Opening a New Coffee Business During COVID-19: Denmark

April Coffee Roasters founder Patrik Rolf discusses the process of opening the roastery’s first ‘coffee store’ during the pandemic.


Cover photo courtesy of Patrik Rolf

Patrik Rolf doesn’t like to sit around. The 2019 World Brewers Cup runner-up, founder of Copenhagen, Denmark’s April Coffee Roasters, and inventor of the April Pour Over Brewer generally has multiple projects going at any time to keep himself busy. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Patrik found himself unable to perform his juggling routine, and with unexpected free time on his hands.

Patrik at the 2019 World Brewers Cup in Boston. Photo by Shaunté Glover for World Coffee Events.

That didn’t last long, however: Patrik soon channeled his energy into the April Coffee Store, a retail shop featuring April Coffee Roasters products—beans, capsules, cold brew, drip packs, and the April brewing kit—alongside a sample area serving coffee drinks, as well as an office space for the April Coffee Roasters team. “Rather than sitting at home watching Netflix, we started to work on the new store,” Patrik says.

April Coffee Store opened its doors on June 14, but the journey to its opening started in the early days of the pandemic, when Denmark went on lockdown and closed its borders to international travelers, immediately affecting businesses—including April. “The impact on April has been lower production volumes,” Patrik says. “We have been down to numbers similar to what we had two years ago, and it seems it will continue that way for the remaining part of this year.”

April’s numbers have been down, but Patrik says he decided not to take any government support or lay off any of the April team, though it means the business likely won’t make a profit this year. “But we are doing fine,” Patrik says, “and it’s more important that our team has something to do and can keep their jobs than us living up to our financial numbers for 2020.”

The April Coffee Store is a showcase for beans and other products from April Coffee Roasters. Photo courtesy of Patrik Rolf.

Keeping the team employed meant Patrik had staff to help him take on the project of opening the April Coffee Store. While he was on the lookout for office space before the pandemic hit, COVID-19 caused him to speed up that pursuit, and to add in a revenue-generating aspect. “It’s clear that the amount of coffee brewed at home has increased, and we never had a physical store where the people of Copenhagen could come and buy our products,” Patrik says.

He adds that opening the store wasn’t just about keeping himself and his staff busy, but also about giving back to their community in Copenhagen. “We knew people wouldn’t travel as much, but instead explore their own city and countries,” Patrik says. “Above all else it is about always turning your challenges into something positive and staying creative.”

Soon after starting the hunt for office space, Patrik discovered a location at Ryesgade 86, 2100 København, that met their needs—it’s a “destination shop” in that you won’t find it unless you’re looking for it, but it’s also easy to get to, sitting in central Copenhagen. “The location is small and intimate, with large windows out toward the street giving it a ‘store feel,’” Patrik says. April Coffee Roasters teamed with Copenhagen-based House of Finn Juhl to outfit the interior of the store, and turned to local business Andersen-Andersen for work attire, ensuring the April team represents a consistent visual look when working at the store. “The idea was to create a place that represented Copenhagen quality,” he says.

Patrik says he sees the store as a success so far—people in the community have visited, though Copenhagen is still less crowded than usual, with a much reduced number of tourists, and many Danes just returning from their summer houses. The store isn’t built for large volumes of visitors, though—there are five seats inside and another six outside, and people must stay at least one meter apart.

While Patrik has used the pandemic-induced quarantine time to launch the April Coffee Store, he sees the new location as being geared to serve Copenhagen residents and visitors for the long-term. “The locals are returning to the city, and work and school have started,” he says. “Now it’s about finding a sustainable way to live together with COVID-19. … But we are lucky to have a strong population that wants to support small companies.”

About Chris Ryan 261 Articles
Chris Ryan (he/him) is Barista Magazine's online copy editor and a freelance writer and editor with a background in the specialty coffee industry. He has been content director of Sustainable Harvest and the editor of Fresh Cup Magazine.