons took him back into surgery just after 2:00 P.M.

4:30 p.m.
Toby came out of surgery at 4:30 P.M. with a great report from his doctor. They finished up the surgery they started yesterday, checked his colon, and repaired minor damage to his spleen. Now we wait until Friday when they plan to close him up and repair his pelvis.

8:00 p.m.
Just got to see Toby. The nurse said he is in Critical but stable condition. His blood pressure is good. He has an elevated heart rate, but it has been consistent all day, so they are pleased with it. Toby is still intubated and sedated, but his color is back and he’s doing well. The way the nurse put it is He’s not out of the woods yet, but we can see the edge of the trees. Keep praying. Later I will recount the story we heard from a nurse on all of the divine appointments that happened to keep Toby with us!

11:59 p.m.
At midnight, the nurse said Toby’s heart rate has dropped back down to a better level and his vitals are still looking good. Recovery from his first surgery is going well and they plan to go into surgery to repair his pelvis on Friday. I gave him a 5 minute pep talk and prayed over him, as I know many of you are praying too. Keep it up!

Wednesday 09-23-09

8:00 a.m.
After checking on Toby several times by phone last night, we found out his heart rate is good and vitals are stable. He’s still listed as critical, but he’s been stable for 15 hours! We are almost through the 1st 48 hours, which the docs had said would be the most critical time frame.

8:00 p.m.
They were able to take Toby off of his ventilator this morning and he is breathing on his own. His vitals are still at very good levels and he is very responsive. Surgery is still planned for Friday to work on his pelvis and close his abdomen

9:30 p.m.
Toby has had a myriad of visitors this evening. He’s looking a lot better. In addition to his stats being well, his color is good, and he is responding to people coming in to see him. They are putting him back on the ventilator for the night since he is so tired. We’ll update again in the morning. Thanks for all the prayers. Keep it up

Thursday 09-24-09

2:30 a.m.
Just checked in on Toby, and his nurse said they have his blood pressure down and his heart rate under 120! That’s great news. In the words of his nurse, “Toby keeps trucking along!” I know his family is very grateful for all that has been done for them, and all the support shown during this tough time. Thank you.

8:45 a.m.
They just came out and let us know that they have moved Toby’s pelvic surgery and the closing of his abdomen to RIGHT NOW! The surgeon has already come out and they are ready to roll him back. This is the next big step that Toby’s taking early. Seems like he does everything early! I’ll post back here when they let us know how it went.

3:45 p.m.
Toby came out of surgery well. They fixed his pelvis, and seem hopeful to fix his knee cap. They also performed an appendectomy while they were in there. Everything seems to be healing quite nicely. The other news is that the skin and muscles over his stomach are not going to be able to be closed at this time. They are going to keep him “vacuum packed” for the next 2 weeks while they try to skin graft and mesh wire his outside closed. They will be doing skin grafts over the mesh to try and eventually get him “closed” back up. He will be here at least 2 more weeks, and he is still listed in critical condition. KEEP PRAYING!

Friday 09-25-09

8:00 a.m.
Toby had a steady night last night. No real news or changes. The plan for today is to begin to wake him up from the pain meds and take his breathing tube out. His blood pressure is a little elevated, but his pulse is good.

11:30 a.m.
The staff decided to try to move Toby around and get him ready to be extubated. He didn’t like that too much, so he’s back on the ventilator. They have decided his “fussy” reaction to their work was because he isn’t awake enough to not fight them. So, they are working him off of his meds to try to get him awake and they will try again. Keep praying.

9:00 p.m.
Toby is semi-alert/semi-awake. I was able to talk to him a little bit. They decided to re-sedate him for the night since they won’t extubate him until tomorrow. Good news is that they are planning to take the tube out. The bad news is that it’s pretty painful for him. In typical Toby fashion, I walked in to find him “fighting” with the nurse. The nurse was trying to get him to relax his arm and Toby didn’t want him messing with it. I walk in and hear, “I know you’re awake, Toby. I know you can hear me and are just being ornery!” I had to laugh! Since we’re not expecting any changes, this will be the last update for today. Keep praying and keep sending those letters of encouragement. Shelby’s reading them.

