While it's not exactly known as the city that never sleeps, Amsterdam is certainly a place where people are on the go at all hours. And how do Amsterdammers stay so energetic? So on the ball? With the help of great coffee, of course. No matter the time of day, if we find ourselves in Oud-West and in need of a caffeine jolt, there's only one place we go - Monks Coffee Roasters. Owner Patrick Abbott sat down with us and spilled the tea... er, coffee on running his own business, his favourite coffee and so much more.
gloobles: Hey Patrick! So, let's get down to business. How did you end up opening Monks?
Patrick: I studied Communications, Media, Film & Television, so my background is quite diverse. I worked with a hospitality business in Australia setting up hotels & restaurants, and I guess I got a taste for the business. I knew I would open my own space one day, and this decision was made when I landed in Amsterdam. I spent a year and a half looking for a suitable place with a vision of how it would work. Then I accidentally stumble across a space in Bilderdijkstraat and Monks was born.
gloobles: We love when people have that kind of unwavering vision. It's so inspiring. The space is really cool. What was your idea for how you wanted the space to look?
Patrick: My initial idea was to create a space that was comfortable & modern and created a sense of welcoming & calm for our customers. At the same time, the design had to have longevity. It should stand the test of time, wear well and be pleasing to to the eye. Most of all, I wanted to make a space that I would love to visit myself, again & again. A cafe is a ‘third’ space; you have your home & your work, but you also need a place to escape to.
gloobles: Absolutely. How would you describe the concept of Monks to someone who’s never been? What sets it apart from other cafes?
Patrick: We have a space that has something for everyone, from the finest coffees prepared however you desire by trained baristas to a menu that offers delicious, freshly prepared food by our talented chefs. I believe a cafe should be three things: it must have a welcoming atmosphere, offer excellent products and have service that is second to none. I believe we achieved this at Monks. It’s vitally important that you don’t take shortcuts with your shop or compromise for the sake of maybe saving some money. At the end of the day, your customers have to come first because when they don’t …you don’t.
gloobles: We couldn't have put it better ourselves. Now, how about those beans? Do you guys sell them as well as prepared coffee in-store? Are the people coming in for flat whites or Americanos different from the people buying bags of beans?
Patrick: Last year we created a beautiful, modern coffee roasting space in Westhavenweg. It's where the magic happens, selecting the finest green beans from around the world and roasting them to perfection. Many of our customers make coffee at home and buy whole beans from us off the shelf. I wouldn’t say they differ too much from regular clients, they just drink more coffee.
gloobles: Do you have a go-to bean?
Patrick: Coffee is a seasonal product. Each sector, whether it's South America, Africa or Asia, has different growing seasons, so we wait for new crops each year. I guess for me, it’s South American coffees mostly. Peru or Costa Rica. I like their distinct chocolate & caramel flavours. Many drinkers also prefer the coffees from Africa with their distinct fruitiness & acidity.
gloobles: We guess it also probably changes depending on how you're taking your coffee at that moment. Speaking of, what’s your favourite thing to drink at Monks?
Patrick: I drink a couple of espressos first thing in the morning. This has a lot to do with the preparation of the coffee for the day. To make sure the coffee is at its best from the machine. During the day, I like to drink Cortados. At Monks, we prepare this as two shots of coffee with equal parts steamed milk, served in a piccolo glass. I’ve switched to oat milk recently because I find it creamier & easier to drink.
gloobles: Oh, we're Oatly converts ourselves too! What do you like to nibble on with your coffee?
Patrick: In the morning, it’s difficult to decide between a Pasteis (Portugese tart) or a cinnamon bun. But, coffee doesn’t always need company… it’s perfect alone. :)
gloobles: Good point! Great coffee needs nothing else. If you could share a cup of coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be & why?
Patrick: I know it’s such a cliche, but my favourite person to drink coffee with is my life partner & best friend in the world, Margriet. We’ve been on this journey together for a long time now, & we’ve learned to appreciate & be grateful for the simple things life offers, especially coffee. And of course we love making coffee & drinking it together.
gloobles: So sweet! And, finally, where do you see Monks in ten years?
Patrick: We’ve just reached four years open, and it’s already been such an incredible journey full of fun & challenges. Notwithstanding the current global situation, we are hopeful & optimistic for many more years of coffee. I would love to open another cafe in the city, more of an espresso bar. I think that would be enough to keep us occupied for the next ten years. I truly love this journey with its daily challenges, but I’m also glad I made the decision to take the leap, and I encourage anyone who is thinking about a similar journey to make a plan, learn, talk to others, find out as much as you can and just do it.