Earlier this year we were at a cupping at Istanbul’s Arabica Trading House when a colorful coffee bag caught our eye. It turned out to be the first production roast from KungPow Coffee, a collaboration between South African expat Warrick Masfen and Istanbul native Suzi Erit. After finding out we liked the contents just as much as the Aqua Teen Hunger Force-esque label, we reached out to learn a little bit more about the brand.
So, tell us about KungPow Coffee. What’s your origin story?
The idea has been around for some time now– basically since Warrick started working in the coffee industry, and then we got to the point where we asked ourselves would we rather be the head of a chicken or the tail of the bull. With the morale boost from the win at the 2019 SCA Turkey roasting championship, we set into motion our plan, to build a transparent coffee roasting company with competitive prices all while adopting a more fun and colorful vibe.
As a couple, you have both are insider and outside perspective on the Istanbul coffee scene. Do you think sets your brand apart?
Suzi: Yes indeed, the purpose of creating our brand was to bring a radical point of view to the coffee scene that reflects both of our personalities. We have a 2 steps process for our coffee, first is to catch the eye of the public with our creative and quirky package design and second to wow them with that they find inside. We choose green beans that most roasters tend to look away from as they feel it won’t work in the market be it due to price or flavor profile, we believe this risk tasking approach helps set us apart, we also always try to have 3 different processes available, that way we have something for everyone.
How would you describe your approach to roasting?
Warrick: Burn baby, Burn (laughs). Ok, so from the cupping table we look at the fundamental flavor elements of the bean: acidity, body, sweetness, and aftertaste. From there we look at the physical qualities of the bean being size, density, moisture percentage and ambient green bean temperature.
A turning point in my roasting career was when I started to look at each individual bean as a micro-reactor. and then we look at the condition of our roasting environment once all that has been noted down, We then plan out how We want the profile to look like graphically and what kind of ratios we want to achieve to best highlight that bean characteristics. We lean towards the scientific approach of coffee roasting.
We love your bag design. It’s fun and playful, and frankly refreshing in an industry that tends to take itself very seriously. What was the inspiration there?
Warrick: Well the name I came up with when I first got into the coffee industry, I remember looking around at all the baristas and roasters and thinking to myself why so serious, at that moment I remembered a movie called Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, like seriously if you have not watched it do yourself a favor. Anyway, yeah that’s what lead to the name KungPow Coffee.
Suzi: when we sat down to brainstorm for ideas of the design and feel of the company, we kept coming back to 50s, 60s, 70s comic books and that feeling of nostalgia, we wanted it to be fun and quirky so I convinced Warrick that his character should be a bear as I felt this best represented him. Yes– we are working on a series of characters that we will be introducing as we progress.
Think we’ll ever see a Kung Pow cafe?
Yes, that is on the to-do list, but whether or not it’s in Istanbul or even Turkey for that matter, only time will tell.