Yohan Caunegre has been a barista, and more generally involved in the specialty coffee industry since 2010. He’s lived and worked in many different countries including the states, Uk and Australia.He is a partner and GM / Head of training at L'Alchimiste in Bordeaux. L'Alchimiste is a specialty coffee roastery and cafés , who focused on terroir coffees with very high traceability and great social values. They put a lot of work and effort on quality, service, training and sustainability on everything they do at l'Alchimiste.They get to travel every year to the farms they work with around the world. His coffee inspirations come from many places and industries, but looks up to Tim Wendelboe in Oslo and Coffee Collective in Copenhagen.
Apart from coffee, his primary passions are natural wine and adventure climbing. If he’s not at the roastery, you'll find him with no cell reception, high in the pyrénéés mountain range.
@lalchimiste_torrefacteur and alchimiste-cafes.com
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Ashley Rindsberg: So Yohan Caunegre , this is a great to have you on the burning castle podcast. Um, I'll give people just a little bit of background so they know where you're coming from and where you are, which is in the great and beautiful and charming and enchanting city of Bordeaux um, in the south of France, which is a city that's really near and dear to my heart.
Cause I lived there cause I visited there and I have friends there and I just, it's a very special place. Um, and you as you'll tell us a little bit more about this, but you own, um, and or you run a cafe. Uh, that's really, well-known called LA chemist. It's it's not what you think when you think. I think, you know, the traditional French cafe of the Parisian sidewalks, this is really a different kind of experience.
And it's really about the coffee. And it's really about the experience of the coffee, which is quite a different notion, I think, even in France, but I'm going to stop talking. I'm going to let you take over and give us just a little bit about you and yourself and what you're doing. Um, and then we'll say.
Yohan Caunegre: Cool. Well, thanks for first. Thanks for having me. Um, so yeah, L'Alchimiste with the French, the French accent L'Alchimiste , uh, is a specialty cafe while started as a specialty roastery, uh, about almost eight years ago now. It wasn't funded by me was funded by my associate author.
That was, um, so basically he came back from to give a little bit of background of where the company started. Um, he started L'Alchimiste years ago. From scratch, uh, realizing that we didn't drink any good coffee in France back then, especially, especially in France and in Italy, because the culture, you know, the, the strong culture of drinking coffee in those two countries are so, strongly and so deeply rooted that, um, it's stuff for French people and especially young people to move on from this kind of tradition of drinking to small Beecher dock, barely roasted and badly, you know, sourced coffee for at the bus. So, you know, some countries like Australia, America, England, They're not, they didn't have that much of a, of a culture back then.
And, um, and so this, they moved straight, straight ahead from us to the specialty groups to specialty coffee. So after from that, he realized that we didn't drink in good coffee in France and started to. Realizing that we need to do something about it, especially in Boden in any great cafes. So it started like she needs to, which was only a small corner of a production sites, uh, as a roastery. And, uh, it's been eight years. So now it was him. And then, uh, I started along a year after, after that came along and then we became partners in the, in the company. And, uh, now there's a small team of 12 and we have the roastery sites in the cities.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. So, you know, I think it's like you hear someone telling this story about coffee and France and you, it sounds like you're telling a story from the eighties or the seventies, but it's really not. Right. It's quite a new thing.
Yohan Caunegre: Yeah. People are so used to drinking black coffee and it's kind of a, I don't know, it's kind of a thing, but, um, people have, um, people have traveled a lot, especially the newer generations and they realize. None, not only coffee, but wine and food in general, it could be, um, it could be something else, you know, especially, I'll talk a lot about wine because I'm, originally from a wine background.
And especially inBordeaux as you can tell, there's a, there's a bit of a wine culture here, but I grew up in a vineyards in , which is one of the most famous village of, uh, of one red wine making, uh, religion to work probably. But, um, I have to drink, still drink a lot of wine, but, uh, I don't drink most of Bordeaux because we have this strong, old culture of wonder that Bordeaux and the wine is kind of what Italy and France are for coffee in a way.
We so deeply rooted in that old fashioned ways of doing things that people have troubled, you know, moving ahead and studying new things and, and, you know, kind of, uh, do things differently, I guess, as we do for coffee now,
Ashley Rindsberg: So growing up in Saint-Émilion that is. That's kind of crazy. I mean, that is, it's like saying, you know, as growing up as like in, I forget what the name of the town in, in Italy where the, where they produce Ferrari's, but like a car lover going up there, or you know, that this is the real heart of wine making, um, traditionally and probably still today.
So that must have been quite something. So you grew up with this, you grew up with wine. I mean, you can't avoid it with.
And you were living, you were living as like a little as a boy, as a kid in the vineyards, essentially around and among vineyards.
Yohan Caunegre: It's cycling through the vines, this level narrow, very high that highlighted the narrow wine grapes. Uh, it was, yeah, that's like grew up like that.
Ashley Rindsberg: And will you like, were you guys drinking from an earlier age where, you know, I know a lot of cultures where there's a significant.
Yohan Caunegre: I've been around wine since I was born, but we, we, well, my parents and grandparents let us drink wine. Right. Even though I like eight or 10, we started to asking about it. What did it taste like? But usually you don't like it at this age. So especially this kind of table was quite strong and rich, even though inBordeaux or something, you always kind of have the lightest end of wines and red wines, but still it's quite heavy, rich tannins wine.So. When you're young, you don't usually don't like that.
