Lisa Rooimans & Paul van Duuren | Sweet Cup
The little gem
joined Amsterdam's specialty coffee scene, or revolution you might say,
earlier this year. Lisa Rooimans and Paul van Duuren are the couple behind Sweet Cup, a hole in the wall meets laid-back living room speciality coffee shop behind the craze of the
Leidseplein. Having dreamed of having their own place for a while, they opened their doors, with their adorable pup Sjefke, in May. You'll now finding them roasting their own beans,
serving delicious flat whites with some of the best latte art I've seen in town, and dishing up red velvet cupcakes and classic Dutch apple pie. Definitely worth stopping by, even just
to escape the craziness surrounding Leidseplein (and for the smell of roasting coffee beans)!
Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Paul has been working in restaurants and catering since he was 14 years old – and he’s done just about everything. He then traveled to the US and on his return, found a job at MobiCcino, a company that arranges coffee bars and baristas at festivals and events. That’s where we met. Lisa had also worked in restaurants, and was interested in learning more about wine but ended up at MobiCcino. Paul continued on to work for Screaming Beans (Hartenstraat 12), where he was really introduced to coffee and coffee-making, and Coffee Bru (Beukenplein 14). Lisa took a step out in the art world, but always knew she wanted to start something for herself.
What inspired you to start Sweet Cup?
Coffee is our passion. We wanted to create a place where customers could receive personal attention. When we found a way to start our own place, we jumped on it. And it went really quickly.
Can you tell us more about owning your own coffee place?
We did it everything on an extremely low budget from the renovations to the branding. When you have a small budget you have to be creative. You really have to be driven to make it a success and that was really true in our case. When thinking about a name, we were actually on a completely different track – Wild Roaster – but Lisa thought it sounded to tough. Paul came up with the name, Sweet Cup , which is actually an English term for a really sweet cup of coffee. And since Lisa bakes cupcakes, cakes, cookies and other sweet treats, it was perfect.
What makes us different than a lot of cafes or restaurants that serve coffee is that we roast our own beans. What this means is that we select green beans from several importers. We roast small amounts at a time, allowing us to cater to those we prefer filtered coffee (a bag is about 250g) and consistently deliver fresh coffee. Roasting our own beans allows us to offer a selection of different coffees that we like ourselves, in a varied price range.
Would you say that the city of Amsterdam inspires you?
We actually think that starting something in Amsterdam is very difficult. Like we said, we got lucky. We have noticed though, that more and more people want to work for themselves. People have their own ideas and want to work those out. I have friends in other fields of work who, when they heard we were starting our own coffee place, said, “If you can do it, I can too!” It’s almost like something you pass on. It seems very unattainable until you see someone else do it. You don't need very much to start a small business today. The Internet has also made it a lot easier.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Lisa gets up at around 7.30am during the week and 9am in the weekend, while Paul and Sjef stay in bed a little longer – Sjefke doesn’t like getting up early. Lisa gets things started at Sweet Cup and Paul and Sjef show up a little later. People come and go and at the end of the day, we close up and head back home. It’s not that exciting!
Can you name a few of your favorite places in Amsterdam?
Let’s see… Small World Catering (Binnen Oranjestraat 14) is one of our favorites, as is Gartine (Taksteeg 7). But we work seven days a week, 13 hours a day… So we don’t make it out very much. Sometimes colleagues drop by for a cup of coffee, or we go to Coffee Bru – they sell our coffees and we sell their teas. But it’s always after work and we’re often tired of our long days. But we do participate in the Koffieomfietskaart and that’s been really fun. We send customers to the other coffee places listed on the card. Every place has a different philosophy but that’s what makes coffee so fun. It’s mostly young people working in the Amsterdam coffee scene so it’s interesting to share knowledge and our tips. You often find that baristas work at one coffee place but live closer to another, so we’re always running into each other.
What's next for you?
Paul has a plan for the future – he wants to own his own micro-lot, a small plot of land for growing coffee beans. If you own a micro-lot, you can determine what to grow there and what happens during the growing process. Even once the beans are harvested, there’s still a lot you can do with them. That’s definitely a dream. But right now we’re busy setting up a website and a webshop. We’ve had a lot of international customers who have asked, “Can I buy your coffee online?” We hope to get there, but we’re focusing on the Netherlands right now. We also want to give workshops, like coffee roasting workshops (we're organising one today with Alex Kitain of The Coffeevine ) or latte art classes. We’ve only been here a few months… We’ll see how it goes!
Thanks Lisa and Paul for this interview! Drop by for a coffee from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 6.30pm, Saturday from 9.00am to 6.30pm, and Sunday from 11.00am to 6pm, on the Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 101.