Where caffeine hungry cavemen go to come out looking hot
When I recently interviewed good old Florian Hessel of Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters for my new “Barista” section, I asked him what his prediction for the local specialty coffee scene in Amsterdam was for the coming six months. His response was: “I think there will be at least one more successful concept entering the stage. What that will be I don’t know.” I also wondered what it might be and I was obviously excited to find out.
Not long after I published the interview, I got an email from a certain Tom Sadd, who together with his old buddy Jimmy Reichwein decided to leave New Zealand behind to start a new business in Amsterdam. Tom gave me a relatively detailed description of their concept and invited me to come in to “have a yarn over a cup of coffee” and see if I liked the place enough to put it on The Coffeevine. Although my blog is of course only about places that I personally really like, I greatly appreciate it when people take the time to write to me since I often struggle to keep up with this exploding specialty coffee scene in my beloved home city.
I gladly accepted Tom’s invitation and indicated I might even be keen to have a shave, just to get the full experience, you know?
- It was a beautiful sunny morning when I ventured down the infamous Warmoesstraat where I first lived after moving to Amsterdam more than 6 years ago. It still baffles me how this grimy and in-your-face street has managed to slowly transform itself from an area that I made an effort to avoid after leaving the center in my second year. Where uninviting sex shops, overpriced tourist bars and minging food outlets used to dominate the scene, there is now a plethora of nice eateries, cute delis and the odd funky shop. I guess it will still take some time before it becomes totally hipster but it’s certainly less daunting than when I used to find vomit and the occasional turd on my doorstep.
- At first I couldn’t quite make out where Cut Throat was because I stupidly hadn’t checked the house number but after cycling down the entire street I eventually spotted the red and white tube that indicates a barber shop and the inconspicuous looking coffee sign that you’d easily miss if you’re not actually looking up.
- The boys + Tom’s girlfriend Kiara were busy making coffees and attending to a young man who was getting his face shaved when I walked him. “Alex! How ye going bro?” Tom asked with a big friendly smile. “I’m rather good mate. Almost couldn’t find you guys but wow, look at this awesome little place!” I immediately fell in love with it!
Tom and Jimmy hail from Christchurch, the southern Kiwi city that was flattened in a terrible earthquake in 2011. Although the city has been going through an amazing transformation since, the boys both got bored with post-quake Christchurch and were keen to start something of their own. Jimmy was already spending quite a bit of time in Holland, partially due to his Dutch roots, and Tom and his girlfriend were enchanted by Amsterdam when they came here recently. Luckily, Jimmy had already found the right place for Cut Throat and the rest was more of a formality than a chore.
Although neither Tom nor Jimmy have much of a Barista history to speak of, the concept seems really great. They’re not quite as radical as other barber shops that don’t allow girls inside, but rather welcome anyone in with that typical Kiwi hospitality that I really miss here sometimes. The decor is simple yet functional. The gorgeous vintage barber chairs hail from Spain and there’s even an old-school Street Fighter game console that I adored as a teenager. Of course I immediately challenged Jimmy to a quick fight and despite struggling to remember the combos for my character I only narrowly lost to Ken’s “shoryuken!”
The coffee they serve is typical for a small Espresso bar. There’s no slow coffee on the menu, only Espresso based drinks. The Espresso blend on the grinder is provided by De Wasserette, which has created its own special blend together with a local small batch roaster. Truth be told, Tom will still have to do some catching up to match the skills of other Baristas in this town but my Flat White was pretty good for a business that’s only been open for about a month.
What I like about Cut Throat is that they were not afraid to enter a part of town that is usually packed with drunk backpackers and busloads of package tourists who are coming in to see the ladies in the windows. As Tom said during our chat: “There’s also a lot of people living and working around here and they’ve welcomed us with open arms. Especially the local Kiwi and Aussie population seems to have quickly gotten wind of us and are helping us to spread the word. It’s really awesome.”
Tom getting busy behind the La Marzocco
Despite finding my name on the “next victim board”, I didn’t end up having the shave I hinted at wanting. I don’t like stubble. It itches too much, therefore I got rid of it a few days before. None the less I am planning on putting Jimmy’s skills to the test in due course. However, going back to my introductory quote by Florian Hessel, this might just be the next concept that successfully establishes itself in the local specialty coffee scene. Only time will tell but for what it’s worth, it definitely has the potential to be really awesome.