– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
I am Ilse.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
I opened a speciality coffee bar in a coffee producing country: Medellin, Colombia as well as in my home country: Brussels, Belgium.
– When did Cafe Velvet open and what is the story behind?
Café Velvet Medellin opened in June 2014 and Café Velvet Brussels in July 2016. I worked in the fall of 2012 for four months in Medellin and was impressed by the entrepreneurial climate in the city and the positive transformation of the city. At the same time I was surprised that there was no coffee culture in Colombia. In Belgium everyone knows the difference between a Cara beer and Westfleteren however in Colombia a coffee producer would not even know the taste of his own product. That has changed in the meantime however was the reason to start this venture in a young and nice neighborhood in Medellin.
– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
We only serve single origins from Colombia and bring variety by experimenting with various wash and drying techniques and roasting profiles. Also, we serve origins from very uncommon regions such as La Sierra in the city of Medellin (controlled by gangs) or Ituango (still controlled by the guerilla). Coffee farmers from those regions work in difficult and precarious circumstances however the soil is very fertile which results in an “exotic” complexity of aromas.
– What was your first coffee experience?
In 2013, when I discovered specialty coffee.
– How/when have you discovered about specialty coffee?
Through a friend roaster who introduced me to the owner of a specialty coffee bar in Ghent.
– What was your best coffee experience?
Cupping coffee from La Sierra and Ituango.
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
Yes, I grind myself and use a slow coffee preparation, usually a Chemex.
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
Several cups daily
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
I was a lawyer.
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
Sports, art, travelling, going out with friends.
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
Colombia for the nature and kindness of the people.
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
Not one in particular
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
The production chain is incredibly fascinating. It takes so much to produce a decent cup of coffee.