Berlin-based Marco Prüfer, or Marco Kraft, has a real passion for coffee. After quitting a safe job in the marketing industry, he took a risk and opened his dream place, Cafe Kraft. We talk to him to discover how he made it.
Where are you from and how long have you been in Berlin now?
I have been away in different countries travelling and working, but I am real Berliner. I was born in the DDR in 1988 and was brought up in West Berlin, in Spandau, which was kind of: “you are from Spandau… ok, boy.” But later I went to university in the other side of the city to study Business Administration. Afterwards I got a great job in marketing, but I decided to do something I was really in love with. I quitted and started my career in the coffee industry before it was too late.
How did you become passionate about coffee?
Coffee was a hobby for me. I had a coffee machine at home, and I used to attend lots of classes, workshops. When I decided to open a coffee shop, I had no serious experience. I was always passionate about high quality products in general. While I was looking for a good coffee in Berlin, I found out about Bonanza or The Barn, so I went there all the time exploring carefully how it worked. I remember when a barista from Bonanza allowed me to make a cup of coffee, I thought: “Oh my God! How cool I am.” (Laughs).
So how did you learn?
I learnt by doing. I went through so many cups of coffee. Also there are lots of YouTube channels, books, articles. Internet is filled with the necessary content. For example Scott Rao, Tim Ferris or blogs such as Sprudge and Perfect Daily Grind. I also went to so many seminars, training workshops…
How did you decide to open your own place?
I’ve always loved the places where people can drink, eat and meet each other. I liked the concepts of bookshops, coffees shops or restaurants and I took notes all the time – I think I have over 20 notebooks at home. So I explored everything relating to this.
What is the history behind the Cafe Kraft?
First of all we got the location, and my business partner wanted to make a bar here. But I came, and I saw the window, the colors, and I thought that it had to be a coffee shop. I am a marketing guy, so I immediately started to think about the name, logo and the main character of it!
Kraft sounds like “hand-made” in English and means “power” in German. Why this name?
Lots of people think this is my surname, so they called me Mr Kraft (laughs). I wanted it to be a German name, and I really like the idea that this is something hand-made with power, and that it is easy to pronounce for everyone.
At the moment you opened there were lots of good coffee shops here in Berlin. What did you do to make people come to Cafe Kraft?
Before we opened, I did an intriguing local campaign. There is one Italian western-movies actor, Bat Spencer, who is well-known here in Germany, and once he said: “Stay strong – drink Kraft,” so we hung over 200 black&white posters with our logo and this quote. We wanted to draw people’s attention, something new was coming to the neighbourhood. There wasn’t any online marketing or big campaigns, people should know that this coffee shop is not ruled by a big company, it is a very “dude place.”
What do you feel sets your café apart from the others right now?
Of course we have a very high-quality product, as many coffee shops do, but also we try to focus on the staff. I don’t want assholes or snobby people here. In Cafe Kraft people must be friendly, someone you can hang out with.
Which mistakes have you made while working on the opening the cafe?
We tried to save our money – that’s the biggest mistake. For example, we bought a very good coffee machine but not the best, and later I understood that was not what I wanted, and we had to buy a new really cool one that is still here. If you want to make something really good, don’t try to save your money.
If you were a customer at your own café, what would you order from the menu?
I would like to ask for an espresso and our moisty vegan banana bread. My second drink would be filter coffee, but I also drink flat white or cappuccino because 90% of the customers go for coffee with milk, so as an owner it’s important to understand how coffee with milk tastes.
If you met someone who’d never ever drunk coffee, which coffee would you made for them?
I would think about two options. The first one is cappuccino, as you still have the coffee taste with a little bit of milk, and the second one is filter coffee because we have a very good one, roasted and fruity. But I highly advise not to add sugar, because it will be absolutely different.
Do you think the coffee industry is kind of “art” nowadays?
I am not sure if it is art, it is more like a craftsmanship. For example, if you are a woodworker you also could be an artist, so the same goes for coffee industry: some coffee-guys become artists, but the majority are like craftsmen.
What’s the thing you like the most about your job?
People. I’ve met so many cool people in this industry. I like people the most.