The Return of Dark Times

This year marks a proud milestone in Lithuanian coffee culture – the 5th coffee conference Dark Times, an event dedicated to coffee culture, knowledge and inspiration, is going to take place on the 4th of November. The event is addressed to curious people who get inspired by coffee and want to dive deeper into the culture surrounding this dark liquid. This year, the stage is dedicated to storytelling.

Dark Times coffee conference is organised by Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories, an enthusiastic team of roasters, brewers and creators. From the very beginning, Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories have been oriented towards all kinds of stories behind the cup, and seeing the coffee as yet another mean of communication allowing to express the ideas, attitudes and feelings.

Not surprisingly, this year the event will greet magazine producers, editors and curators, roasters and baristas, aromatherapy enthusiasts, advertisers and other creative minds. Together they will look for an answer to what is the key to a compelling story, one that is worth listening, and worth telling. Get inspired by incredible speaker list that includes Michal Molčan (Standart, CZ), Rūta Sasnauskaitė (Assembly Coffee, UK), James Wise (Volcano Coffee Works, UK), Laimė Kiškūnė (, LT), Antonio Bechtle (The Atomic Garden Vilnius, LT), Rasa Janina Jusionytė (Ką žmonės dirba visą dieną?, LT) and Kęstas Pikūnas (Passport Journal, LT). All presentations will be given in English.

I am happy to know Emanuelis Ryklys, the man behind Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories roastery and brew bar, for quite some time now and have been honoured to be the first journalist ever to be given an interview by a fresh roasted coffee master more than five years ago. I have been following his stories, beans and journey in the world of coffee ever since. Today Emanuelis shares his thoughts for curating the content of Dark Times and the philosophy behind it.

Emanuelis, the 5th international coffee conference Dark Times will happen on the 4th of November at Kablys culture bar in Vilnius. Being the creative mastermind behind the Dark Times conference, how do you feel about this? Does this mean that coffee culture to Lithuanians is important? 
I'm pretty sure it is important to do and share what you feel is right. Dark Times coffee conference started out from passion and intuition and over years it became quite a huge part of Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories philosophy and of people who are a part of our team or simply our friends and supporters. What's more, with this small independent event we've got noticed locally and globally and that means a lot too. Coffee culture is growing in Lithuania and I am glad we're part of all this.

I wanted to show the diversity of coffee. I always wanted to involve people to play with coffee. And do it all in a very down to Earth way.

Tell us the story behind the Dark Times. What was the innitial idea and philosophy behind this event and how it evloved to an event that it is today? 
Well, I never saw coffee as a functional drink. All good with sourcing, roasting, brewing, packaging, but from the very beginning I saw this as a natural fundament, but also looked for answers into these kind of questions like what's next? Why people talk about coffee complexity but use only espresso machines? Why people like to go to cafes in general? How to pair coffee with food? What is the history behind coffee? And so on. All these topics and themes we try to question and answer during Dark Times coffee conference. I wanted to show the diversity of coffee. I always wanted to involve people to play with coffee. And do it all in a very down to Earth way.

Every year Dark Times conference turns out to be very different in terms of topics, speakers, place and people. What is the most unique thing about Dark Times this year?
This year we are focusing on different forms of stories and different storytellers. I think it is important to find new ways to tell coffee stories, because it is kind of boring to listen to the same things again and again. It is always good to be a bit more creative and I hope we have creditable speakers in Dark Times coffee conference for that.

Storytelling and coffee. How do feel these two are connected and why did you choose to focus on stories this year?
Stories were always very important to me and I guess to most of the people. You need them to make better connections, emotions or simply to enjoy a cup of coffee better.

Before starting your own coffee roastery, you’ve been involed in advertising business for a long time. Could you say this is the reason that storytelling is still using up a large space in your daily life? Maybe it is vice versa?
Well, I truly believe everyone needs some good stories in their life. It can be a book, a song, a movie, a conversation or a damn good cup of coffee. Coffee people are not exeption, just sometime they focuse too much into technical issues rather than sharing naturally their passion to dark drink.

I love the quote by Joan Didion, – “We tell ourselves stories in order to live”. So, what is your (coffee) story? 
Honestly I do not know, but I always try to find new ways to listen to coffee and then share what I have learned from it.

I guess I would be right saying that Dark Times is all about creating community around coffee. How do you select your speakers?
When I have a main topic for upcoming conference I try to think who can be good in supporting this topic. I usually choose people from coffee world and outside of it. I just feel that in order to grow coffee culture you need to step out of it. Othervise you will swim inside a closed pool.

I just feel that in order to grow coffee culture you need to step out of it.

Why do you think Dark Times is worth attending this year? To whom, besides all coffee enthusiasts it would also be interesting and important?
It is always for open and curious ones. No matter if you are connected to coffee or simply enjoying good and hopefull inspiring stories.

Last but not least. The coffee culture and drinking habits of Northern Europeans / Balts. Have you noticed any changes in recent years? Any thoughts on that and where we are headed?
I think we are still doing very first steps of local coffee culture, so it is very hard to talk about similarities and differences. But in my opinion all of us from Northern Europeans / Balts enjoy to do it slow and in a trustfull company.

Finally, if you could pick one place in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to have a first cup of your daily coffee in each of those countries, where would you head to? 
I value people, not places. I have always liked to start my day with coffee from my mom's Moka pot, but now more and more I enjoy brewed coffee by my wife, hah. We have a few friends in Riga and coffee tastes better with them, for sure, no matter where we are having it. Estonia is still a bit unknown land for me although we have had speakers and coffee guest from Tallinn. I am pretty sure I would start my day at their cafe. But I am going to repeat myself that for me it is much more important to have a cup of coffee with someone I like rather to have some rare special beans alone.


For tickets and more information check out these links:
Dark Times Coffee Conference
Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories
@cnacs on Facebook

Photos courtesy by Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories

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