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Roaster profile: Man versus Machine

Munich’s leading specialty coffee roaster makes a comeback in our July ’19 coffee box with a gorgeous and surprising washed Ethiopian coffee from Haru

German engineering is renowned the whole world over despite recent blunders such as the Berlin Airport that I am only mentioning because it is the most ridiculed and publicised cases where my fellow countrymen didn’t live up to their reputation. Bavaria, in particular, is a hotbed for small to middle-sized companies, also known as ‘Mittelstan, that are the backbone of the German economy. Maybe it was this environment that inspired Man versus Machine Coffee Roasters founder Marco Mehrwald to give his company a name that builds a link between man and machine but I could also just be speculating.

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One thing is clear, however, and that is that Man versus Machine still occupies the pole position in Germany’s third largest cities when it comes to locally roasters specialty coffee. It remains a complete mystery to me how a city with such a high standard of living, large international population and array of world-class businesses can be so underdeveloped when it comes to specialty coffee but maybe this also gives Marco and his team an opportunity to establish their own brand and take on specialty coffee without too much competition to worry about.

We are very happy to welcome Marco and his fine team back for a fresh new Coffeevine feature in July when they will be roasting a gorgeous and floral washed Ethiopian coffee from Haru station for us.

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I recently caught up with Marco and asked him a few questions about his company to give you a better idea of who they are and what they do.

The Coffeevine: What is your name and what is your position in the company? 

Marco Mehrwald: My Name is Marco and I am one of two Founders of Man vs Machine and in charge of all things coffee (and Design).

TCV: How would you describe to a total stranger what Man vs. Machine does in a short elevator pitch?

MM: Man vs Machine is 1 100% independently run family business. The only ones we answer to are our clients from all over the world. We do what we want and we want to produce the best single-origin coffees possible. 

And we want to produce the best possible coffee experience. Sharing information can be a part of it. Design can be a part of it. Knowing that you support people at origin can be a part of it. It’s a wonderfully complex business to be in.
 
We are pretty sure that no one sits alone with a coffee in a dark room with no light, no music, no chair and no fun – just focusing on that one cupping note.
So, yes, we believe that coffee should always be fun and should always be approachable, even on the highest level of quality. 

TCV: What is the local coffee scene like in Munich today vs. 5 years ago? Has it changed much?

MM: There is not that much of a change, but we can see that more and more „Regular Cafes and Restaurants” trying to put more emphasis on their coffee program, so, in general, the quality is increasing slowly but steadily. But there is not that much happening in terms of new openings, though there are a few. One big change is that we do not have to explain that much anymore when putting a washed African coffee on the grinder. People really get it and they are open to it, when it’s done properly. If this wasn’t the case, we would not exist anymore.

TCV: What can you tell us about the Haru that you will roast for us next month? What makes this coffee unique?

MM: What we liked about the Haru is that it’s different from what you would expect from a typical Yirgacheffe, though it ticks some of those boxes, too. It’s kind of rich while being complex and elegant. You have that hint of chocolate lingering in the back without ever being overpowering. We like when coffees live up to their reputation but sometimes we like it even better when a coffee plays a little trick on you and this one definitely does.

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Unfortunately, due to high demand, the July ’19 coffee box is now sold out.

Please come back on July 16th to discover and preorder our August ’19 coffee box

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