Bremen was big in coffee long before Seattle
In the 1960’s there were over 100 coffee roasting houses in Bremen. Today there is only a handful in the city, but they have a passion, history and are eager to share their love of coffee. We visited Kaffeerosterei August Münchausen to find out more about them and the history of coffee roasting in Bremen.
Bremen became a coffee roasting hub thanks to beans arriving at its nearby harbour town, Bremerhaven, from at least the 17th Century. It is said that nearly all of the coffee consumed in Germany had passed through Bremen. You may have heard of Kaffee HAG or to give it its full name Kaffee Handels-Aktien-Gesellschaft! The brand originated in Bremen in 1906 and is still going strong today.
History of August Münchausen
The office, shop and roastery of August Münchausen is steeped in history and looks it as well. They could jazz up the logo and refurb the office but that’s part of its charm and history. Push open the door and step inside…
The compact shop is beside the office with roasters and bags of coffee in the back, so you’re right in the thick of everything. Teak cupboards are filled with the knowledge of three generations of coffee roasters.
The business began in 1935 selling coffee and tea by mail order. In 1938 August Münchausen moved into the current premises and a roaster was acquired. Then World War II broke out and coffee substitutes had to be used instead of the real deal. Their building, and the district was destroyed through bombing with the business not being able to operate again until around 1948.
The bubblegum-style machine below was developed by August to enable everyone to drink coffee. You didn’t have to have the money for a packet of coffee, this machine sold enough for just one cup.
The business is still going strong today with the third generation of the family involved.
This is a very simplistic explanation of coffee roasting. The coffee roasting involves sorting, roasting, cooling, and packaging. The green coffee beans are first added to a machine to remove debris.
The beans are then weighed and transferred to the roaster.
The roasting process starts as endothermic (absorbing heat), but at around 175 °C (347 °F) it becomes exothermic (giving off heat).
This means that the beans are heating themselves! Therefore an adjustment of the roaster’s heat source may be required.
The beans are then removed from the roasting chamber and air-cooled. Below you can see some roasted beans.
The different colours of the beans below relate to the different temperatures the beans were roasted to. The longer the roast, the darker the colour.
The lighter roasted beans will taste more of the variety of bean, weather, soil and its processing. Longer roastings create different flavours so it may be difficult to decipher the bean’s origin.
We got to try some of the Münchausen blends with both of us enjoying their Hanseatic blend.
Find out more about August Münchausen Kaffee here and click here to see their price list.
A trip to the shop and purchase of some coffee should be on your itinerary when visiting Bremen.
August Münchausen Kafferosterei, Geeren 24, Bremen
Coffee on sale:
Tours by arrangement
€8.00 per person, plus €60.00 per coffee roasting demo.
How to get there:
Stop Radio Bremen / Volkshochschule