Saturday 09-26-09

8:30 a.m.
Toby has passed all the respiratory tests, so they have extubated him. He is greatly agitated right now, so we haven’t been back to see him yet this morning. It was an up and down night with his heart rate and blood pressure. Usually the morning visitation comes along with a briefing from his overnight activity, so I should have more to post soon.

10:15 a.m.
They had to reintubate Toby. Apparently he started fighting pain and being aware of where he is and became agitated. His blood pressure and heart rate became too high so they put him back on the tube and back on the vent/CPAP. Almost immediately, after they put the tube back in, all of his vitals came back to the good range, so they are going to try again tomorrow.

8:30 p.m.
Toby has spent most of the day sedated again. He’s had a rough day. Nothing life threatening, but tough nonetheless. They have been feeding him through a tube, and his body seems to be processing the way that it should. So, we will pray for a restful night for him so that his procedure goes well tomorrow. He will have his abdomen repacked and evaluated for closing tomorrow. Monday’s schedule includes his knee rebuild, so we’re praying for strength and healing for him.

Sunday 9-27-09

7:00 p.m.
Toby has had a very restful day. He underwent a procedure this morning to repack and reevaluate his abdomen for closing now that his organs have had a few days for the swelling to decrease. The procedure went very well, however, they still were not able to close him up because his muscles have retracted some. After their evaluation, they still plan to do a skin graft over the next few weeks. He has been very relaxed and has rested peacefully for the day with good vital signs. They plan to work on his knee tomorrow.

Monday 09-28-09

8:00 a.m.
Toby had some fever last night. The good news is his heart rate and blood pressure are really good. He’s been fighting fever for a while, but that’s nothing new. The fever has been a recurring thing. They have not yet taken him back for knee surgery, but that’s on the schedule for today. I’ll update when he comes out of surgery.

11:30 a.m.
Toby came out of surgery a few minutes ago. The surgeon was pleased with the operation, and says the knee is rebuilt. They had to do some drilling so that it would stimulate blood flow. At some point today we should hear what is coming up next.

The Fragile Nature of Life

I got a text yesterday during staff meeting from Shelby saying Toby had been in a motorcycle accident. Toby is one of my closest friends. You may have seen him in our “Wild Hogs” pictures. Toby’s that guy that can fix anything, and is always the first to show up and help with something.
The text said Toby had been in an accident, and has some broken ribs and a broken knee. So, we bailed on staff meeting and headed that way, expecting to find a bruised and sore Toby.

Got to the ER, and Shelby hadn’t been able to see Toby yet, so we camped in the ER waiting room eagerly awaiting a report on my surely road-rashed friend. That’s when we found out that they had to rush Toby into emergency surgery upon discovering a building amount of fluid in his stomach. Turns out he had severed an artery in his abdomen, and nearly bled to death internally. Upon further examination, his knee cap is shattered, pelvis broken, internal organs (intestines, possibly colon) had perforated, and multiple ribs broken. His status went from banged up to critical in a matter of minutes. After 5 hours of surgery, they had to close him up because his vital signs became unstable. They still have work to do on his organs, pelvis, and knee cap.

The thing about Toby is that he is, by nature, a fighter. He doesn’t accept the fact that an obstacle can block your path. This man doesn’t take “No” for an answer. I’m honestly surprised that he doesn’t have a clause in his files stating that he gets to assist on any repairs done to himself. We were joking with him last night about having his hands restrained in order to keep him from fixing himself.

It’s been a rough night but Toby is fighting. The SICU doctor told Shelby that the next 24 – 48 hours would be crucial, so we’re almost halfway done with that. Please be praying. I know Toby would tell us to go on with the stuff that needs to get done and not to worry about him. But I am asking you to spend a significant amount of time in prayer for him today. Toby is that guy that literally is there for anyone and everyone. The most generous man I know, he embodies the Christian spirit of service and sacrifice. Join me in praying Toby out of danger and onto recovery.

