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Burlap sacks full of green coffee beans sit in the back room of Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern, a new coffee shop in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Cafe owners Christian and Stephanie Bebensee roast their own beans. They use the beans in the coffee drinks they sell and also sell the beans in varying quantities to individuals and commercial businesses.
Burlap sacks full of green coffee beans sit in the back room of Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern, a new coffee shop in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Cafe owners Christian and Stephanie Bebensee roast their own beans. They use the beans in the coffee drinks they sell and also sell the beans in varying quantities to individuals and commercial businesses. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Burlap sacks full of green coffee beans sit in the back room of Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern, a new coffee shop in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Cafe owners Christian and Stephanie Bebensee roast their own beans. They use the beans in the coffee drinks they sell and also sell the beans in varying quantities to individuals and commercial businesses.
Burlap sacks full of green coffee beans sit in the back room of Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern, a new coffee shop in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Cafe owners Christian and Stephanie Bebensee roast their own beans. They use the beans in the coffee drinks they sell and also sell the beans in varying quantities to individuals and commercial businesses. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Christian and Stephanie Bebensee, owners of Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern, are reflected in the coffee roaster 
that stands in a back room of the cafe.
Christian and Stephanie Bebensee, owners of Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern, are reflected in the coffee roaster that stands in a back room of the cafe. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern is a family affair. The Bebensees' teenage daughter, Marlene, pitches in on occasion at the downtown cafe.
Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern is a family affair. The Bebensees' teenage daughter, Marlene, pitches in on occasion at the downtown cafe. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Light brown espresso streams into two cups at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern
Light brown espresso streams into two cups at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Steamed milk tops off a cappuccino at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern.
Steamed milk tops off a cappuccino at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Stephanie Bebensee works behind the counter at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern. Bebensee and her husband, Christian Bebensee, opened the store in October.
Stephanie Bebensee works behind the counter at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern. Bebensee and her husband, Christian Bebensee, opened the store in October. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Two cappuccinos with hearts drawn on their foam sit on the counter at  Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern.
Two cappuccinos with hearts drawn on their foam sit on the counter at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Marlene Bebensee, left, helped her mother, Stephanie Bebensee, run the counter on a recent summer day.
Marlene Bebensee, left, helped her mother, Stephanie Bebensee, run the counter on a recent summer day. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Customers enjoy good coffee and conversation at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern.
Customers enjoy good coffee and conversation at Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)

Taking a seat inside the artsy, eclectic cafe, I feel like I’ve been transported to a city in the Pacific Northwest, the land of coffee drinkers.

Potted coffee plants sit on some of the tables.

The aroma of coffee beans roasting in the back hangs in the air, a tease for what’s to come. The sweet sounds of beans grinding and milk frothing further tantalizes.

The drink doesn’t disappoint. The espresso, brewed from Honduras Marcala beans, is strong and smooth with a hint of chocolate.

It’s a little taste of heaven for this coffee lover — and it’s right in gritty Kaiserslautern, where kebab stands outnumber high-quality coffee shops.

Kaffeerösterei Kaiserslautern can be found at a busy corner along the pedestrian zone downtown, an unexpected gem of caffeinated goodness in a coffee-poor city.

Certainly, a decent espresso drink can be found in Kaiserslautern. Look no further than the ubiquitous Barbarossa Bäkerei or the Starbucks wannabe McDonald’s McCafe, where you can dip your candy donut in a Caramel Macchiato.

There are no such sweet indulgences at Kaffeerösterei. You go to Kaffeerösterei strictly for the coffee — or the beans.

Christian and Stephanie Bebensee opened the store last October. They roast their own coffee beans and sell the beans wholesale to individuals and commercial businesses.

The menu at the moment is drinks only, and mostly coffee, including four kinds of espresso, milk coffee, cappuccino and latte macchiato.

“There is so much bad coffee out there,” Stephanie Bebensee, 47, said. “You go out and have a coffee; you look for milk and sugar” to enhance — or, sometimes, mask — the flavor.

The cafe is a family affair. The Bebensees, with occasional help from their two teenage children and other extended family members, run the counter and roast the beans.

The magic happens in the cafe’s back room, where Christian Bebensee roasts mounds upon mounds of beans. The Arabica and Robusta mostly single-origin beans — typically coffee with a single-known geographical origin — come from places such as Honduras, Colombia, Ethiopia and Guatemala. Burlap sacks brimming with green coffee beans sit on the floor near the $15,000 shiny red coffee roaster that Christian Bebensee often can be seen hovering around with a timer.

Christian Bebensee, who’s 50 and also works as an architect, meticulously tracks roast times and outcomes, adjusting the time by minutes or seconds to get the desired flavor.

Coffee beans contain more than 1,000 kinds of aroma compounds, he said. Varying the roasting time can bring out different flavors, he said.

The Bebensees buy their beans from distributors in Hamburg and Bremen but hope to one day buy directly from the growers.

The couple’s goal is to establish “a good coffee culture” in Kaiserslautern, Stephanie Bebensee said, with plans to offer special events and coffee tastings.

Because of the small staff and the Bebensees’ other work commitments, the cafe’s hours are limited — doors close early on Saturday and are shut three days a week. But they hope to expand hours.

Customers so far seem pleased by the unique coffee experience offered at Kaffeerösterei.

“It’s the best coffee in Kaiserslautern,” said Dorothea Hassel of Kaiserslautern, while enjoying a coffee drink with friends on a recent weekday. She picks up Guatemalan coffee beans to brew at home every Saturday.

“The coffee is very, very good,” she said. And as any coffee lover knows, she adds: “It gives life back; it gives energy.”

svan.jennifer@stripes.com Marcus Klöckner contributed to this story.

Kaffeerösterei KaiserslauternLocation: Steinstrasse 27, 67657 Kaiserslautern; located in the downtown pedestrian zone near the Altstadt parking garage.

Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Menu: Coffee drinks, including four types of espresso, milk coffee, cappuccino and latte macchiato. Hot chocolate and mineral water also available.

Prices: Drink prices range from 1.50 euros for an espresso or ristretto to 3 euros for a latte macchiato. The cafe also sells a variety of whole coffee beans, in quantities of 250, 500 and 1,000 grams. Employees will grind the beans upon request. Coffee prices vary depending on the bean. The least expensive, starting at 4.50 euros for 250 grams, is a mix of coffee from Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala. Most pricey is the Maragogype bean from Mexico, often referred to as the “elephant bean” for its large size. It’s described on the cafe’s website as “mild, soft, aromatic, and low in acidity,” and costs 22.50 euros for 1,000 grams.

Dress: Casual.

Information: Phone: (+49) (0) 631 67581; website: www.kaffee roesterei-kaiserslautern.de; Facebook, under Kaffee rösterei-Kaiserslautern.

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