– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
My Name is Jens Crabbé, I’m 26 years old and owner of MOK Specialty Coffee Roastery & Bar.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
I basically left school early, started working in bars where my interest in food and drinks grew and after taking some coffee classes I knew this was what I wanted to do. The idea of creating my own brand and having so much influence on the flavour of the product is what caught my attention.
– When did MOK open and what is the story behind?
I started MOK when I was 21, I literally took a leap of faith when I’ve put all my savings into coffee gear and started with actually very little knowledge but a lot of drive and curiosity. I believe that your own interest is the best teacher.
– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
Apart from the fact that we work very seasonal en have a light good developed roasting style (like most respected specialty roasters nowadays). I think that you can feel that we don’t do any commercial compromises and really do what we like to do, make tasty coffee, drinks and food. When you have a closer look at the menu in our bar you can clearly see that there are no commercial driven items on there. We offer a Vegan menu with all fresh seasonal ingredients and use fresh sourdough bread from a bakery in Brussels. Also all our drinks like our Tepache and Kombucha are in house made and fermented.
– What was your first coffee experience?
When I was 17 my girlfriend back then dragged me to this 2nd wave coffee place with tons of whipped cream ad caramel stuff in the drinks. I guess that is where I first drank my “specialty” coffee. I had no idea that I would make my life out of coffee.
– How/when have you discovered about specialty coffee?
That latte art and being able to make good espresso is what got me into a Barista course, but it’s in that course that I discovered that coffee can be fruity and juicy and complex! And that there is much more than espresso and Latte Art.
I really wanted to make fruity coffees myself, that’s where I decided to start a roastery and bar.
– What was your best coffee experience?
After two years of being stuck in my own shop I decided to attend the Belgian Cupping Championship to meet some people and literally take a day off, I ended up wining the BCC and got myself a ticket for the worlds in Melbourne. I ended up in the middle of the pack there but had a super nice coffee trip which was very inspirational for my business and coffee insights.
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
I’m not home that often so I barely drink coffee over there. I do have have installed a Moccamaster with a grinder and scale next to it for my housemates. Sometimes when they’re drinking coffee I just check their brewing or try to guess what origin they’re using!
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
Black of course! Filter in the morning, Espresso in the afternoon. I rarely drink capps or milk based drinks.
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
I drink coffee on a daily basis but only one real cup to get my day started. After that I just try a lot of coffees but always as samples.
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
Before MOK, I worked as a bartender in different cafes. Nothing special but this is where I figured out that I wanted to be self employed and that I love drinks and food in general.
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
My other passion is Climbing, you can find me 3 times a week in the Boulder gym and once or twice in Fontainebleau in France during the summer. I also love natural wine and good food!
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
One of the first restaurant which started working with our coffee is Couvert Couvert just outside Leuven. I have a very good relationship with the owners and sommelier and learn a lot from the last one. I love to go there on special occasions, they know their wines and seasons so well!
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
I barely read articles on the web to be honest, almost everything I learned is from trial and error and from communicating with customers and other roasters.
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
Forget everything you think you know and try again.