Dutch English
4 - 6 april 2024 / Westergas
25 maart 2022
Rob Clarijs about his new roastery A Matter of Concrete

How did Coffee Masters propel you towards opening your own business?

“Winning the competition in 2019 opened a lot of doors for me. Good publicity and 'personal branding' is essential when you start a business. Even though I never was (and still am) not really keen on being in the spotlight, it's important for people to be able to trust you know what you're doing even if you can't show them on the spot. 

Winning Coffee Masters gave me a sort-of confirmation that I actually knew what I was doing, and this resonates with investors, clients or other business relationships too. Just as an example the owner of the Van Nelle Factory googled my name,  and there's no better way to convince someone than a good Google search result of your name.”


What can you tell us about ‘A Matter of Concrete?’ 

“When the iconic building where our roastery is located was built in the 1920’s, it was one of the first buildings (ever) that was constructed in the New Objective architectural movement. Meaning straight lines, functionality over frills and a lot of glass and steel. The materials weren’t classic wood and red bricks, but for the first time it was ‘a matter of concrete’. 

The second thing is that I love science, measuring and making facts tangible. Making decisions based on facts. Not based on biassed affairs, but ‘a matter of concrete’. And on a more personal note,  I think AMOC is the place where my dreams and the inspiration I've gathered over the years come together. I’ve never had my own place, but always wanted to. So after visiting roasteries and cafes all over the world, from Hồ Chí Minh and London to Seoul and New York, in the last decade I knew exactly what I wanted.”

What is different about your roastery? 

“Not many people start a roastery and immediately buy a 35 kg roaster, a colour sorter and rent a 550m2 space. The location made me go for it 110%. The Van Nelle Factory used to be the biggest coffee roastery in the country. After 65 years of roasting, the Van Nelle brand moved elsewhere in 1995. From this moment on it was thought that no bean would ever be roasted again at this historical venue. 

But then I got the opportunity, 26 years later, and started roasting again. It is quite rare to find a pre-WWII building in Rotterdam, let alone it being a coffee roastery, let alone one listed as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. Now you know, how concrete, just like coffee was and is inseparable from the Van Nelle Factory. With A Matter of Concrete I want to be able to roast small batches of high-end coffee.”


What made you decide to get a Loring roaster, what’s so special about it?

“It's not very special in the coffee scene, but it is quite rare in the Netherlands. If I'm not mistaken there are no more than ten in the country, when there are probably over a hundred Giesen roasters, it being a Dutch brand. The Loring S35 is quite a big roaster – I had to wait thirteen months for it to arrive – and because my roastery is based in a Unesco World Heritage venue I wasn't able to make any holes in the roof for the chimneys. So I had to create a quite complicated system with a fan and a lot of ducting to install the roaster using every single hole already present in the walls.

Furthermore the Loring roasters are known for their energy-efficiency. Using a cyclone system, a lot of the heat while roasting the beans is retained using less than half of the gas of a conventional drum roaster. Also, our energy supplier has a Gold Standard certification, which means all gas supply is CO2 compensated and all electricity comes from Dutch renewable energy. It's a bit more expensive, but it's the way of the future.”

With A Matter of Concrete, how would you describe your roasting style?

“I have two styles to choose from: Classic and Uncommon. The classic coffees are the ones with more typical flavour profiles, like a Brazilian pulped-natural coffee with notes of chocolate and nuts. Well sourced and well roasted, it’s a crowd pleaser. I do the same for a classic washed Colombian or natural Ethiopia Guji.
Then there's the Uncommon section: coffees which either come from an unusual origin, have had special processing, a unique variety or simply really tasty coffees that surprise you. I roast most coffees as filter, and some also as espresso, depending on the flavour profile.”


What coffees are you excited about at the moment?

“I have quite a few crazy coffees, but the one I like most at the moment is an Indonesian coffee from Bali, Kintamani. I used this coffee for my Dutch Barista Championships prelims in 2019 and in the same year I also did a collaboration with 2-star Michelin-chef Syrco Bakker with this coffee. The 2019-crop still tastes amazing and when I tried the 2021-crop I was blown away, so I can't wait to release this coffee very soon. Having imported this coffee myself directly from the processing plant, I'm also the only roaster outside of Asia to have this coffee on stock.”

a matter of concrete

If you can’t wait to try the coffees from A Matter of Concrete, then head over to the Slayer stand (G26) on Thursday March 31 at The Amsterdam Coffee Festival. In the morning Rob will brew a beautiful single farm natural Ethiopia Guji from the Duba Family Farm.  

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