Ashley Rindsberg: So, so you, you grew up in, in Saint- Émilion you grew up as someone who's connected to wine. Um, and it sounded like you ended up working in wine as well. Like how did, what, what were you doing? How did you get into a.
Yohan Caunegre: Well, I didn't get any degrees in wine and stuff, but I've been around wine for as long as I can remember drinking it been surrounded by because when I started, usually when I started in coffee and more generally in the hospitality business, I was really drawn to wine.
So I kind of surrounded myself with friends that are either working in wine or somebody years or selling one, or we know in your home that people making wine. So wine is. Was he still a very, uh, big part of my life. And, um, I do lots of testing outside the coffees, what I do most per week and climbing that's the three things I do.
That's all I do. And, um, and yeah, so. I started working a strategy, uh, handling, you know, the wine used to work in, uh, in, is very high in restaurants in Sydney. And I was thinking, taking care of the wines there, especially because I was French. I had a bit of knowledge of a French wine. I wasn't a pro still not probably a about wine, but I, I knew a lot of things, so they kind of can put me in place there and then a shifted.
Quiet, I think quite early on to coffee, especially in Australia, but we'll talk about that a bit later. I'm sure. But, um, I've been, um, I've been, I'm still surrounded by wine all the time yet, for sure.
Ashley Rindsberg: So, um, let's just going back a bit, so you're now in Bordeaux. Um, and just to, for me to fill people in, like you, you help operate and. And I think it probably play a significant role in the coffee production at L'Alchimiste which is the Alchemist in English, which is this beautiful cafe, and, you know, I'm a coffee lover. Like a lot of people out there. I think this is something today, that's, it's obviously such a dominant part of a global culture, but I think there's a special subset of coffee lover who are also cafe lovers, who are also people who, who really are connected to cafes.
Um, and really are connected to the real deal. You know, that that's something that's kind of like an imitation of an imitation of, and kind of passes by, but something that feels very genuine and very, uh, almost like an, a piece of architecture fits a landscape, you know, a cafe that fits its cultural landscape, even the physical landscape. And that's what L'Alchimisteis really does. It's in this crazy wonderful little niche, um, in a back street of Bordeaux and you sit there on these great tables that are sort of just perfectly proportioned for where you are and where you're sitting and how the cobbles that you're sitting on.
And the view is nothing. The view is kind of a shopper. From you, but it works. It all makes sense. It's all, it feels all of a piece. It feels all of one design. And the coffee also is a big part of that. How it's presented the kind of coffees you serve. Um, and so the question that I have about all this, number one, I wanted to paint a picture for people who've never seen the place, but also wanted to get a sense from you, you know, how much is it designed and how much has it thought through, um, in this intentional way? Or is it just a product of like trying to do better in each individual area?
Yohan Caunegre: Well, um, just to give a little background about that. You love that most of people love the, where we are and that's specific street, which is right in the, what we call the golden triangle, which is like center of South Bordeauxwherever you want, um, it wasn't, it didn't used to be like that. Um, Waldo used to be kind of, especially like back like 10, four years ago, still, it was gray and dirty and kind of sketchy and dangerous. And then an old mayor started to shift everything around in a, in, in studied to be that city that we all know that it's so, so good and so great to be living in.
And that specific street where we are. Well, it was so bad when it first came out, you're from this spot. And he was like, yeah, from this local there, I'm like, why you share, we building right across this was falling. So there was huge wooden, uh, stuff that were holding the building place because it was actually falling down.
And it was all the, what, the smallest rate, where it was no streetlights. And it was so sketchy. And now looking back at it, it was the best decision we ever made. Now this is the street that everyone takes. Everything's food, food, food shops, and very great niche, chocolate, very high end chocolate coffee and wine and stuff like that. So that city, that specific street is, um, w we're glad to be on it because we were probably the first, but now it became something great.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. Yeah. That's exactly it. There's a, there's a flow. There's like a flow of energy through there. It's like a little, like a little, uh, cultural river that flows there very naturally, and it all feels the way.
Yohan Caunegre: But you, um, get back to your question about design and setup and agronomics, I guess if I understood that, right. I mean, we, what, I've, I've been a barista for like more than 10 years now. So I've read the knowledge now about how to set up stuff and are going to make sense. And my deep knowledge, especially this first cafe that we have, because now we have another one.
Would this be, should this first one? How to set up the bar, how to design everything, what machines to get, how to serve stuff, uh, what product to gets and, um, and, and everything around us be tidy as well. So, um, We, we have a strong, we have a strong, um, kind of, uh, art. So you put everything into perspective.
This three partners here, Alation is the Archer, uh, me and Eugenie, which is, um, she doesn't pay a operational role really in that she misses, but she's, um, she's an art dealer, so she's, she's passionate about art and she knows a lot about art. So we have a \ bond without elections, especially so she helped a lot.
Definitely. You can tell with the shop and the materials that we chose and, um, the, the paintings and everything that we have run out, we have these very cool ceramic, um, show, uh, that's for sale. It's a, well, we have a lot of stuff going on, but so this, the three of us plus our, um, our architect company called , which is the one that they're the one that has done, they have done the new cafe as well.
They're based in both the, yeah. Architects, but also the woodworkers. So they actually design into the woodwork. Uh, they're the one that helped us and it came, it came out for great, especially for this, this small space, it's always stuff. Uh, true design is most mess, that's lively and easy to work around in. So yeah, you can come out of great.
Ashley Rinsberg: So there's um, there's a couple of things I wanted to mention there. One is the story, black sootydirty, disgusting Bordeaux. There's no story that you can tell about Bordeaux business culture, lifestyle that doesn't include this background story, which is that Bordeaux has just covered the stone.
