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Creating Social Experiences at Prolog Coffee Bar

Kødbyen, or unappetisingly translated as “Meat City”, is the meatpacking district of Copenhagen. This area used to have the highest density of butchers in all of Europe, but as the businesses moved out this area, the buildings started to decline. In the early 2000’s there was a push for development after seeing the success of New York City’s meatpacking district, and today, Kødbyen is a place that is alive and moving twenty-four hours a day. 
Outside Prolog

In the early hours of the morning, the baristas, bakers, and prep-cooks are cycling into work as the bartenders and DJs are leaving after a long night. The award-winning restaurants, the night-life, the summer food markets, and the creative spaces are what keep Kødbyen lively and ever-changing. And just over a year ago, specialty coffee has also begun contributing to this bustling district. Prolog Coffee Bar was founded in March 2016 by Sebastian Quistorff and Jonas Gehl and their collaboration with I’m a KOMBO, a food and catering events company focused on creating food experiences.

Prolog at night

Originally the space was supposed to be a temporary installation, but because of its success, the permanent bar has now grown to be one of the most popular spots to drink specialty coffee in Copenhagen. I had the chance to sit down with one of the co-founders, Sebastian, to talk about both his and Jonas’ enchantment with the oddities and how their different collaborations actualized.

Marshmallows at Prolog

Prolog Coffee Bar began as a temporary installation in a space owned by I’m a KOMBO whose “ambition [is] to reintroduce the guest as a participant of the meal and consequently restore the social space of the meal”. The collaboration with Prolog and I’m a KOMBO is shown through their unique food options, like DIY marshmallows. The social act of going camping with family, sitting around the fire, and roasting marshmallows is mimicked in the feeling of meeting a friend for coffee while roasting marshmallows over an open flame.

Coffee at Prolog

The idea is to ignite a conversation among customers over the food, and subsequently, over the coffee. It is important to engage the customers and provide exceptional service, and Sebastian adds, “Prolog is based on an idea of making a space that changes our guest’s daily life…and coffee is just one of our tools in providing fantastic service”. Starting conversations about specialty coffee with those that may not already be introduced to it, is an important aspect of working in and sustaining the industry.

Coffee bar at Prolog

Even though the café is a small, galley-shaped space, the design effortlessly welcomes you to sit down, enjoy the atmosphere, and strike up conversations with those around you. The design of the space adds to the social effort the baristas and owners at Prolog are trying to create. The most ingenious use of space in the café is the back stairwell.

A designer space within Prolog

It was previously an unappealing, cold, and clinical stairwell that guests had to walk past to get to the bathroom. After visiting The Green Factory in Paris, the owners of I’m a KOMBO knew they had to sell these unique green terrariums in Copenhagen and what better space to do this than Prolog Coffee Bar.

books and plants at Prolog

Sebastian and Jonas agreed and proceeded to transform a space that previously was unused and uncharacteristic of the rest of the bar into a favourite spot for their customers. It is often that I come to Prolog and see someone drinking an espresso while sitting on the stairs, reading a book, surrounded by the green terrariums and hanging lights.

View of the outside from Prolog Coffee Bar

After visiting many multi-purpose cafes, like the popular cycling-shop-coffee-bar or the sneaker-coffee-combo-bar, I have found that the combination always pushed one aspect of the concept into inferiority. But at Prolog Coffee Bar, a customer can have interesting food experiences, buy magazines, terrariums, house-made pastries, and still enjoy an incredibly juicy, aromatic coffee without the feeling that its creation came secondary.

As winter is approaching in Copenhagen, Prolog and I’m a KOMBO are thinking of new, creative ways to welcome guests and kindle conversation in the darkest days of Denmark. This past Friday on November 30th, Prolog launched their new coffee tin: “The coffee tin is the product of a months-long artistic dialogue between Prolog and the French artist Atma. Together, they have created the design and concept for the coffee tin—with latte art inspired printing—that includes a bag of roasted coffee beans and a choice of another tasty item”. At the release of the Co’KOMBO coffee tin, there was free coffee, a Christmas döner kebab by I’m a KOMBO, Annex Brewery beers, schnapps, and killer music. The tins on the wall and the decal on the front window will be showcased throughout December to highlight the collaboration between Prolog, I’m a KOMBO, and Atma. If the past is any indication of the future, Prolog Coffee Bar will continue to push the limits of creativity in a coffee bar setting.