July 2, 2013
The story starts in spring 2010 when I met Eri at a mutual friends’ dinner in Berlin-Wedding. She is a painter from Tokyo and she moved to Berlin with her husband 4 years ago. He got a scholarship for Berlin and she followed him. My name is Tose and I’m from Paris with Japanese roots. We became friends easily and each time we met, we would look for the perfect spot for relaxed and tasty meetings. I just arrived in Berlin by coincidence. During a year and a half, my life was both in France and here. Then I decided to stay in Berlin as I met my boyfriend here. The friendship with Eri grew well as much as our passion for coffeeshops. Once, more like a challenge, we came up with the idea of having our own perfect shop. And from one day to another, in January 2012, we started to look for a joint.
Berlin offered us the opportunity to start a totally new profession from scratch. In fact, many parameters led up to this point. As foreigners, we have a certain kind of freedom. We don’t feel the burden of the social pressure of our country, of this country. Self-expats tend to be flexible enough to consider other careers. Here, I couldn’t work as a costume designer as I used to do in France. It took me years to get my network, my salary: in Berlin, there was no way I could get the same position. I had to reevaluate my possibilities if I wanted to make a living here. By meeting new people – Germans, other foreigners – who shared their experience, we opened-up our vision of our own lives. Actually, when I saw a young American running her own shop, I thought: if she can do it, I can too. It encourages you. That’s a great emulation I only found in Berlin so far. It took me a year to get used to Berlin though. To go to every neighborhood helped me to be part of the town. Like when you move into a new flat and need to clean every part of it. For both Eri and I, at first, Berlin looked very rough, covered in grafitti and very far from the idea of an European capital. We have to say that we both first arrived in Neukölln. Nothing to complain about it, but the gap between Tokyo and Berlin is quite something. I still live in this district not far from the Kanal and it makes me feel like living in a provincial city. In Berlin, everyday is sunday. I’m not a clubber so I don’t feel the heat of the night. But still, if I want, I can find this high level of wildness you can’t find anymore in Paris. Life is no more a rush or an argue.
Well until we opened our café! I mean for the rush part! Eri doesn’t have much time to paint anymore. It took a year from zero to the day of the opening. A friend told us this Mark Twain’s quote: “They didn’t know it was impossible, so they did it”. It was exactly that feeling – and we would jump every obstacle (lack of experience, paperwork, issues with landlord, administration, renovation, german language!), having only one goal: to open the coffeeshop. Fortunately, on our way we found support from friends’ advices, the Coffee Circle team (our formidable organic coffee provider!), father substitute, our men’s patience…
When we opened, we couldn’t believe it was real. To us, it was still a floating idea in our brain. It took me several months to really enjoy it as our creation. Initially, we had no idea where the café would bring us besides being happy to bake and make coffee in our own nest. Eri told me she feels home in Berlin since we opened. Same for me. And the thing we absolutely didn’t expected: meeting people! I know, this sounds strange as we would run a public space, but truly, our biggest satisfaction lies in the fact that our customers are awesome. People we work with. Yes, we’re making new friends here. Since a few months, I realize, Berlin is kind of the place to be. So much youth, passion, energy, a will to be different, quality of live, it’s Europe’s eldorado. And I feel lucky to be here, because at first, I didn’t really choose Berlin for being Berlin.