What does this building have? Lightstone I don't know exactly what stone it is, but it was. Covered in black soot, the entire city. And it did not look as you might imagine. It didn't look great. And then the mayor, um, who was a top ranking figure in the French government? I think he was, uh, he was, he, he was the prime minister, right.
Yohan Caunegre: If I recall.
Ashley Rindsberg: Ah, right. I learned to pay so prime minister there being, um, not the head of government, the head of government being the president, but still being in a very important role in the French government and becomes a mayor of this, this relatively small city in the south, which is like a very unusual move to go from.
Like top-line national politics to go all to the other end of the spectrum. But he comes in is you pay and renovate. The city greens that he sees, he sees the Juul and the rough, and he really pulled it out and physically, literally cleaned off the buildings. And that's exactly what you're talking about is that Bordeaux went through this just almost instantaneous.
Obviously it was not instantaneous, but it kind of just this flip from one thing, this dark thing to, or this bright light thing that is now this kind of treasure, and you are part of. Switch as well. And the question I have for you is where in the timeline did that fit in relation to you transitioning from wine to coffee?
Yohan Caunegre: Um, I guess you'd also started maybe. For Bordeaux. I mean, not for us, but maybe like about 10 years ago, uh, in French bottle was called, uh, LaBelle on the army, which means, um, how can I translate that to the pretty sleepy, I guess we are all pretty seedy, but now it's sleepy. There's no one going there and it's kind of dirty and sketchy and gray.
And so it kind of shifted everything around started by the docs. There were all these huge. With nothing in it, just, you know, uh, you know, crackheads and prostitution back there. And it was kind of sketchy training out there. And now it's a shuttle neighborhood, which, uh, um, I'm lucky enough to be living in. I've been living there, living there my whole life and I've lived here. Um, the fact that, I mean is, uh, in the Chateau and I was here when it was kitschy and I'm here and is super hypey and go-go and everyone wants to be here in the real estate is surprising, but, um, so he studied here and, uh, I think kind of get people going on, on what Bordeaux could be. And then I guess the whole city followed and in, in line with us in what I guess, um, that started with that specific area where roasteries, which is called Darwin, like, uh, like the Australian city, it's an old military complex, huge, uh, military complex, uh, that was renewed into.
But a hundred different companies, but a big, um, organi cafe and a restaurant and a grocery store. And there's a huge skate park and there's loads of, uh, associations and there's a big beer brewery and there's a lots of things. And then we were the, one of the first ones to be in that area it's across the river. Um, so. For people that never been to Bordeaux to the left bank is where everything's happening. That's the old CD and the old buildings and everything, the city center and across the, across the river on a bread bank, not much were happening. And, um, so then we have been about eight years ago and we were lucky enough to be some of the first ones to be affiliated with Darwin, and we had a small place there and we're still, uh, there. Now we have this bigger 300 square meters there. So we were lucky enough to have that spot there eight years. And then yes, almost six years ago, we started to look for shops because we were on that right bank that we were sending you, you know, on our website and to wholesale customers, but people, you know, in the city, they didn't know us really.
Um, so we started to look for a shop because after you only didn't have any loaded knowledge in hospitality, in service and in the various, that skills basically. And I had that, so me moving into the. Into the company. He said, well, we should, uh, should have been a shop so we can sell a coffee there and make people taste them. So yeah, we found this spot and then that was right when Bordeaux kinda clicked into place and people realized that the city could be great, but I think it's been very high for like three or four years now. It's been like, that's really cool city. Uh, all operations won't come and move in because the quality of life it's so much better than here.
It's it's humanized. It's like 30 minutes from the ocean. It's like two hours from Spain in the Pyrenees. It's everything's slower. And it's it's yeah, it's quality of life is way, way better now. But I think, yeah, people realize that maybe three or four years ago now to the cities, it's it's banging. Everything's brand new, as you said, the dark walls. It's not, it's not like that anymore. And so it's all white and clear. It's um, it's, it's a good thing for sure.
Ashley Rindsberg: It is. Yeah. It's an amazing city. Um, you know, but I also feel like there is a, let's just say you and I have a good friend. Who's also a cafe lover who introduced us. And, um, whose name?
Yohan Caunegre: I guess, Jason, if you're talking about him,
Ashley Rindsberg: Jason is Jason. We've unmasked him. Um, he's definitely one of the best and most popular and most regular regulars of all the campaigns. In Bordeaux, but he kind of talks about you and he's just a coffee guy in general and a guy in general, but he talks about you sort of the coffee man of Bordeaux.
That's like, you know, not that you would ever say any of this about yourself, which you never said that, but he, from his point of view, the way you approach coffee, Which is from a hospitality point of view, which is not to be, you know, I have, uh, I have, uh, a contact, a friend, an associate here who's local to me, and he is really serious about his roasting.
Like he roasts all the coffee, brings beans. Like the beans are like, A few hours too old. He'll just check them off from, um, if you don't drink the coffee the right way he gets and he tells, he he'll tell you, he, he is a coffee Nazi. Like he thinks of himself as a coffee Nazi, but it doesn't sound like that that's what's going on in your world.
And yet you still produce something that is so, seemed to be, at least from when I was there and drinking a lot of that coffee, uh, consistently good. And not just the coffee itself, but also the experience that the way that you drink it, where and how, and who's around you. So the question I have there is like, how did you get something so hard, so right.
