Meet Anna Schättgen, a 35-year-old coffee professional from picturesque Gerolstein who currently runs Giovanna Kaffee Roastery with her partner Gio in Cologne, Germany. Anna’s work in coffee is completely orbiting about community and people. She is also not afraid to tackle controversial topics and speak loudly about them. In her roastery, she deals with fine coffea canephora (robusta) and she even made history by competing with canephora during the German Barista Championship.
Anna also creates a well-known in German coffee community channel called Kaffeesahne Podcast where she invites inspiring guests and talks coffee but also tackles topics of sustainability, community and even feminism.
Let’s together take a deeper dive and get to know one of the most active coffee activists in Germany!
Anna, what is your first memory of coffee?
I remember that I always loved the smell of coffee as a child, teenager and young adult, but I never got into the taste. I totally get why most people add milk and sugar to the traditional German Filterkaffee.
So it took some time to grow into it. But I love coffee now all the more.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?
After I quit studying English and Philosophy I started a job at a chain cafe. Drinking coffee was still not my jam but… Making coffee, interacting with customers and organizing the warehouse got me thinking about possible careers in the service sector. Simply sliding into a new work environment wasn’t an option for me so I decided to take a proper gastronomy education.
Specialty coffee crossed my path much later. It took me several years working with coffee until I could grasp what good quality coffee could taste like and what it takes to produce it. My perspective on coffee keeps on changing and I think it’s beneficial to have a professional hospitality background that can also act as a reality check when it comes to everyday coffee consumers who need some extra nudge to understand specialty coffee.
Tell us a bit about your place Giovanna Kaffee.
Giovanna Kaffee is the connection between Ecuadorian Coffee Farmers and Coffee Consumers. We collaborate with a womens’ cooperative in the Amazon region of Ecuador and roast their high-end Canephora. Being Canephora pioneers and specialists, many colleagues try our coffees to learn from our approach to roasting and brewing this kind of coffee that has been underestimated until recently. Gio and I are the perfect business match – being an environmental engineer, a professional caterer and a social media specialist.
What kind of experience do you want your customers to have when they visit your place?
Our place is all about community. The coffee community is an important part of this, but getting new people to rethink their consumption by offering a direct connection not just to a product but also to the people around it is key to our work. Our place is run with all our hearts and that’s the key factor we want people to see and feel when visiting. Coffee is about people connecting and offering a space where everyone is safe and in the best case empowered.
You also host an amazing podcast about coffee, could you tell us more about it? What is the format and which topics do you tackle?
When I started my Kaffeesahne Podcast, I had worked in coffee for many years already but had only just found out about the specialty coffee community that connected all the different people in the chain.
What started as a door opener for me to get in touch with people I look up to, has become a platform for personal coffee stories and views on trading and consuming coffee, working conditions, community, feminism… You name it! It has kind of turned around and is now the door opener to specialty coffee for others.
It’s about all the different views on coffee – how we approach the product and the people who produce it.
What kind of community do you hope to build around your cafe and podcast, and how do you plan to foster that sense of community?
Since I started the Podcast in 2019 I have built an amazing community around it on Instagram, including some fun community activities. Having my own little shop I am now able to transfer that sense of community into my café where coffee people from all over Europe find themselves when visiting Cologne.
Competitions have given me an opportunity to meet so many people, to showcase our coffee and the origins and people behind the beans. However, think my main drive to compete is my personal development as I gain so much knowledge and new skills.
You also created quite a buzz by successfully participating in the German Barista Championship with a Canephora. Could you tell us what was the idea behind it and what have you presented?
Participating in a Barista Championship had been on my bucket list for quite some time. Being self-employed it seemed impossible in so many ways. The idea was to bring everything we do together in one presentation. Having a coffee that I am truly connected to made it way easier and honest. Taking an Arabica to the competition was out of the question from the beginning. Also, the fact that it was a Canephora that I knew very well and had already blown so many minds made it fun to bring on the stage. It’s one of the first of its kind – Natural anaerobic fermented Canephora.
When we first opened the bag of green coffee in the roastery we were confident that this Canephora had to see a proper stage. The fifth place proved us right. The preparation, the shared excitement and the joint achievement made the bond between us as business partners and the women of Chakra Warmi and our customers even stronger.
Since you have quite a broad perspective, in which direction do you think specialty coffee is heading? What will be the reality in the next 5 and 10 years?
Climate change is real and canephora is one of the solutions we must look out for. I am super happy to be part of that revolution #canephoraisthenewblack
And honestly. Seeing the world and how it is developing is rather frightening. I would be glad to play a small part in making people rethink their actions and with that their coffee trading and consumption.
Are there any other coffee projects, or research that you love to promote and put some spotlight on?
My friend and business partner Gio is also the founder of the amazing coffee-producing womens’ cooperative Chakra Warmi in Ecuador. For 4 years now she has put all her heart and so much work into educating and empowering the women who are becoming more and more confident and independent. She opened up the European Coffee Market for specialty Canephora and without her hard work and skill Giovanna Kaffee would lack the most crucial asset that makes us the pioneers we are.
What coffee challenges are you looking forward to? Any new projects or collaborations?
We started Giovanna Kaffee as a quick solution to our troubles during the pandemic. It’s been some tough years. Thanks to our great community we achieved a lot already. I am looking forward to the next years growing to a proper roastery, some more competitions and building a team of new coffee lovers to be!