A Broken Little Heart

I have had a pretty crummy day. Nothing really bad happened. But I had to tell my little warrior that he didn’t achieve his Black Belt today. It has weighed heavily on me all day, kinda overshadowing what was otherwise a pretty decent day. As the day winds to an end, I know that I will always remember walking into the room where Jeremiah was getting his gear together and breaking it to him that he didn’t make it. It was SO STINKING HARD to look him in the eye and tell him the news.

However, in a society where kids are told they never fail, where child athletes are told “everyone wins,” a valuable lesson was learned today; for Jeremiah and myself.

First, Jeremiah told me through the tears that he knew he hadn’t performed at an expert level. He knew he hadn’t done well, but he had hoped it was enough. We were able to have a REALLY good talk about what it means to be a Black Belt, and how it’s so much more than just knowing the material. There is a proficiency level that accompanies the knowledge. The Black Belt test isn’t like other belt tests. Other belt tests tend to be more “pass/fail” tests. But the Black Belt test is more of an assessment of the students abilities to determine if they are an expert in their art. For instance, a student seeking to advance from orange belt to yellow belt needs to show a proficiency commensurate with that belt, seeking to show their progression. The Black Belt, however, must demonstrate that he/she has mastered all of the materials for all of the belts and is able to teach, model, and instruct. Where as the potential orange belt may progress with a score of 70%, the student seeking his/her Black Belt must perform around 90%. In our conversations today, Jeremiah conveyed he felt like he’d failed. As we talked it through, however, he discovered that he passed the test, just not at the level he needed to. While heart broken about it, it served to remind him of his responsibility to the Belt and to motivate him to be that much better when he tests again in a month.

Second, I learned that sometimes heartbreak moves us to excellence. As much as I hated to tell him that he hadn’t gotten his Belt, and as deeply hurt as he was, I was able to walk through it with him and share a life moment with my son. Life is going to be full of these moments. As a dad, I HATE when my kids are hurting, and do everything I can to protect them from hurt. But not only is that impossible, but it’s not healthy for my children. Hard times will come. There will be greater disappointments in life than not receiving his Black Belt. The greater lesson is learning how to handle set backs. How I coach him through disappointment will be a lesson he will carry into life. If I divert the disappointment, what does he gain? At best, he gains a belt he didn’t earn. At worst, he learns that he doesn’t have to face failure. The reality check for me today was to hurt with him, hurt for him, and understand that this makes him not just a better Martial Artist, but a better person.

Third, and you knew it was coming if you know me, there is a spiritual application. “The Lord is near the broken-hearted.” Psalm 34:18 Perhaps we spend too much time trying to be comfortable and successful and miss a major way that God makes His presence known to us. As a parent, do I rob my children of an opportunity to deepen their faith by shielding them too much? Even as I write this, the Daddy in me is screaming, “How could I ever let my kids suffer? There’s no such thing as protecting them too much! They are MY kids!” But I don’t think that’s it. I think that the place I landed today is that failure is a part of life and failure is a means of deepening our faith. Today I was able to hold my little boy, encourage and connect with him in a meaningful way, and point him to never giving up. And maybe, just maybe, he will find the same comfort and counsel in God’s arms when the failure is much greater.

Just in case you read this, Buddy, I love you and am proud of you. I know that you will take today and build from it. Keep your chin up, your eyes bright, and get done what needs to get done. And, most of all, remember that God is nearer to you than you can know.

And I also need to say “Thank You” to Master Jason for shooting straight with Jeremiah. It would have been easy to say, “Close Enough.” But that wouldn’t have been right nor what’s best for Jeremiah. I know it was tough, but you did the right thing, and I appreciate that. I whole heartedly believe that Jeremiah will more deeply appreciate his ability when he reaches his next goal because of today.