And to do it consistently. And, and how did you connect with coffee specifically?
Yohan Caunegre: Well, um, hospitality is a big part of what we do, especially because when I came along and that was where I learned because I've worked in those Michelin star restaurants and very high-end, you know, uh, restaurants and cafes wherehospitality was a big deal.
And that always been very important parts of my life as a, for work and for consumer. So I'd say. Okay, well, we'll talk about what we use specifically, but the four pillars of what we do. And then she means it's definitely hospitality and service, um, products, the quality of products and coffee that we buy.
Again, we'll talk about that a bit later on for sure. Um, sustainability, because we are a big part of what we do is, is, um, make sure that we know. As less as possible our planet, for sure, because coffee comes from very far away and it's not the most sustainable, uh, harvest and crop that we can do, but we can implement stuff to make it better.
For sure. Uh, so all this other stuff that we do, we trying to do as well as we can, while not. Um, while making sure that people don't really realize that it's there. And then if that makes sense, for example, the quality of the product and the coffee that we serve. We're it's so nerdy. We have no point. We have no, no clue of how nerdy we get between our baristas and how big and DPD.
But that's not what we want to show our customers. If you come in as a coffee nerd and you want to talk about what are these coffee from? What's the processing, what's the fermentation length, what, everything, everything you want to know, we can talk about that for hours, for sure. But if you come as a, as a normal guest that wants to have a great coffee and a great experience, you'll have a great coffee that comes from that specific lot from that specific farm that works by dynamic farmings and stuff like that.
But we don't want to showcase that in a way that. Uh, people feel uncomfortable coming with us. And, you know, I know that some capita stone early and people are kind of like scared to get to go there because they feel like they don't belong at this nerdy place of cocky and great hospitality is a way to make people feel comfortable to get great coffee without feeling the whole geeky experience.
I always tell my team, I want you to have like kind of a Michelin star restaurant service. You know, loud pavement music in the background in touch tattoo people and people being smiley. And, and that say, you know, I want to be casual as, as hell, but as, as long as the service is perfect. And on point that's services by far the most important part of what we do in it's the most, um, the hardest to do for sure, because quality and coffee and stuff like that. So it's trials and trial and error, and then you, you learn from it. But service means humans and humans is the hardest, right. You know, one customer will be different than the other. And then you might have not a great day and you're stuck in a chew and this and that. You can be sick and, and, you know, That's the toughest, but that's what we must brought out product. And that's what we work on every day. For sure.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. And I, you know, I think that's the whole point of it, because as you said, like, you can go in as much depth as you want with the coffee itself and you can buy great beans and you can do that at home, probably just as effectively if you really want to put in the time.
But that's not what it is really about. I think when people are coming to. Like yours. Um, or a lot of the places that we've seen pop up in Bordeaux and around the world, they're coming to connect, um, in a completely different way than they connect outside. Because when you're outside of the environment, you are your screen. You are all the media that's being streamed into your brain, 24 7. Just about your Twitter, your Facebook, your Instagram, your all that shit. And you go to a place like LA chemist. Sorry. But I'm not going to jump the French, but, um, but when you come to a place like. All that stuff feels irrelevant. It feels like an intrusion.
It feels like something you don't want there. Like, like a fricking alligator just walked up so you don't engage it. And instead you open your book. If you open your notebook, you talk to the friend next to you, you talk to the stranger next to you, whatever you're doing. And I think that's kind of the, the amazing thing about it.
Because again, when you look at, let's say in New York city where you have. You know, great coffee, I'm sure as good as anywhere else. Um, but you don't have that. You don't have that experience of being able to stop and to be where you are for an hour, for a full hour, you can be in that seat and you feel like it's the right place to be.
And that's not something you find in many places in the world, nevermind New York city. But even, I would say, you know, Israel where I am has a real coffee culture. Of course. People do like to sit, but it's not with that same level of calm. Um, this kind of this designed experience, you know, this thing that's really been thought through from all elements.
So that I think is why, why it's such a great place for me in addition to the coffee. But, um, but you know, I also really do want to think about like what. What is this wave that we're seeing around the world with regard to coffee, like one day was just kind of something you ordered from McDonald's or whatever you could find Starbucks, if you were lucky.
And then today it's gone through like, not just one revolution, but it feels like two or three big revolutions where it's, it is changing us. We're changing it. So, um, just, you know, what are your thoughts about where coffee is today and what it means to, to this culture that we're in?
Yohan Caunegre: Uh, well, uh, this waves, as we talk about it in specialty coffee, right now, we in the third, what we call the third wave.
Some people talk about the fourth coming up. I don't know. What's a really all about specifically, but I would, I would say that now people, uh, are willing and want to know. What they drink any, you know, what it is, where it's coming from, we're moving past organic in a massive way, you know, like, uh, all the big corporations did your organic stuff. And, and it was the big thing that was happening 10, five years ago. And now people really want to know where it's from. You know, what's, what's the face behind it, how it grows, how much was he paid for it and stuff like that. And it's the same for wine is the same force. Spirits is the same food. It's the same for coffee.
So I'd say it's specialty coffee as, um, as an industry. So you put everything in perspective because not everyone knows what's especially coffees, but it's a lot of things at once. But usually especially coffee is a cafe is a coffee that, um, Well, it's great tasting. Obviously we have a, we have a scale of a hundred as wine, everything that's above 80. So all the best coffees in the world basically can, we can pretend to be specialty coffee. And also it's not only, only taste it's. Um, it's also where it's from. So you have full transparency and traceability to the, to the coffee that you buy. Almost none or maybe one or two people in the middle of the chain between you, the drinker, the coffee buyer and the producer.
