Coffee Gangnam Style


Imagine a place that has such a large number of coffee places that its' government is considering to implement laws and regulations for a minimum distance between each of them.

Imagine a place where a takeaway cup from a specific coffee place counts as a status symbol.

Welcome to South Korea.

South Korea was one of the last cultures to get accustomed to coffee as we know it. The first time coffee was registered in South Korea was in 1895. Antoinette Sonntag, the German sister-in-law of the Russian Ambassador, served a brewed coffee to King Gojong during his visit. Apparently, he was so amazed by her filter coffee that he initiated the opening of the first coffee bar in the heart of Seoul.

His expectations did not match his people though. South Korea was a tea-loving country at the time, and quite warily before trying new specialties. Therefore this coffee bar had to close its doors shortly after.

What followed was a long dry period in terms of coffee. If there was coffee at all, it was for tourists or foreign military that was stationed in South Korea. Coffee was almost irrelevant for the Koreans. This only changed with the first opening of a Starbucks in 1999. This was the initiation of one of the most impressive coffee conquests any country ever witnessed.


Every Korean has consumed 500 cups of coffee on average 2016.

In the last 20 years the annual consumption of coffee has reached an amount of 657,000 tons per year. In other words: Every Korean has consumed 500 cups of Coffee on average in year 2016. This surreal development shows again that coffee can have a societal power that goes beyond only being a caffeinated drink. It has become a major side effect when you regard the political development in the country. The pro-western attitude is being reflected in the huge increase of Starbucks shops all over the country, but especially in Seoul.

Also, and more interestingly, latte art is being used to express political opinions. For a long time, it was a famous phenomenon to draw the profile of Kim Jong-Un on different types of coffee.

In case you did not expect all this, you might have listened better in the past. Remember South Koreas most famous music export Psy? In his Mega-Hit “Gangnam Style” from 2011 he already glorifies Coffee, claiming he is being a real Man because he drinks a cup of coffee in one gulp, and mentioning that a lady with class knows how to enjoy her coffee. Word!

Påtår ingår – It`s All You Can Drink

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The World Cup 2018 in Russia is continuing and the next team Germany will have to face is the Swedish Blagult. Luckily for my Blog, it is another country that makes one of the most coffee consuming countries globally. In Fact, Sweden is only surpassed by Finland and the Netherlands in terms of quantity.

As Sweden is no Coffee Producing country due to its climate, they rely on importing Coffee since 1685. Since then, they have continuously developed a coffee culture that is very unique. In the 18th Century Stockholm was already crowded with more than 50 coffee places that took quite an important role in the Swedish society. In the Swedish Language there is a word that describes this impact: Fika. Literally, Fika means Coffee Break in English. But to the people it means much more. Fika is an essential part of daily life. Even more, it is the part of the day that makes it worthwile. Fika can have different forms. On one hand it can be a simple coffee break during work or an excessive chat with friends. But on the other hand it can be an informal meeting at work that is scheduled on a weekly basis. It is a social institution in Sweden and as such being protected by the people – they just expect you to join, no matter how busy you might be. Therefore, a main motto of Fika is Patar Ingar, which means as much as second helping. Drink as much as you want, there is no limit during Fika.

The most favoured coffee in Sweden is black and very dark with as little sourness as possible. Pure, drip coffee. In many Swedish households you will find a percolator. This, for us Germans quite old-fashioned, form of coffee brewing is quite beneficial for the Swedish drinking preferences. In a perculator the boiling water is being pressed towards a glass cover on top of the pot, and flows back into a can with the coffee powder. From there on, it can drip as coffee back into the can. This brewing method has two main advantages. It gives you the choice on how strong you want to have your coffee, and it makes brewing more effective, so you spend less coffee powder. Of course, due to the global influence, other brewing methods such as aeropress or the French press have made their path into Swedish Households.

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After all, it is not the brewing method that makes you drink coffee like the Swedish, it is rather the attitude while enjoying coffee. Fika is about having a great time. Therefore, not only Coffee is part of Fika, but also the famous Swedish Sweets, such as Kanelbulle or Kladdkaka, and you should definitely not miss any of those !

“¿Puede darme un café, por favor?”


Café de Olla.

It is strongly connected to Mexican history and lifestyle.

When it comes to Mexico most of us instantly think about burritos, tequila and temperamental Latin vibes. Others remember the great ancient cultures that have originated in Mexico and the beautiful landscapes. However, of all Latin-American Countries, Mexico might be the least associated with Coffee.

But let’s have a look at the facts: Even though the first coffee beans have been cultivated rather early in the 18th century it took quite a while until coffee became popular among the Mexican population. There´s a quite simple reason for this: Mexicans did not care about coffee. They had a long-lasted tradition of other plants and resources. Of course this has changed drastically by the time. Nowadays, Mexico is one of the most important countries worldwide when it comes to coffee growing and one of the most interesting countries when it comes to coffee consumption.

