Specialty coffee, co-working space and contemporary art: meet Košice’s Parazol

Unseen and hidden from the Hlavná passage, you could hardly find any ad for the site drowned in the middle of a historical court. Imagine a unique space whose purpose fulfilled the original vision of blending gallery of contemporary Košice’s artists, co-working and, most of all, specialty coffee. Let’s talk Parazol — sensational flavour mosaic caressing your tongue map. Addictiveness worth freaking out. Read about Slavoj Palenčár and his exclusive quality coffee:

Parazol’s beginnings. What was your original vision you wanted to present in the city?

I wanted to connect the creative concept and space where people could get specialty coffee with a gallery. It works very well together actually — I see the whole coffee-making process as a craft, something where tons of information is required. Throughout it all, only a minor deviation changes the final product. There’s definitely a certain level of creativity in it. You must push yourself towards devising and designing. It’s all some sort of jigsaw puzzle, after all.

How long did it take you to get all the skills you needed for opening Parazol?

Long. Firstly, I just ordered specialty coffee for myself and was learning how to prepare it better. I experimented with Aeropress, and home espresso machine. That’s when I saw the difference between regular and specialty coffee. Tricky, cause you may not want to return back. Once you get to know the correct taste of the product, you don’t want an over-roasted one. Same goes for Slovak halušky, you want it with sheep cheese, not cream. This SC community is very open and people post their experiments, observations, and experience online. It took me around 2–3 years to go through it all, and to select what was relevant for me. I followed various kick-starter and fundraising projects as well so as to confront other secondary sources of info.

Has Parazol fulfilled your expectations? Do you organize any regular events?

Definitely, it connected art with my profession which I didn’t want to give up completely, obviously. Just to mention few, Adam Hrušovský plays music here on Mondays or we had a comic drawing workshop/meeting lead by Ondrej Pastirik. I would very much like architectonic lectures in the future. Not necessarily related to classic topics, interesting people would meet to talk about those which are momentarily relevant in the world of architecture.

Tell me something about these coffees you offer. Does your selection change frequently?

Of course, I am always changing my offer. I’ve been trying to introduce very distinctive flavours. Each of this type of coffee needs to have over 85 points on the SCA scale (Specialty Coffee Association). Currently, I’m ordering from one supplier in Bratislava, and then from Sheffield and Nottingham.

I assume, there is some pattern for Parazol’s visitors.

They are explorers. These are either foreigners who know what they are looking for, or somebody finds their way inside this historical court. That’s actually a part of their discovery — strolling through the city in search of what they want, not schematically. They like to come back because I give them coffee and talk to them. It’s about mutual interaction. And so, my figure probably plays an important role in it.

What do people say when they taste this coffee for the first time? What’s the reaction for something they had never tasted before?

Waw effect to a certain extent. Due to the fact that these are coffees prepared with a different procedure, the final flavour contains a lot of fruity tones and that comes as a great surprise. I try to explain the natural taste of coffee and how the over-roasted one is not it. But some decide to stick with it anyway. Our taste is learned in a sense, I consider it as fulfilling the expectation. McDonald built its whole business model on the ‘I know what I’ll get there’ concept.

What do your customers gain?

They leave with an experience. I’m giving them an atypical, non-standard product and that’s how I also orientate my business policy. I avoid giving people what they want. I’m very much up for showing them what they might like. However, I am able to afford it. The space I’m having here is small and I can progress with the people who come here. It is just a matter of gain and size when it comes to 7g standardized coffee drinks. The less your input, the higher the profit. Adding Robusta provides caffeine but roasting makes an ash-like flavour. No divergence from the expected yet it rather damages than benefits.

Any marketing strategy?

None, just Facebook fan page. Obviously, those who come here consider this coffee to be the best in town. On the contrary, marketing and advertising would stand in opposition to the message Parazol intends to spread — the extraordinariness of the place. I couldn’t possibly talk to twenty people if they all came at the same time. The aim is to enjoy the quality and nice atmosphere of the environment where it’s served, not to become a mass-producer. When you think about it, it seems as a hideaway — I’m not on Hlavná but you can hide inside this historical court even when it’s raining. I think that’s a very crucial point about Parazol.

Hued by fruity tones, real taste coffee and an inspiration bundle are awaiting you in Parazol. The visit guarantees an exceptional convo with Slavoj defining everything that Parazol actually stands for — know-how, zeal and open-mindedness. Book a room with The Invisible Hotel and sip a bit from it. And don’t you dare to forget, raining doesn’t matter!

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