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Barista Stories: Phil Semelink of Kultbohne, Gundremmingen

Phil Semelink is 17-years old barista from Gundremmingen, Germany. He jumped into the coffee world 4 years ago when his father started a coffee roastery and needed a helping hand in the business. Before the academic year will kick off in October, Phil will enjoy being 100% focus on coffee as a head barista at Kultbohne.

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Phil, what is your first memory with coffee?

Eight years ago, when my family and I moved to the new house, my father mounted our home espresso machine. It was a Rocket Cellini, simple [espresso machine] but great. I liked how it looked and observed my father making espressos and milk beverages.

A little bit later, I also began to try the different coffees that my parents were drinking. And well, I preferred to drink espresso. All the coffees were dark roasts, Italian style. I’ve never liked coffee with sugar. Because I liked coffee and the way my father brewed it every time, I also started preparing coffee at home.

Could you describe the moment that made you decide to become a barista?

I learned more about coffee and it quickly became my passion. I asked a lot, read books about coffee, practised brewing coffee at the machine. Then in 2015, my father founded Kultbohne Coffee Roasters, our very own coffee roastery and for me, it was clear, that I want to be a big part of the journey.

What was the most formative period for you as a coffee professional?

In 2017, I spent half a year in Madrid with a host family. In this year, Madrid`s coffee scene just started to expand what brought an opportunity to learn more. I could develop my sensory skills as I could attend much more cuppings in different locations, than at home. Furthermore, I could easily try different coffee beans from roasters from all over the world.

When I returned back home, my father and I decided to roast our coffee lighter and to concentrate on high-quality speciality coffee beans.

Can you recall any embarrassing moment behind the bar?

When I didn’t place the portal filter properly and while brewing it fell out of the group head. The whole bar, coffee machine and I were looking kind of messy.

What qualities set a good and a great barista apart?

Apart from excellent coffee knowledge, a barista has to be a happy and positive person. The barista should be very open-minded and should have an ear for everyone.

It’s important, that the barista doesn’t get annoyed by the clients, but if that happens, he or she should be able to absorb it. Fur there more, a great barista should be able to make a great cup of coffee without any scales or helping by other machines. The feeling is the key.

What do you consider as a highlight of your coffee career?

This year [2019], was definitely the greatest event in my coffee journey. The World of Coffee in Berlin. We as a roastery had a stand in the Roasters Village and then the only thing I thought about was coffee for four days. It was so great to communicate with coffee passioned people from all over the world and also for getting affirmed about my coffee-knowledge-level and our coffees from Kultbohne.

Quick Fire Question for Phil Semelink

Would you serve filter coffee with milk, if asked for it?


Do you ever take sugar with your coffee? 


Espresso or Filter coffee? 

Both. It depends on my mood.

Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?

Medium to high sweetness, medium to low acidity and medium to high body.

Slurp or Spit?

Depends on the coffee.

Sit in or Take Away?

Sit in.

Cake or Pastry with your coffee?

Depends on how it looks like, which one looks better.