Ljubljana, 12. 3. 2017 – Because specialty coffee is a must at our food tours, I was eager to get to know the new coffee man in Ljubljana, Alex Niño Ruiz from Črno zrno (Black bean – but you have to admit it sounds more awesome in Slovenian). First mentioned in my Instagram feed November 3rd 2016, he already announced to soon open his very own shop in Gornji trg. As per usual, the renovation took longer than expected, so in the meantime I bothered him with the same question when is he going to open at the annual December brunch at id:doma and later at my event NJAMboljši. Finally, the place of Ljubljana coffee culture is ready! So enjoy some snaps (taken before the official opening) and my interview with Alex, the smiling Colombian architect turned coffee geek. Gornji trg is (now even more) awesome!

Alex will be more than happy to see you and sell you best Colombian specialty coffee.

What makes Colombian coffee different from others?

Colombia being the largest only-arabica coffee producer in the world is already inside of most of the famous coffee blends sold in Europe such as Illy. (Brazil and Vietnam produce more coffee than Colombia but they also produce robusta coffee). In 2007, the EU granted Colombian coffee a protected designation of origin status. In 2011 UNESCO declared the “Coffee Cultural Landscape” of Colombia a World Heritage site. Since the creation of “Juan Valdez”in 1958, and the constant promotion of “100% Colombian Grown Coffee” Colombians have always stood apart in the minds of consumers across the world. The classic Colombian profile brings together a mellow acidity and a strong caramel sweetness, perhaps with a nutty undertone. However, what is less know is that the “classic Colombian profile” comes from the blend of multiple farms from the Colombian coffee growing axis region (Quindio, Risaralda, Caldas). This creates two problems, first there is no traceability of the farmers where this coffee is produced and high quality coffee is mixed with lower quality coffee, second, the market is leaving behind a huge range of flavours from other non-traditional coffee regions of Colombia (Antioquia, Narino, Tolima, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Huila, Cundinamarca, Santander, Sierra Nevada, Norte de Santander). When you explore the flavours of other regions of Colombian Coffee you can find from heavier, chocolaty coffees to jammy, sweet, fruity lots.

Small place, happy face. Architect’s touch – leaving the ceiling as it was (from 15th-ish century).

Oh wow, overwhelming. So how many kinds of coffee will you offer in your Ljubljana coffee shop?

For now I am offering 4 different coffee farms from 3 different regions of Colombia: one grown by Arhuak indigenous community in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Northest part of Colombia, a coffee with a very herbal profile; Another coffee, El Balcón, from Antioquia with a very citric and pronounced floral tones, and two coffee farms Diamante and Divisa from Quindio region, with a nice caramel and nutty notes. At the end of April I will add 2 more coffee farms from Nariño, the Southern part of Colombia, and Huila to the collection. The goal of ČRNO ZRNO is to discover and bring to Slovenia coffees from farmers of all of the 12 coffee regions of Colombia.

Oh, the tiles. And mean Colombian espresso.

Sounds ambitious. Will there be just beans or also coffee drinks?

The shop will represent the product of Colombian coffee farmers. We will sell roasted coffee beans as well as different coffee preparations such as espresso, pour over, and cold brew drinks. If there will be roasters of other countries around Slovenia interested in our coffee, we will be able to sell green beans as well.  

Coffee on coffee.

Where do you buy coffee and who roasts it now?

ČRNO ZRNO is a direct link between the farmers and the coffee drinkers in Ljubljana. Most of my coffees are purchased in Salento, Quindio from a coffee grower and roaster. He roasts coffees from the farm of his grandfather and sources coffee from farmers of the central and northern part of Colombia. It is unconventional to have someone that grows coffee and also roast it in origin, but for me it is important that we can do quality control in Colombia. Most of the specialty coffee roasters in North America, Europe and Oceania receive samples of green coffee in their countries and then order through an intermediary. For coffees from the South of Colombia I started a relationship with a company that developed an educational program with coffee farmers to produce high quality coffee. I went to Colombia in September 2016 and cupped amazing coffees. All of the beans I buy I try in my own country and then order them for ČRNO ZRNO. I have direct contact with the coffee producer, this way I can inform him about our – and of course our roaster’s – impressions about their coffee. Our roaster in Slovenia is Aleš Turšič from STOW coffee roasters.

Yeah, he organised the first STOW coffee festival in Ljubljana. Ok, tell me also a bit more about Dipacho – the author of your packaging design?

Dipacho is a well known illustrator of books for kids in Colombia, he received the Ibby award in 2013 (The International Board on Books for Young People) as well as recognitions and awards in Venezuela, Korea and Germany. He developed the illustrations for ČRNO ZRNO coffee and will come to the opening week of the coffee shop in Gornji Trg – this week from 13th to 17th of March.

Alex’s new place – you’re welcome!

Thanks for reading!

If you crave some more delicious experiences, come join our food tours! Or buy our super informative, mobile-friendly and helpful foodie e-guide. Also, if you need help with your travel planning to Ljubljana and/or Slovenia, do not hesitate to contact us as we do also offer these services. Cheers from the yummy side of the Alps!