Episode 2: Nicolas Herlitz, Milch Halle
Recently, I got a chance to sit down with Nicolas Herlitz the owner of Milch Halle, and learned a little bit more about his shop, history in coffee and the challenges he has had over the years. This is his story.
The thing about Milch Halle, is that I took this job over, about seven years ago and I started here with experience in gastronomy but not in specialty coffee, I did my classes, did what I could to learn more. Eventually we opened a second shop on Weinbergsweg. It was a beautiful shop nice location in a nice neighbourhood. One day I came there, and found that the whole place was completely flooded, everything was destroyed. The roof had collapsed. I honestly started crying.
My girlfriend who is now my wife came and said to me, come on, stand up, get a coffee machine for outside, get some pallets, and sell coffee outside. And what was amazing is that the people came, and supported us. They saw us outside, even the people who would usually not come, they came and they supported us. They said hey, look at these guys, they never give up.
So, what I would say is, even when things are bad, don’t ever give up. Look for support from your friends, your family and even your customers. And when I see now, that we have Milch Halle here which is going really well, and 1.5 years ago we opened a second location at the Immobilien Scout offices for the workers there, and we now do coffee caterings, and now we are really close to opening another shop. On that day, I would have never imagined that this is where we are today, and because of the support of our family and friends, I am a happy man, with a happy family. Always think positive, count on your friends, family and customers.
I asked Nicolas how he organises the running of the shop with his wife, as I was impressed with how much team work they seem to have with the operation.
We do it together. I started with Milch Halle, and then I met her and then after she became part of it. She is good with the numbers, he said, and I’m the one with the coffee. She does the administration, the books, paying of the wages and so on, and how the shop looks, the aesthetics. I do the day to day, I work behind the bar, I check on our second location at Scout, I take care and manage the place. But now we have a baby, a few months ago, so now she’s a on the side-lines for a little bit.
When we started, the place was not running so well, I took it over from some friends, but what I love about this place is that from the beginning, we changed something small nearly every week. We changed things when we could, or more so when we wanted to. We always like to add a little bit more. And we have guests who have been coming every day through all these years and are with us and can see these changes as things get better and improved.
It was really nice to meet with Nicolas, who is a friendly guy and an incredibly passionate person about his business, his friends and family and about Berlin. He even took me to view his second location at the Immobilien Scout offices in Berlin, where some of the luckiest employees in the world have their own Specialty Coffee shop bar down stairs in their own building, managed by Nicolas’s head barista Luca, from Italy,
What I sensed about Milch Halle was a positive and friendly vibe, with people who are passionate about their work. It was wonderful to get to know Nicolas a little bit better, and learn more about the story of Milch Halle, both the past and future.
The home of Milch Halle can be found in Berlin’s Mitte on August Strasse 50. They serve coffee from Bonanza on a La Marzocco Strada and are open seven days a week.