Fed up of mass-produced coffee with no soul, no taste, and no conscience? Together with Senina Cojocari, Rutger Callewier is restoring glory to this raw material.
What is the story behind Wide Awake Coffee?
I was working in a completely different area before: transport. In 2015, I went to live in New York for two years. In that city, you find a lot of bad coffee, but there is also a real appetite for what is now called “specialty coffee”, which is coffee of the highest grade. Once you taste it, there's no going back. I was so convinced, I wanted to learn more about it when I returned to Belgium. I signed up for a barista training course in London. That’s where I met Senina, who had a real skill for roasting. I wanted to open a place and she wanted to be closer to her family in Brussels, so we began our adventure with Wide Awake Coffee, which is both a shop for individual customers and a supplier to the catering trade.
What distinguishes you from other coffee shops?
Specialty coffee is a very complex domain in which things are difficult to understand if you don’t possess the keys. Our goal is to make it accessible to everyone. In order to point people in the direction of coffee that is good and fair, because we take care to pay the right price to the producers, we have designed a selection that is structured according to the main factors of coffee flavour. If you like classic coffee, with chocolate and caramel flavours, you should check out the “Moon Safari” range. If you prefer fruit, notes of cherry or strawberry, choose “Strawberry Fields”.
Your place is right next to MOK, a place that occupies the same niche. Aren’t you in danger of treading on each other’s toes?
Not at all. I really like MOK. I think it’s more like we are in the same camp. We are both striving against mass-produced coffee, a mediocre product that contributes to the world’s problems. Apart from the fact that we work with high-quality green coffee, our strength is that we apply an extremely rigorous roasting process. We test every batch that comes out of the machine before selling it, and it’s entirely traceable.
WIDE AWAKE COFFEE. Vlaamsesteenweg 185 rue de Flandre, Brussels