Do you have any particular relationship with Karlín that factored in your decision to not only open your café here but also to name it after this quarter?
We do now, of course. We actually formed this attachment when we opened the café. Adam even moved to Karlín afterwards. Today, Karlín to us is a beautiful and very pleasant quarter.
 
Surely there are dozens of customers coming to your café every day. Do you have regulars from Karlín whom you know by name? How long did it take to win their favour?
Naturally we do. We attempt to offer more to people than just selling coffee. If you put your heart into it, people will know and will like to come back. I guess we know around twenty regulars by name, although there are many more who stop by regularly every day. Some of them we remember from the markets and they followed us here. That makes us incredibly happy.
 
What are your favourite places in the neighbourhood that you visit regularly?
In Karlín there are plenty of interesting and much liked places, for example the interesting foursome located in a row on Křižíkova Street: Veltlin, Tea Mountain, Můj šálek kávy, and Garage. Mostly we go to Lokál Hamburk, though, which is just round the corner, or to the newly opened bar Diego. A bar, or actually a pub, offering a good selection of local and foreign beers had been missing here. With Lokál it is really nice that their staff sometimes come to us for coffee in return.
 
Besides Kafe Karlín you also own Kávový klub and Kafe Kolej. How are these projects interlinked?
That’s simple – via high quality. Kávový klub is sort of an umbrella organisation, under it we organise courses or sell our roasted coffee. All our cafés and stands have a high-quality and properly made coffee in common. Thus we have customers visiting different branches depending on where they are at the moment. We cannot forget to mention our wonderful baristas because you can see that as well as our coffee, customers come to see them, too.

What is the difference between making coffee under limited conditions of a small stand and in a fully equipped café?
When you take away the natural elements – such as the wind, rain, sun, constantly blown coffee, humidity and temperature changes that make it really hard to set a coffee grinder and can accidentally cause sun tanning on the verge of sunstroke, or frostbitten lips to the point where you can hardly repeat customer’s ‘double espresso with a dash of milk’ order - making coffee outside is not that different from a cup prepared comfortably in a café. You have to adapt to a lot of things but it’s possible. Generally speaking, making coffee outside is easier when it’s 25°C than in -5°C, which is a temperature in which we are also able to work.
 
What does a person have to be able to manage in order to become a great barista? How did you two become baristas?
Barista is actually a profession and one needs time to learn it. It’s not as easy as it looks from the other side of the counter. You need to be patient, have discipline, and we can also call it being detail-oriented. One must always try and experiment, and possibly test new ways how to improve the taste of coffee. Zdeněk became a barista almost naturally – after finishing gastronomic school and working in a café he had become gradually more and more interested in the profession. He was lucky to meet and work with good people, and then it was crystal-clear that his life would revolve around coffee. Adam’s journey was noticeably more complicated, although started with a cup of good coffee. He considers tasting his first cup of high-class coffee to be the beginning of it all.
 
(Adam Dvořák and Zdeněk Smrčka, owners of Kafe Karlín)

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Do you remember your first Polaroid cameras? When did you get it?
We were a bit of losers – it was at the same time when the Polaroid company stopped producing the cameras and the film material. We purchased some of the old Polaroid cameras along with a couple of packages of the film on eBay. Before we even finished our first films their price had radically increased so we got over the excitement very soon. But then we discovered The Impossible Project, a company of buffs, who started making the films again and we seized the opportunity – it was wonderful experience, since their first films were literally experimental and the photos didn’t turn out the way we assumed. That way Polaroid gained utterly new magic for us.

You’ve been dealing with Polaroids for quite a long time. What have changed ever since?
So awfully lot! Considering that the guys from The Impossible Project had had a great succes with their films, the production started at big and nowadays they make films that are unthinkably better. A bit of an adventure has disappeared that way though. On the other hand, the films still keep this certain waywardness, the typical colourfulness and unsharpness and so Polaroid has become a phenomenon again. We’d stuck to it and over the years we found that we were not alone in that slightly unusual hobby – and so we started writing about Polaroids, refurbishing and selling them, exhibiting the photographs and organize workshops… those are the origins of Polagraph.

Polagraph was created by the combination of three different brands (PolaroidLove, Paragraph and my dear deer). How did you all get together?
It was clear that just the Polaroids wouldn’t be enough to run the place – and so we got together with the girls whose projects we loved. Karolína from Paragraph makes some beautiful handmade sketchbooks, diaries and photoalbums, whereas Kristin from my dear deer refurbishes old Soviet cameras which she decorates with new playful textures and motives. We amend each other very well and we all got keen of the common work immediatelly.

Polagraph doesn’t work just as a shop, but also as a little gallery. Do your exhibitions focus just on instant photography? How do you choose the artists?
The only condition we established was that the photos had to be created the chemical way. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Polaroid or classical analogue photography. Of course, we require that the collection of photos makes sense as a whole - and that we like it, obviously. Our gallery is thus open to everyone – we definitely don’t act as a gallery that gets satisfied only by the kinds of Helmut Newton etc.

Who are your customers? Do the professional photographers deal with Polaroid as well?
It is strange in a way, but they do. Most of them remember Polaroids from the time when they were used as an exposure preview before the actual photo was taken. Now it doesn’t make any sense anymore, as the Polaroid picture is uncomparably more expensive. However, Polaroid still appeals to professional photographers – either with the impossibility of copying and manipulation or with the unusual colours and sharpness. Anyway, majority of the customers are young buffs, who fell in love with the Polaroid magic in the time of the rebirth caused by The Impossible Project.

Do you guys photograph also digitally, or are you loyal to chemical - analogue photography?
We photograph with everything we can! We’re not such fanatics, who would devastate every digital camera that comes by. On the contrary, we started taking photos with digital cameras and it’s fairly obvious that those are much handier and more practical. The analogue photography though has an irresistible magic to us, perhaps a bit nostalgic, but that makes it even more enticing – as if it gives a photography a sense it has once lost.

(Michal Čáp, Polagraph co-owner)

 


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Spud. is an unconventional Prague city guide, that highlights its interesting spots and local businesses that are really worth visiting. With a Polaroid camera, we’re mapping four different areas: food and drinks, shops, workplaces of creative people and architecture. Spud. is focused on fresh places with unique atmosphere, cafés with the best coffee, shops with the finest goods, workshops and studios of the most skilled designers and architectural attractions with the greatest charm. Spud. is also mainly about people, who stand behind these projects. Without their invention and courage to fulfill their dreams Prague would be a much poorer place. That’s why we’re so grateful to all of them!
 
Tereza a Michal
info@spud.cz / 728 764 380



 
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