Dots Café wasn’t really hard to find. You can easily identify the place by the dots on the walls… dots that I thought were put there because of the café’s name.
“Actually, we kept this old graffiti while we were renovating the whole space, that’s why we called it Dots. But, unfortunately, the building administrator wants to renovate the house and maybe they’ll be erased. We are going to try to fight for it. Hope it works!”
I met owner, Mesut, for a chat. The newly-opened café is managed by him together with Corinna and another friend of the couple, Vicky.
“Let’s say we are totally new to this scene, and we are very happy about how it’s evolving and how we got here. We’ve been having a lot of good feedback – people like the food, the place… and everything we do here is by ourselves. Literally, even the building renovation – it took us 5 months and was quite a lot of work!”
I was impressed by how Dots was full on a Thursday morning. Located on Weserstrasse, the rush was more like Alexanderplatz.
“Oh, I asked you to come on Thursday because it is our smoothest day! Here on the weekends it’s completely packed. If you are coming with many people, maybe it’s better to book a table (I laughed) – seriously!”
Mesut went on telling me how they came up with the idea of having the café, especially in a city where there are so many.
“When I met Corina she was selling ham and cheese behind a counter at an organic fair. I was talking so much and she finally said ‘hey, I am working and don’t have time to talk, let’s meet for a beer later’ and that’s how we met.
“At the beginning when we were going out, we went to so many cafés, tasting all different sorts of cakes and coffees. I’ve been particularly passionate about making coffee for years, I even had my own machine at home. We came to the conclusion that there are so many places here, and the city can definitely host another one or two. ”
The idea grew stronger, even though the three of them came from completely different areas, Mesut studied computer science and actually has an animation studio called Dyrdee, Corina is set to graduate in environmental landscapes, and Vicky is studying art management.
“After 10 years working with animation, I must say I spent too much time inside an office, in front of a computer. So now I found something to get out of the office again, talk to people and work more with my hands – this is what I really missed to be honest.”
Corina is not completely new to this gastronomy world, as she worked for many years in a fair trade organic company.
“Our menu is all organic. But we don’t make it so obvious at the moment because we thought people would realize it for themselves. Some people come in and say it is a bit pricey for what they get, but then they didn’t realize it is was organic.
And we also have other people who comes in and say it is far too cheap.
Though Dots is not a restaurant, they do have some warm dishes, like the cured salmon that Mesut told me is personally cured by Corina’s father.
“Some people just come back again for the salmon! The superfoods are also very popular, like the Chia pudding we have.”
As for the coffee, they get it from a small cooperative called Cafe Libertad, produced in Mexico with fair trade and organic cultivated beans.
“In the beginning we tried many coffees. There is one very famous from Berlin, but I wanted something different. We now have this Mexican coffee that comes from a small cooperative and it’s very tasty.
“At first it took me half an hour to adjust the machine, because it is not so easy when you have new beans, but, in the end, the coffee came out really good and people loved it.
“We always try to support regional and fair trades. Although, some things are just not possible to get here (like good mangoes), but we still buy them organic (laughs).
“So, in the end, everybody gets a fair charge and great coffee!”
Mesut also told me they are trying to get a certificate attesting that they serve only organic products, so people can clearly see what they do.
Being very nice and easy going, Mesut really likes the familiarity of the area (Neukölln), as he is part of the neighborhood himself, living down the street with Corina and their daughter.
With such a good connection with the people around, Dots also promotes some events, like a children’s book reading on the 21st of May by author Hanna Slak (of book Frau Maus Macht Paradies).
They also display art in their space, like the works from Malte Nies, photographer and friend of Mesut.
And for Neukölln Shopping Nacht they will also have something very different: a table tennis set right in the middle of the café.
“I thought: what could I do for the event? Since everyone is having drinks and music I will do something different, let’s have some playing here!”
Of course, Dots Café will also serve some alcoholic beverages and have music on, but be prepared to bring your table tennis bats!
Dots Café is at Weserstrasse, 191, Berlin Neukölln.
Images: Sarah Luisa Santos ( Mesut and entrance) and courtesy of Mesut