On the one hand, Mexico is one of the major countries when it comes to coffee plantations. It is known for very high-quality Arabica beans, which are supposedly less sour but much stronger than many other beans. Most famous might be the Maragogipe, also known as the Elephant Bean.

Let´s have a look at how Mexicans drink coffee first. Basically, it is coffee that is brewed with cinnamon, vanilla and a generous addition of cane sugar -  Café de Olla. It is strongly connected to Mexican history and lifestyle. During the Mexican revolution, Café de Olla was regularly prepared for the soldiers by their so-called soldaderas, so they would stay energized throughout the day. It is also known for being Mario Zapata´s favorite kind of coffee. As he is an important figure in the indigenous history, Mexicans wouldn´t let anything negative come to their Café de Olla. Until today, it is a main offer in the highly sophisticated third wave coffee places in Mexico City and the other major cities. Also, when you go to the US, especially the Westcoast, you´ll find excellent baristas among the huge Hispanic Community who would love to serve this type of coffee.


Funnily, there is another side to Mexican Coffee-Drinking habits. Mexico is the country with the highest per-head consumption of Nescafe.  But this should be only a side-fact.

Coffee is Culture

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Today´s world is full of coffee, it is omnipresent. We see it, smell it and drink it at home, at work, on the way and to relax. The different variations of drinking and serving coffee are impossible to count, and everyone who feels attached to this brewed drink has his own habits and preferences. Coffee has a fascination on people that can hardly be compared to any other beverage.

The history of the coffee bean itself is quickly explained. Legend says, an Ethiopian goatherd noticed a certain energy on his animals after they have been eating from specific bushes. He was fascinated by the impact and started experimenting. Later on, he teamed up with a monk, and together they developed the process of drying and boiling the beans to create a beverage. That was the first cup of Coffee anyone ever had. Probably one of the worst as well, but it was a start.

Quite quickly the coffee plant made its way to conquer the world. Through the mountains of Yemen, where the first plants were seeded, the coffee plant was cultivated on all continents within a period of less than 200 years. The use and effect of caffeinated beverages made it very attractive to all kinds of people.

It was the invention of the coffeehouse, that brought the societal impact to life. The first coffeehouse were opened in the early 16th century in my family’s hometown, Damascus, in the Ottoman Empire, followed by other coffee houses in Cairo, Aleppo and Istanbul. They became a place of gathering and joy after hard days of work, as well as a place for political engagement exchanging news. For the leaders of the ottoman empire, this was an explosive mixture, as it was people from all kinds of societal background who met in these coffee places and started bundling their engagement. Suddenly, the phrase of “having a cup of coffee” got a subliminal meaning and described a certain political and social attitude.

Shortly after, in the 17th century coffeehouse made their way into Europe. After the first opening in Venice and Oxford, London became the capital of coffeehouses quite quickly. Same as in the major Ottoman Cities, the London Coffeehouses became gathering places for public debates. This social importance of coffee places led the foundation for today´s appearance of cafés all over the world and also Lulu’s Coffee when we started. We acknowledge that coffee houses are a fundamental part of every city worldwide. Though every place has its own unique history they all share common characteristics. Coffeehouses are attached to a people’s lifestyle. They are place of retreat and relaxed atmosphere. They offer the perfect spot for working and having chats and elaborate discussions. It is not for nothing, that the term Coffee Break is commonly known and brings relief whenever you hear.

Kaldi and the dancing goats.

Kaldi and the dancing goats.

The Ethiopian farmer? He has given name to the biggest Coffee Chain in Ethiopia: Kaldi´s Coffee.

Call out my Name

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Hi, I am Omar, and I am a Barista. 

Who is this guy, and why does he start blogging all of a sudden?  

Turning words and emotions into words is quite a challenge, especially when explain an idea and a vision. But let me try and tell you more about how we started and where we are going with Lulu's Coffee & Co: the initial vision behind Lulu's was to introduce specialty coffee, create a place for creative people to meet, connect and reach towards larger goals from a small common denominator - all in and from our hometown, Aachen, Germany. My two well-travelled brothers (and their better halves) shaped the idea in form of the place and brand and together brought it to fruition in less than three months, eventually opening our first outlet in May 2016.  

I official became a barista only a year later in the process (thanks to Adnan and Schamong), while finishing my Master's degree. I do not want to lie to you at this point: being a barista was fun and I got to meet many interesting people and learn life behind the coffee counter, a perspective as I did not know before. But at the same time, it was not easy to see my friends from school embark on flashy and successful careers, travelling the world, while I was still making Lattes and Cappuccinos in Aachen. 

Being more and more in charge, I noticed that while KPMG and Deutsche Bank sound good on the CV, the impact Lulu's Coffee had on me and the community we are serving was so much stronger. We are just a small business at this stage and our revenue probably does not even cover some high executives' expense account. Still, dozens of familiar faces who come by every day to chat over coffee, hundreds of engaged friends on social media and lots of support from friends and family, really sparked the question why this experiment should not grow larger. 

Well, to cut it short: we will grow and hopefully very soon. Meanwhile, tune in with me and this blog. Behind every coffee place there is a story, and here is part of ours. Please call me by my name, Omar, and follow my blog. I will share with you the exciting and challenging moments of my life as barista and entrepreneur, hopefully building a successful legacy with my family. 

PS: this is not supposed to be a public monologue, but an invitation to comment and discuss. Let us welcome you, let's have a chat and let's share stories, thoughts and emotions and see where it leads us this time! 

The thing about hospitality

When you study Business in Maastricht University, the most common thing to hear from anyone is that they are afraid of boring white collar jobs. Rarely anyone can imagine sitting in an office for long hours, facing a computer screen and not being sure what the hell you are doing and why. Our goal is to feel fulfillment. We want to travel the world and feel a purpose. Still, most of us end up in one of many consultancies or in a fancy start-up in Berlin, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. I am not saying this in a judging way, but I do not see myself in these jobs. Let me explain why I think I found a quite nice alternative in being a Barista.

First things first: When you want to meet interesting people, go for Coffee Places. It is where you find all kinds of people. Those who start drawing a picture while drinking a coffee and go on drawing for the next five hours. Those who take out their guitar and start playing a concert for their audience on the other side of a skype screen. Those who find a reason to discuss in every move you make. Those who just throw around warmhearted compliments and those who are always mad. You do not only learn to accept all these people, you furthermore start feeling what they feel, and start feeling attached to them. They tell you their stories, and you start to care. And when they come back, you feel glad they did, because you want to know how their story continues. People tell the most amazing stories with a cup of coffee in their hand.

At the same time, those people teach you to be patient at any moment. To smile and to be friendly whatever question they might ask. Trust me, if you ever thought there would be no stupid questions… no there are a lot. Still, you reply friendly and courteous, and you do so with an abnormal positivity, that’s gastronomy!

On the other hand, it is tough work. You have busy days. It is Saturday, you work for 8 hours and you are on fire with no breaks. There’s barely time to sit for a second, because once you do so you’ll find a row of people who want coffee and a pile of cups and plates that need to be washed. You did not eat anything for 8 hours and you feel exhausted. Sometimes you feel sick of it, but you do not allow yourself to leave out. There are colleagues that count on you, and there are customers who came for “the best coffee in town”, so you keep going. In the end of the day, you just sit there, try to feel your legs and smile about the funny little moments you had throughout the day. There is hardly comparison to the satisfaction you feel after these long days.

Passion guides its followers

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It has been almost two years now. Two years, since I decided to leave the company that has invented the 2nd most famous phrase worldwide, after “OK”. Two years since I have decided to leave the world’s strongest sales force and enhance my own career in Sales. Instead, I wanted to go back to university and join my brothers’ “project” as I used to call it. My plan was simply to finish my master degree within a year while earning little pocket money as a part timer in “their” coffee place Lulu`s Coffee & Co.

Sure, my commitment should be a little more than the commitment of a regular student employee, but I was surprised how energetic I became towards this “job”. My goal was to become a Barista and that was a long way. I started googling, reading, taking advices and learning. I felt huge pride when the milk started foaming up the way it should. It must’ve been a million of pictures that I send to all my friends, when my latte art started to look somehow like some kind of a heart. Most importantly, when a guest from Canada told me out of nothing that I just served her the best Cappuccino she ever had, I made an inner leap.

Coffee became more to me than just a shot of caffeine I needed every once in a while. Lulu`s became life. I go there when I need to get stuff done and when I want to have a timeout with friends. Even more, sometimes I find myself sitting there at night looong after closing time, just to have a flat white and find peace. So the odds have changed in a funny way. I found myself spending most of my time for Lulu`s and studying as part-timer.

John Lennon’s most famous quote: Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans… and that is actually the best way to describe my past two years. Here I am now, finding myself with a Degree in Business Administration, pulling offers down to pursue a career in Sales or Consultancy only to follow what I love. Lulu’s is not less, but the start is much tougher. So let’s see where it leads us now

Master of Beans and Latte Art


So apparently you do need an MBA to find out that making your own coffee is not just a prerequisite when you decide to work for a startup, but also a skill, art and science.

Did you actually know that coffee is a cherry-like fruit? That people used to eat coffee? That the first coffee brewed probably tasted worse than dishwasher water? Some still do apparently...Well, three months ago when we had the glorious idea to get into the coffee trade, we did not even know the difference between an arabica bean and a hazelnut... 

The easier part for sure was to make assumptions out of thin air, validate them in an Excel sheet, prove the business case in Word and prepare an outstanding summary presentation in power point. Not really - now the real work is to actually get the milk foam just about the right temperature and consistency so that the hearts you attempt to draw on your latte do not look like rotten apples.

More importantly, now we know better: not just do our hearts look legit,.but we also know our Colombian from the Ethiopian and get the milk to espresso ratio right, we know a flat white from a cappuccino and understand why you should never never never keep your beans ground and exposed to air. 

The longest practical class and exhausting learning curve along the coffee belt - but totally worth it when your new office smells of fresh ground coffee every day.