So, so that's why speech, especially coffee in general. So that means there's a big broad of stuff speech coffee breaks. Uh, especially coffee importers, bring coffee buyers, roasteries, cafes, you know, wholesalers. There's going to be plenty of people in, you know, in that chain, but, um, it's growing in a massive way in a big pace.
It's it's exponential now because 10 years ago, it was only in a main, big cities in the world that you could see that maybe. As you said New York may be in a barrier in London in, especially in Australia and Sydney and Melbourne, where they will start in Seattle maybe and stuff like that. But now it's every medium sized city or maybe small sized city have at least one specialty caffeine. So it's something that's, that's growing at a very big pace. And as much as you can see that huge, huge companies are taking a huge interest in, in specialty crops. Because they see the losing shares of the, of that, of the, of that old market, for sure. Um, you know, some very cool, um, especially, um, Californian brands, especially cafes and restaurant.
There've been like, uh, you know, uh, it was a years, years back now, but you, you, I don't know if you heard, there was those three really big restaurants that were so cool. Independent in the barrier, a blue bottle you might have heard from town or intelligentsia. There've been about to a point where, like, it doesn't even make sense.
You know, you know, I've met your honor, uh, back then, do you want a blue bottle in the barrier? It's Freeman? What a really cool guy, by the way. And these. You started as, you know, the rusty shed in his backyard, rusting, you know, with the smallest Henry Russell he had, and then building that building a roastery and a small cafe, and he opened like maybe 10 to 15 cafes in the area years later. And this lady was like, they came along and offered him 500 million for his company. So who says no to that? You know, so. It's important that you realize that you see those big corporations moving ahead and buying the smaller restaurants and stuff like that, because you can tell there's a big, deeper trend going on right.
More than just this cool hip cafe with tattoo people that are, you know, you know, lots of art and chips on top of your cappuccino. And so definitely more than that.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. I mean, that's, um, that's this weird tension we're seeing. I mean, you know, I, I write and talk and think about media a lot and that's the trend that's been happening in media, which is that all these media organizations are owned by the same four or five massive companies.
And then you have the emergence of independent media, you know, blogs and podcasts and independent companies. And it feels like this, the same tension. You know, you have this tension between the. Spirit of what you're doing, which is the whole thing, because just like in media, in hospitality as well, the moment profit becomes more important than anything else is the moment you lose the priority of the previous value, whether that value is truth.
And that gives the media or the, the experience of the. The guest in hospitality or in any other industry, it's the same thing. So this is like the, this, this core tension we're all facing even beyond business, which is the individual versus the institution, the, the tribal and the authoritarian and the individualistic and people who are really more on the side of, um, Liberty and freedom of expression.
Freedom of action. Freedom to be, uh, Independent. So, yeah, that's it. I didn't know. This was already becoming something that big businesses were starting to pick up on it. Maybe even predate on like, they're really just the gobble it up when they see the opportunity and it becomes a trend because for them, the, the stakes are so low, you know, if they eat up a company for 10, 20 million, a hundred million dollars, These are, these are a hundred billion dollar companies like Nestle.Uh, it's not a significant investment. It's just a great way to hedge their risk. And that's such a damaging thing.
Yohan Caunegre: And you kind of show that they're, you know, in place in coal and they look at like what's going on in the market for sure. You know, us, even as a small company, we've been approached and we are lucky and very happy to still be independent.
And we really want to be as long as we can. And we're probably never going to be, uh, you know, saying sheriffs to some other bigger companies that don't know what our core values are, you know? Uh, so that's why we growing our own base and, you know, it's growing steady, but upwards every year. So we're very lucky to have that. And especially. In friends and in Bordeaux work kind of everyone's wants to beat. So we're in the right place at the right time. We're kind of lucky for that, for sure. It's still touching wood.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. But it, but it also feels like, you know, Bordeaux's kind of, um, you look at like New York city, which New York city never used to have, like the big brand stores, like target and you know, these big American chains and never, you never used to find that really in New York city and then you did. And then New York started just becoming all of that. Like there was nothing left, except for that. All the little bookstores were gone, um, all the little clothing shops and whatever, whatever was replaced with these huge stores.
And you look in London and that's also happening on the high street as well. And maybe in Paris, I'm not sure, but bordeaux was still able to to protect its independence a bit, because it was late to the game because it's not a global capital. Um, and you still have that kind of little enclave there, but I imagine that, you know, you're going to have to be fighting for that more and more to keep it,
Yohan Caunegre: I feel like you can be right in the middle of two seats in that regard, because you know those big cities, as you mentioned, London, Paris, New York SF or whatever, they all move towards those huge corporations and companies, because there were so many people living in the cities and they kind, um, the, the first one of trend appeared, it started in this company, in these big cities, obviously. So as we said, as you said, we are late in that regard, but at the same time, as I see and hear people. Wanting more, as we said, you know, better products, motor solidity and stuff like that. So people now I feel new trend is like people moving away from those big corporations. It's still not everything. And not everyone for sure.
