Refinery High End Coffee

Café Crossroads

Tourists come from around the world to explore Berlin’s central Mitte district, filled with shops, restaurants, and a long list of historical attractions. Down a colorful side street near the sprawling Spree Canal sits Refinery High End Coffee, offering locally roasted coffee, homemade food, and a selection of tempting pastries.

Stepping into the cozy shop, you may be greeted by the owners of the bustling shop, Tansel and Bora Özbek. The Özbeks have always been passionate about coffee culture, but the journey to opening the Refinery began in the heart of Berlin in 2015.

An acute attention to detail, and a desire to establish a hub for coffee professionals and enthusiasts brought the duo begin forming their own idea for a coffee business a few years ago. “The story of Refinery High End Coffee Shop in Berlin includes kind of a fairy tale of the twenty-first century. It is based on the idea to bring out our concept as the art of making coffee, a hip specialty café in heart of Berlin with an everyday routine filled with caffeine,” Tansel explains with a smile.

A Keys van der Westen Spirit espresso machine.
A Keys van der Westen Spirit provides a sleek, modern contrast to the warm wooden bar tones at the Refinery. (Photos: Auste Skrupskyte.)

“We were fortunate to gather a great team of professional baristas who never stop learning and developing. Coffee is a people business, everything is based on personal touch and interaction,” she explains as she walks me through the café.

Black subway tiles shimmer along the back wall of the bar and warm-toned wood panels fill out seating areas in the front window and along the walls of the shop. A row of single light bulbs dangle from black cords, illuminated the two-seater tables and benches below.

Minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic combines with industrial design popular in Berlin—the space feels modern and thoughtful, without being overly stylized. Vaulted ceilings cast an atmosphere of a contemporary living room, and welcome guests to enjoy coffee and conversation next to the Spree River.

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The Özbeks took a more traditional education route rather than focusing their early studies on coffee; they completed university degrees in economics to have a background in management and team work. “Nowadays people feel quite insecure about being team players, so the knowledge helps us to bring the individuals together to makes something great,” Tansel says. “Of course the life itself is never ending school. We endlessly train ourselves: specialty coffee tradeshows, workshops, interactive sessions, and everyday readings—not only about coffee, but also about the innovations in retail and customer service design.”

Refinery High End Coffee is known for its uncompromising attitude about serving high-quality coffee. “When it comes to the coffee selection, our team is in search of the harmony between the best coffee and the best people to work with. It is crucial to have warm and personal relationships with the roasters and combine quality with experience,” Tansel says.

Bora and Tansel Özbek stand in front of the Refinery café.
Bora and Tansel Özbek, co-owners of Berlin’s Refinery High End Coffee.

Refinery supports local coffee heroes and serves the coffee from the well-known roasters Bonanza Coffee and The Barn, as well as market newcomers Fjord Coffee. The selection is frequently accompanied by guest coffee roasters who bring a new palette of flavors. These partnerships are carefully selected, taking into account the roasters’ high standards and meticulous selection of micro-lots. Currently, the shop showcases a selection of coffees from Norwegian roaster Tim Wendelboe.

A focus on quality also extends to coffee preparation and service. Espresso is prepared on a three-group Keys van der Westen Spirit, selected by the Özbeks for its accurate temperature control and pressure profiling per group head. A set of Mazzer Robur grinders preps coffee for the Spirit while a Mahlkönig EK 43 provides the perfect grind for a line of Hario V60s.

The team never stops planning and innovating; they plan to announce a new concept aimed at coffee retail and creative customer service in the coming months. “There is nothing more important than to educate, experiment, combine, share, and empower the coffee community in Berlin,” Tansel says. “We believe in changes, especially when the changes are good”.

Location: Albrechtstrasse 11b 10117 Berlin

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