Amsterdam Business Spotlight – Good Beans & Fucking Strong Coffee – haarlemmerstraat

Good Beans is a cafe and creative space tucked behind the hustle of Haarlemmerstraat. Started by a duo of gritty and welcoming entrepreneurs that love what they sell, Good Beans has quickly become an active part of the Amsterdam small business community, showcasing and heralding the craftsmanship of plenty of other Amsterdam creatives from within the confines of there cosy cafe.

What they sell is ‘Fucking Strong Coffee’. FSC is the Good Beans “in-house” coffee brand, a cornerstone product that reflects the quality and character of Good Beans, as it comprises of 100% ethically sourced honey washed coffee from Rwanda .

We caught up with Cody, the co-founder or Good Beans & Fucking Strong Coffee to find out more about the cafes history and how we can support independant Amsterdam businesses in this complex time.

This is a 2&6 Interview with: Good Beans

Firstly it’s obviously been an immensely shitty year for Amsterdam and the world in general. How have the events of 2020 been for you and good beans? 

Besides the ever-present uncertainty… the year has actually been bizarrely special for us. 

Photos Courtesy of Good Beans

In some ways, we’ve been lucky: our concept and space made pivoting to takeaway relatively painless, and we’re in a neighborhood that remained vibrant (especially on weekends) despite commuters staying at home and tourist numbers dwindling.

In other ways, we’ve been nimble and quick-to-adapt: we used the extra time to sharpen our branding and finish some badly needed design projects, we released two special editions to help expand our growing base of customers brewing coffee at home, and we shifted our wholesale focus into retail as opposed to offices/event spaces.

Overall, the year’s taught us about ourselves and our brand and reminded us why the fuck we run a little neighborhood café in the first place: to make people’s days a bit better and to connect good producers to customers who care about good shit.

What can we do as consumers to help independent businesses such as yours around Amsterdam during this time?

First, be sensitive to what businesses are going through on a very concrete level, not just abstractly — so many entrepreneurs are operating out of their comfort zone under immense personal pressure, and good consumers are the ones who both support them and recognize how difficult it must be. Be patient, be curious, be warm in your interactions. And, for fuck’s sake, just wait in line for a couple of minutes.

Second, don’t get lazy. In a city with the access to such a bounty of goods and services as Amsterdam, it’s very easy to get complacent. Don’t go to a Coffee Company because you see it on the corner — look up what independent café may be around. Don’t get bread on your Albert Heijn or Marqt run — walk down the street to a small bakery. It’s not just the extra effort itself, it’s being conscious of when to exert it. And on and on.

And third, be a “hype guy” for your favorite places. If you find a spot or try a new concept or have a particularly tasty bottle of wine — fucking tell people about it. Post it on your social media, or send it in a WhatsApp group, or bring a friend back for another visit. You can’t personally support every small business you’d like through this time, but you can certainly multiply and amplify your effect.

How long has Good beans been operating in Amsterdam?

In roughly its current café/bean shop form, we’ve been fully up-and-running since the start of 2019. Although, the space existed in different iterations for a year or so before that.

Your ‘its coffee not caviar’ approach to coffee aims to make coffee approachable, but how did you first become immersed in the world of coffee yourself?

Really quite randomly. I ran a Catering company and worked in student cafés in University, which introduced me to the world of gritty small business and laid back café culture. But I’d only experienced specialty coffee as a curious consumer before I found myself in the midst of it. That randomness probably helped shape how Good Beans eventually developed.

A big reason we are fans of Good beans (aside form the great coffee) is that the store also operates as an art space for local creators. Who has displayed their work at Goodbeans so far and how can artists get in touch if they wish to show their work with you guys? 

In the glory days when we used to host humans in our little shop, we decided to use our walls as an expression space for those in or around our immediate small community. We hosted four exhibits:

Analogue Collage works from Kiwii Kaleidoscopes

Hand Lino-cuts prints from Sophie Lewisohn 

Film photography from Alex Araque and Fillipo Fagnoni

Fucking Strong Coffee is the “in-house” coffee brand, how did this part of the business evolve and what is it about this coffee that you guys enjoy?

Fucking Strong Coffee is our own “in-house” brand that we started growing when we first took over the space back at the end of 2018. It started as basically just a funny name that the original owner of the space (who ran a little clothes / tea and coffee equipment shop) had put on a jar of coffee, and we saw it, ran with it, and developed it into a full-on specialty bean brand.

The idea is basically this: “third-wave” specialty coffee has done wonders for quality, experience, sourcing, relationships, etc etc. But we’ve lost the plot when it comes to how we brand and talk about ourselves. And it turns people off.  Instead of leaning into the minimalist design and “fine wine-ification” of specialty coffee, we turned this on its head. Our sourcing, traceability, and quality is “specialty,” but we take ourselves less seriously and make our product and our mission more approachable. In a pithy catchphrase: it’s coffee, not caviar, friends!

Lastly, Do you guys have any favourite other Amsterdam brands or local stores that you recommend we check out?

Fuckin’ tons, mate!

Concrete Matter and Lucille for curated vintage.

Benelux Wine Co. for a new take on local, sustainable wine.

Broodbakkerij Ex. for the best sourdough in the city. (woman-owned)

Summer Friday for cookies. (woman-owned)

Small World Catering for the best sandwiches in Amsterdam.

Planthood for houseplants and advice. (woman-owned)

Super Soda for fucking delicious ginger beer.

Butcher’s Tears for beer. (woman-owned)

Cafe Remouillage for a special occasion.

Kip it Real for indulgent takeout.

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