In this episode of the Roastcast, Cisca talks to Konrad Oleksak. He is the co-founder of SIMPLo and created a simple, yet strong brand. Today he shares with Cisca how they built up the company, what his journey led him to in the coffee industry and how it’s actually flattering why brands copy them.
Cisca: What do you think coffee is really about?
Konrad: It’s about meeting, conversations, pleasure and it’s definitely not about science. For me, it’s actually a pure joy.
Cisca: And that’s what you wanted to create with your brand?
Konrad: Yes, that was one of the two main goals. To make it simple and joyful, and to make people talk to each other. The coffee journey can be super scientific. Especially now with all the processing and roasting. But in the end, it’s also a simple product.
Cisca: I always tell people that coffee has to be accessible. And that roasting coffee isn’t rocket science, but it also is. And we as roasters are responsible for the rocket science part, but we don’t have to tell our customers about that. Their first reaction is always they like the coffee or they don’t like the coffee. And that’s the most important thing I think. They have the first opinion and it doesn’t matter how you roasted it. For us roasters it is, but not for our customers. They want to enjoy their coffee, that’s it.
Konrad: You’re absolutely right. When a customer can say I do like it or I don’t like it. If you want to continue your journey, for example as a professional cupper or judge, this is the first step actually. Because a lot of people can’t even say if they like it or not. They are just like okay it’s coffee, I don’t need to like it. It has to do its job. It has to keep me awake or put me in the mood. I was actually shocked, it’s a huge amount of people who think like this. And it’s our job to change it but at the same time, it isn’t. They are allowed to drink whatever they like.
Cisca: Exactly. You also don’t want to put all the pressure on your customers by telling them how you roasted it, that it’s a natural coffee or the origin of the coffee. I think customers will also feel the pressure to walk in and know it all before they even drink a cup of coffee. So that’s what I really liked about your statements. They are very clear. You drink coffee and make a connection with people, and as we as roasters don’t make it confusing for customers then they will always enjoy it. I also saw it was part of your brand awareness. That also got my eye; your brand. Because it’s really a statement and it’s part of how you are. But how do you gain brand awareness?
Konrad: That’s a good question. We started before the pandemic. It was not fully developed. For example, we were working on an online webshop and we had to speed it up. And there was no time to promote it. It’s a long process.
Cisca: With your vision and your brand, do you see a significant difference between your roastery and roasters in your city?
Konrad: Yes, because we are not focusing on the technical part of coffee. Of brewing for example. We don’t put the name of the farmer on our bags. This is done on purpose, because we like to focus on the product itself. I did speak about it with some farmers. And I asked them how they would feel if the name of the farm wouldn’t be on the bag, but I could promise I would sell more. Because we can create a nice design and story behind it. And then we can talk about the farmers in a different way. For example with a blog, or interviews.
So we are different in that way. I think the highest compliment you can get is to see that someone is copying you. Like the style, and the approach. And I see people doing it which is great. Because I think coffee should be simple.
Cisca: So you really see that as a compliment?
Konrad: Yes I do. Because you can’t avoid it, you can’t fight it. So what you can do is smile and tell yourself you did a great job.
Cisca: I always think that is frustrating but maybe I have to change my perspective. Like you said, that it’s a compliment. But I’m not at that point yet.
Konrad: Yeah, you’re not going to win that. You can in your head for sure, which is also rewarding, but at the end of the day they win and will convey your creativity further basically. Because they have more tools. They can convey the message to a larger number of people.
Cisca: Why did you choose to roast on a Giesen?
Konrad: When I did my research I already was interested because I knew the guys from Giesen. But to be honest, I do love the design, the rehabilitate and I love the control that it delivers. So those three things were crucial. I have a W1A, W15A and I have a W30A.
Cisca: What do you think is important with a good cup of coffee?
Konrad: For me it’s the balance. I don’t want them to be boring, but I do want some balance in the coffee. I’m looking for a good development time basically. I do have my own style for the development time, the length and the temperature and so on. And with any new coffees I do the same and then I just adjust it. I do believe and I don’t at the same time that you have to create a profile for every individual coffee. Because I always start from one profile and then I tweek with the coffee. It’s overwriting an already existing profile.
Cisca: What is your recipe for success? Because if you have a W1, W15 and W30, you’re quite successful I think.
Konrad: I think it’s to not be humble but to be bold and open. To be creative and to listen to people. Do not close inside and go around and say I did the best, I am the best. You need to learn all the time from other people. And of course you have the creativity and stuff. But learning is the best part. The ability to learn and be bold.
Cisca: What are your plans for the future?
Konrad: Opening more than one coffee shop. But for now, it’s trying to catch up after the lockdowns but also don’t forget the goal to expand and open more shops.
You can also listen to the episode here: