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The Best of Berlin in September

The Local · 20 Sep 2011, 07:00

Published: 20 Sep 2011 07:00 GMT+02:00

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American roast

The phrase “American-style coffee” doesn’t usually get Europeans excited, but Massachusetts-native Kris Schackman has boldly set out to change this. On a romantic vacation to New York 18 months ago, Kris brought Sophie Weingensamer to his favourite Brooklyn coffee roaster. Originally from coffee- centric Vienna, Sophie was blown away. Less than a year later on a chilly December day in 2010, Five Elephant was born just south of Görlitzer Park. In keeping with the new American style pioneered by his mentor Steve Rao (author of the barista’s bible “Everything but Espresso”), Kris keeps his roasts light to emphasize the quality of the beans. He sources coffee directly from the African farmers who grow it – a policy he says gives him increased control over bean quality and at the same time puts more money in the hands of the farmers themselves. The shop’s most popular brews remain the Euro- typical espresso drinks (from €1.20), but if you’re ready to give your taste buds a superior kick, you should definitely try their filter coffee (€2.80-3.80), which uses the best brewing method to bring out the specific flavours of each bean from Kris’ house selection of roasts. From her bustling kitchen in the back of the café, Sophie churns out tray after tray of delicious baked goodies – from the succulent cheesecake (Kris’ grandma’s recipe) to delicious apple or chocolate delights – which Five Elephant currently sells to a dozen cafés around Berlin. Convincing Europeans that Americans can do something right can be difficult, but Kris and Sophie make a persuasive argument.

FIVE ELEPHANT| Reichenberger Str. 101, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Görlitzer Bahnhof

Social net artwork

When you want to find someone to fix your sink, you know to call a plumber. Even in Germany, land of overcomplication, this undertaking is fairly straightforward. But what if you need someone to design the set for your post-BDSM modernist performance exhibit? Unless you already have contacts here, it can be hard to know where to start. Enter Júlia Marí Bernaus and her three business partners (another Catalonian and two Scots). Over the past year, they raised Artconnect Berlin from just a little baby blog to a full-grown app, and on August 1 released it into the wild. Artconnect Berlin is an English-language social networking website designed to bring Berlin artists of all nationalities together in a place where they can share ideas, plan projects and make new connections. It’s a mix of the new and the familiar – a user’s main page doubles as a live-updated portfolio of his projects and collaborations. At the time of writing, the site remains a little rough around the edges, but new features are added weekly, and the member base is quickly growing in all directions. Need a pornographic portrait painted? Artconnect’s got someone for that. Need a 16th-Century painting restored? They’ve got someone for that too. Berliner artists like Reynold Reynolds and Matthias Planitzer are already active members. The notorious Peaches hasn’t gone quite that far, but she graciously distinguished the launch party with her televised presence. Do Júlia’s ambitions reach beyond the German capital? “It’s about Berlin right now. Maybe – maybe after we’ve conquered Berlin, we’ll think about other cities.”

ARTCONNECT BERLIN|www.artconnectberlin.com

Scandi candy

You’ll get a sugar high by just stepping into this colourful pick-and-mix candy shop on Wühlischstraße – the 111 Nordic specialities on offer include marshmallow mushrooms, butter beans and salty liquorice skulls that would go great with a black metal soundtrack.

HERR NILSSONS GODIS| Wühlischstr. 58, Friedrichshain, S-Bhf Ostkreuz, €1.60/100g, Mon-Fri 12-20, Sat 13-18

Story continues below…

Rickshaw reloaded

The three-wheeled auto-rickshaw, or tuk-tuk, has long been delighting westerners in Asian countries like India and Thailand. Now Berlin’s Öko-hippy visitors (and residents) can get a taste of the Far East without mucking up their carbon footprint by taking a sightseeing ride on one of the world’s first fully electric, marvellously sustainable tuk-tuks. Started in March by American-German duo Adam Rice and Wolfgang Knörr, Etuktuk currently offers 75-minute tours for up to five people per vehicle along an attraction-rich route through the city. Operating until the end of October, the company offers heated blankets and glasses of Glühwein to warm up sightseers on colder days. Though the original motorised rickshaw is infamous for being dirty, loud, smelly and environmentally lethal, its electric counterpart is quiet, comfortable and eco-friendly. But don’t take our word for it: as long as you’re a driver’s license holder and willing to partake in a 15 minute “driving clinic,” you can get behind the wheel yourself… just beware of taxis who can’t hear you coming!

ETUKTUK| Zimmerstr. in Mitte near Checkpoint Charlie, 4-5 passengers, €25/pp; 2-3 passengers, €30/pp; 1 passenger, €60; Kids 12 & under, €10; Wed-Sun, www.etuktuk.de

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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