– Author Ivar Laanen –
On an unassuming boulevard, just a stone’s throw away from the Coolhaven metro station lies Evermore, the antidote to the lifestyles of the laptop café. Here, coffee isn’t seen as fuel for ‘plugged-in’ productivity-driven individuals. There is no wi-fi code scribbled on a chalkboard in plain sight. There are no eager baristas giddily awaiting you to order their only blend of coffee.
Evermore is a space owned and created by Ian Pieters and Eline Sandberg and their 2 sons ( 23 and 21 years old) that effectively does away with all that has become synonymous with the modern café. It was not born as a business idea, but rather, came to be through a couple’s hobby that ran completely out of hand. Eline had a love for specialty teas. Ian had the same for coffee. And both traveled the world in search of the finest in both categories before Evermore was ever conceived. Not until their home was littered all over with coffee and tea did they decide to bring their passion into a proper setting open to the public.
A glance at the façade of Evermore doesn’t give off the impression that it plays host to hundreds of different varieties of sustainably sourced tea, coffee, and chocolate from all over the world. Considering that Evermore sits beside a weight-lifting gym and a row of auto-repair shops, you would be forgiven for passing by without realizing that a complete art studio, industrial kitchen, and setting for drinking brewed beverages that feels more like an author’s living room than a typical café exists behind the garage door that marks the front of the place. If it weren’t for the outline of a great, black raven superimposed on the garage door, you may not notice the place at all.
As I slip through the steel door of Evermore, I see Ian talking to another coffee enthusiast besides the pristine industrial-grade coffee roaster that sits prominently in the middle of the space. The black rounded tables scattered around the space all have long black candles flickering minimally upon them, and the wall directly in front of the counter is lined with provocative theatre photography taken by a local that brings color to an otherwise achromatic setting.
Behind the counter, I see canisters upon canisters of different coffee from places like Papua New Guinea and Nicaragua, so I narrow my options by asking what’s new in-house. Eline suggests a slow pour coffee from Tanzania that she had enjoyed earlier that morning. I elect for that, and Eline places a glass below a wooden stand that holds a filter of the Tanzanian grounds. In slow, meticulous intervals, she pours the steaming water out of a pot with a long curved trunk and into the filter. Watching the droplets fall slowly from the filter into the porcelain cup, I am reminded that Evermore’s approach to coffee is not for the hurried.
One of the pleasurable feelings that comes with enjoying any of Evermore’s high quality products is knowing that nearly everything they have to offer is grown organically, traded fairly, and some of it is even transported sustainably by sailing vessel.
“The mantra we founded Evermore on was ‘Make taste, not waste,’” Eline told me, pointing towards a sign on the wall with those exact words. “We’re not trying to add to the mountain of garbage in the world. If we could get everything brought to us on a sailboat here, we would.”
If you ask anyone to think of tea, the image that will most likely appear in their head is of a tea bag sinking into boiling water. At Evermore, tea is sourced without any tea bags or packaging of that sort, one of the many ways Eline and Ian avoid unnecessary environmental costs and show their genuine love for their products. So much so is the love they have for their goods that they may not sell something if it isn’t enjoyed the way it ought to be.
As I slowly enjoyed my Tanzanian brew, which was perhaps the most citrusy coffee I’ve ever had, a man stumbled through the door asking for a decaf cappuccino to go. Ian’s expression was priceless. He admitted, yes, he could make one using some old decaf beans that he stopped buying, but what’s the point? A decaf cappuccino on the go? Why drink coffee if it’s decaf? It defeats the whole purpose of coffee, plus the process of making coffee decaf requires chemicals that ruin the taste.
Acting as the worst salesman, he dissuaded the man from having a decaf cappuccino and the man left the shop looking confused.
“I’m not going to make a decaf cappuccino to go,” Ian said, unable to hold his laughter. “At that point, why wouldn’t you just order some tea.”
My cup was nearing empty when I noticed the raven that guards the front door was also printed on the cup. Asking Ian about it, he explained how Eline drew inspiration to name the shop Evermore with the raven as their main symbol from an English teacher she once had who loved the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. In his deep, distinct tone, Pieters recited the first dark words of it.
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…”
He brought me a copy of “The Raven” as I sunk further into the brown leather couch by the door, and I picked up where Ian left off. The story goes from a dejected man who hears a “tapping” at his chamber door and hopes his lost lover has returned to him. Instead, he is visited by a raven who can only say one word: “Nevermore…”
To each question the man has, the raven responds the same.
“Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
After the tangy Tanzanian goodness in my cup ran dry and Poe’s sadistic poem was completed, I grabbed my coat, waved goodbye, and walked out the steel door. Stepping into the frigid Rotterdam air, I stopped to ask the raven on the door my own question.
“Tell me will I ever dare to drink bad coffee after the wonderful taste of Evermore”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Also check out The Coffee Project #1 video here.
– Ivar Laanen