You can. I feel like maybe we'll be lucky enough to not be too damaged by such trends because since we late and the new trend is like people wanting, you know, more traceability and transparency and better products and locally grown stuff. But I mean, maybe we'll be lucky to kind of, you know, work our way through that in, you know, in between the.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, I hope so because it's a very special place, um, down, but let's, before we wind down, I want to just talk a little bit about coffee itself. So you were talking about, um, the rating system that coffee's 80 and up are our specialty and considered a certain kind of quality and also, you know, like guide us a little bit because we've also, we've all heard about, um, Kevin , you know, we've heard about wine varietals and we know that there are different producing regions in the world that are very good at France and California, but there is the same ability to differentiate among coffee, um, sourcing and being types.
And, you know, so tell us what you like and tell us where, where you gravitate towards and give us just a little more of that taste.
Yohan Caunegre: Oh, that could be a very long subject. Um, well basically in coffee you have, uh, what we call commodity market and especially the market commonly, geez, maybe like 98% of the market. That's what's everything sold, uh, through stock. Uh, so. Everybody knows the two main species that, uh, harvested in word in, uh, in regard of coffee, which is rubbish and Arabic. So Arabic is sold through the New York market actually every year. Uh V-Day and London is for a RubiStar. Um, so basically you have those two species, um, rubbish. Very low ground, very high yielding coffee. That's kind of bitter strong and not that complex. It's very cheap. And you know, there's loads of, um, uh, generally big, bigger harvest than Arabic. So usually a rubbish. Mostly for commodity coffee. And then you have Arabica, which is, has to have, which is higher, higher ground coffee, uh, that necessarily specific climate, um, lower temperatures, less yield.
Um, so it's. More complex, more acidic, less bitter, and also less fielding. So in specialty coffee, we gravitated toward a Arabic coffee for sure. And, um, Arabica doesn't mean that it's great. It means that it's probably better in a way that we like, um, than RubiStar, but it's not because you're buying Arabic and that is great.
You can have chirp terrible Arabic and Arabic. And then when you talk about that, Arabic. Well, thousands of vitals and, and different and stuff like that. As I mentioned for wine for separation, stuff like that in wine, so that you have, you have thousands of different, different ones. And then in regards of where we buy our coffee from, we mainly buy from central America and Eastern.
Because for us, it's where the best coffees are. And, uh, just a little background on Arabic coffee. Everything comes from, from Ethiopia without Ethiopia, they run in coffee in the world in erotica, right. We all talk about, you know, there's big, British has Brazil, uh, Vietnam, Colombia, but it all started in, um, you know, in Western parts of it European without, without, without yoga, there would not be any coffees in the world. We know, traveled a long way to be planting in different countries. So we've definitely love it. Turkey. I've been there a couple of times, myself. It's such a different country. It's especially for coffee, but me as well. It's just, it's just crazy down there. And so you have. Coffees that grows everywhere. That's uh, that's uh, you know, the wide plan there that grows just generally in a forest. So it's, it's a special place for, for coffee, but then you have very good, very good producing countries in east Africa, Kenya, Burundi in Xenia, uh, Yemen, even though the political geopolitical situation now. Uh, even if you can always at war.
So, uh, that's a very difficult part of the world. And then in central America, you have very, very good, uh, precinct countries like Colombia on the rascal and Mara Panama, of course, and, and very good coffees in Brazil too. So we buy many from, from, from those countries and we traveled to our orgin every year. We meet, I know all the farmers that we buy from. There's a, you can buy two ways you can buy. Let's kind of get geeky and more specific, but you can buy spots. What we call spot. It means you go to country or not even go there and you taste a whole bunch of coffees and say, I want to buy that because it's the best. And then next year, it's not there. It's not good yet. So that's not how we really want to work. We try to work year after year with the same farmers. So, and then she meets you won't have a very big broad of different coffees. And year after year, you won't have much of a, of a, of a change, but because we really want to work year after year with these farmers that we know, and that we like.
Uh, so we are dedicated work with us farmers, um, for the longterm. So we know him, uh, either way we buy straight from them and import ourselves for a small part of our coffees, or we work with them, the transport sourcing company called Belco here in model, uh, which are great from the own business. And they, uh, they know a lot by coffee.
Uh, No fees in Addis Ababa, atrium in capital and in Salvador and now in Columbia. So they're there on point on sourcing coffee. Um, and then we get the coffee back to Bordeaux. We roast it and then we hit away, started wholesale to any customers on small bags, or we just brew it in about. With our baristas, we have two cafes.
And so you can, we have a knowledge of the whole chain, which is good because we know where the coffee's from. We've been there. We know how it's been produced and harvested, and then we know how it's been transported and rusted and that's where we grow it like a whole week. I mean, it's a such a deep, deep, deep subject. How we do stuff and how do the coffee market works for sure?
Ashley Rindsberg: It is, um, it's fascinating. And I actually not long ago, read a book about, um, how the cough. Coffee emerged as a commodity in the European exchanges in, or I think around the 17th century is a book as a book of fiction by a guy named David LIS who will be appearing on the podcast next week.
Um, so he'll be on soon. He wrote this really great thriller that's based around coffee. It's called the coffee trader and it's about, uh, Western Europe being introduced for the first time to this bean. And they don't, nobody knows what it is. And then. See the tidal wave, the economic tidal wave that's coming for the continent.
Um, except this one, this one trader that the book is based around. So it's an F it's a really fascinating history. And also it's a fascinating present day reality. And when I came to port dough, the reason I went there was to write a book, um, also a novel and sort of inspired by events that happened to me.
But a big part of that book is coffee. Um, it's a fictional story about a guy who goes to Nicaragua and, uh, gets lost as, as a good friend of mine had, had done. Um, And when I was there, it's sort of like, you see the magic of these, these coffee farms, um, in the Hills of Nicaragua and the mountains. And it's so beautiful.
And so alluring and coffee itself plays such an important role in those cultures. That for me, it became a part of this book that I was writing in Bordeaux. So, um, the, the loop closes again,
Yohan Caunegre: It plays a big role very often in most people's lives. For sure.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. So, and, and that's another, that's the other part of this for me, which is something I was thinking of today as I was like grinding beans to make them my, my ninth coffee or something insane.
And like, Asking everyone around me, anyone that comes into my zone, like, do you want coffee? Do you want coffee? My wife walks into the room. Like, do you want coffee? And it's like, whoa, what is this thing? What is it about it that has got us so glued to it? And that makes it the most, the number one drink in the entire world after water.
What is it about this thing? That, that's the last question I want to put to you and kind of explore this insanity. We all have.
Yohan Caunegre:I don't know. I can't even answer that for myself. I don't know why I'm so addicted to it. I mean, I'm not that huge of a coffee drinker. I drink coffee for tastes mostly, you know, my girlfriend, she can't, he can't wake up without making a V 60 and drinking coffee. And she can't normally function with having, without having caffeine in our body, but I'm not that type of guy. And I can, I can be on traveling for three weeks and not having great coffee. And that's fine with me. I'd just rather than. Good coffee and don't want to be partial or whatever, but just want to drink great tasting coffee.
That's what I like. So that's what I'm drawn to and most well as I started as a barista years and years ago, my whole goal was to be, uh, you know, knowledgeable and geeky and about, you know, very static meanings in coffee and stuff like that. And, um, I came a long way from that. So I'm still. Overly geeky about coffee and stuff like that.
And now all of our teams are because of that, but now it's more the story behind it. What's what's farmer doing what's what is gaining from it? What, um, you know, agreed, agree, control practices. This specific farmer has and as I said earlier, the sustainability plays a big part of our company. And so, you know, the scoring system in.
Obviously the higher you go, the better the coffee or the more complex. So there's lots of cafes and competitions and baristas and stuff like that that are drawn to what we call the 90 plus coffees, everything that's above 90. That's super rare, very pricey, incredible tasting coffees. Um, I was drawn to that. I'm still drawn to that, but now, uh, I'd rather drink. And that's a super like specialty geeky, nerdy things say, but I'd rather drink a good 83 that I know that the specific farmer didn't use any specific entrance and pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, and it grows. And the farmer gets to sell it straight to the importer or to the, to the roaster and makes it, I'm not sure living in kids get to get to school.
They have a proper home and. I'd rather drink an 83 like that than a 90 plus that we're at a farmers have been exploited and they barely covered the cost of production, you know? Um, so complexity and taste as play less of a major role in how we buy and how we brew and what I like about coffee. Um, so that's what I'm drawn to. I think coffee is exciting to people for various different reasons. People going to cafe because they're like, yeah, I have a heart in there. Cappuccino, as I said, that's actually a big thing. When people, they don't know much about coffee, they go, they go to a great cafe. They have LATERA in their drinks.
That's something that's very appealing. People take pictures, pictures and stuff like that. Or it will be, the taste will be, the story will be because of the caffeine. I don't know if this, all the stuff that I, you know, altogether that makes coffees such a drink. Nobody understands. Uh, I would say that, um, me, the first one, I, we know coffee for centuries. Uh it's as you said, after water, that's what most people drink, uh, in the world, but also one of the crops that we know less about. In the whole world and people don't know much about coffee. People expect coffee to grow in bags, uh, in the shelves of the supermarket. You know, they don't know where it's from.
They don't know what it is. They don't even know it's a cherry that grows on a tree. So it's a big part. Also, what we do is, is, um, is training and making people understand what coffee really is. And, um, that I think that's, that's very important and we're still very early on into what we know about coffee and waiting.
He's going to look up, he's going to get to be, I guess. Um, yeah, graffiti is a great thing. I'm going to be less and less of it in a few years, we get to, we get to watch out for the, for all, what comes ahead, you know, comic change, all that stuff. Everyone talks about it, but the same for coffee, but more and more people wants a great coffee and less and less and less land is become a bit too warm for coffee crops.
So we're going to see a big. The big, big move up in terms of prices in coffee in the next few years, for sure. And people have to understand why you have to pay more for the coffee. That's the main thing.
Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. Um, that's very interesting. Um, thinking about coffee as a story. Like anything else, but a very unique story.
Um, and a romantic one, you know, I think that's a big thing that it engages our sense of romance, even at six in the morning when we're trying to get out the house. It's this thing that. That I don't know that somehow speaks to what we need know and delivers on it every day. There's something about that, that reliability of having this button, you can push in life because you don't really have a lot of that in life.
You really don't have that predictability. Um, yeah.
Yohan Caunegre: You know, you're going to enjoy
Ashley Rindsberg: Even exactly and it's going to make whatever else you're doing a little bit, either better or easier. Um, so yeah, I think that's, that's a great, that's
why people love so much work in cafes now kind of makes sense now because people.
Yohan Caunegre: You know, really want to have a, we just coffee when they, when they go and work on computers or read or whatever they have to do a meetings, have lots of people coming for meetings, you know, six people going for like business meetings, drinking coffee. I guess that makes sense what you're saying
Ashley Rindsberg: for sure.
Yeah, I exactly. Um, so I I'd say last question. What are you reading? Um, or what do you recommend if there's a book coffee related book? If you're, if you're reading something right now, it doesn't have to be coffee related. It can be just what you're happened to be reading. Um,
Yohan Caunegre: Uh, well I have a shelf, like all that is coffee, so.
I guess we can, we can take plenty of one really great, um, book that I love. Uh, uh, it's easier. It's for everyone. It's James Hoffman. What his last coffee is. I'm an ex a world best barista. He has a company called the square mile. Uh, very knowledgeable guy, super nice dude. Uh, very approachable.
Ashley Rindsberg: Could you open it up so I could see what it looks like inside?
Yohan Caunegre: Everything from barista techniques. To farming to history and it's very readable, easy to understand and it's, um, Uh, so again, that's called coffee by the world.
Ashley Rindsberg: Atlas of coffee by James Hoffman, government beans to brewing coffee, explored, explained, and enjoyed it. I'll have to look up James Hoffman and find out who he is.
Yohan Caunegre: He has a great YouTube channel. That's very approachable. It talks about a fee. Uh, so that's for coffee. The main thing that I'm there, that will, I would say, well, there's dozens of books that we can talk about, but right now, I'm reading a Jack Kerrick book on the road, your books, you know, uh,
Ashley Rindsberg: He was a master in such a weird, weird way. And his books have this quality about them that you just can't, you can't replicate you. Can't, there's just one of a kind. Yeah.
Yohan Caunegre: Uh, well, um, you know, in this be inspired, that's a moving away from the topic here. But as I said, I'm doing a lot of about rock climbing and. The states, uh, away from the ops here, uh, the states, especially in Yosemite, played a big role in your rock climbing, rock climbing history.
And they all, all were reading those, uh, you know, travel and, uh, and, and trouble books like, uh, Jacko walk and stuff like that. So, um, so yeah, I've been started to read more and more of, um, American, uh, American, uh, American, um, adventure books lately. Um, It's been great
Ashley Rindsberg: loving it. It's a great John HRA. And so a really rich on. Um, I, if you ever want to read a great adventure story, um, the, by the first volume of the biography of theater Roosevelt, president Theodore Roosevelt, um, called, um, Theodore Rex. No, sorry. Uh, it was not called that, that was the second one. The first there's the first one in that series, um, is just about this man who lived the most insane adventures.
Um, just felt called to it over and over, you know, raising Buffalo in the west and, uh, fighting a Cougar with his bare hands and just crazy, crazy stuff. But it's a great. Um, especially climbing there, there's something I watched the Dawn wall and the documentary, and it's just, it's something about that.
These guys, you guys to come ISA is such an inspiration, a hero.
Yohan Caunegre: That's a great movie in, in what we call, uh, it's a specific area of climbing called adventure climbing because you also have sport climbing and speed climbing and, and, and, and up in ism and stuff like that, that. But is in adventure. Climbing is probably the master is the best in, that's such a good vision, but it's so humble is just, just works and works and works on what he wants to do in the project.
Eddie as it's great inspiration for coffee before plumbing, before everything for, I really recommend the push from Tamika.
Ashley Rindsberg: Okay, I'm going to, I'm going to buy that. He, that, he's an amazing, an amazing, amazing individual with an incredible story that when, especially watching that movie and your, your jaw, your mouth is already open and then something else happens and it drops even lower.
You know, you're just like, whoa, excuse me. Um, and the way he reacts to these things that happen to him in his life, the, these insane instances of adversity. Is really something. And you know, you think about yourself and you think, oh my God, if I, if I even had a 100th of that, and then you start to think, well, how could I have 100th of it?
I could surely have 100. Maybe I'm not going to achieve what he has in my version of it, but at least to get a fraction of it. And I think that is. The question that may be, it all begins with a cup of coffee. So, but thank you so much for, for doing this. Thank you for joining me here. Um, I'm going to come back and visit soon.
I'm going to have a coffee. Maybe we'll do another conversation. I definitely will. So one for sure. So thank you, yawn. Um, tell anyone who wants to know, where do they find you? Where did they find the cafe online in reality?
Yohan Caunegre: So we're to effector, which means lashings the roastery. Uh, one roastery and a cafe within the same space in that one, uh, on the right bank, we have the small cafe that you did it on the left bank.
So we have two spots put lunch, miss coffee on the internet. You'll find this instantly. We have a website we sell on our website worldwide. Uh, and then, uh, and then, yeah, um, If anyone is keen to, um, to come and enjoy and maybe have a talk, you can ask for me or anyone on the team on our, whatever, Facebook, Instagram accounts, or on our website, on our email, whatever, if anyone's around in, in Bordeaux, we do.
Uh, you know, uh, public cuppings and coffee tastings are open and free for everyone. Uh, so, um, yeah, that's us.
Ashley Rindsberg: So, um, I'll put a L’Alchimiste Cafe to the relevant places, but just so people know, let's say, um, on Instagram, where do they find, how do you spell it? How do you spell it? You're the handle
that, uh, a L C I H a, sorry, a L C H I S.
No, what I'm saying? What am I, how did you spell it in English for me. Okay. It's a L C H I M I S T E a and then to affect a T O R E. Uh, F a C T E U R. Wow. Nicely done. But if you put that, she meets you'll find it like she, whatever, you'll find it.
Ashley Rindsberg: So play around on Google. Those of you who, who didn't get it, um, it's really worth checking out.
It's really worth seeing just the photos and, and go to Bordeaux and go visit this incredible cafe and look upYohan, have an awesome conversation. So thank you on, uh, we will be in touch maybe in we'll do round two in person.
Yohan Caunegre: Looking forward to that. Thank you so much.
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