TINMAN - Harry & Justin
TINMAN first opened up its doors in the summer 2017. It’s not British ‘cuisine’ nor is it Ozzie brunch food (although you can still find a smashed avocado).
It’s kick ass and you know it.
Every day you’ll find a fusion of modern speciality cafe, international street food, and all round bloody good comfort eats — the stuff that many might miss from back home (wherever in the world that may be). It’s a reflection of the roots and minds of the witty pair who founded and run it: Harry & Justin.
Set in a bright and vibrant café lined with modern art, TINMAN are an enthusiastic group crafting amazing speciality coffees and fresh food suitable for all palates daily.
When you first meet Justin, it’s probably his cheeky mug peeking over from behind a steaming LaMarzocco espresso machine — and if you get him talking about coffee, you quickly realise that like many Ozzies in Berlin, this is a guy who’s likely earned his stripes as a barista back home -- a Mecca of 3rd Wave coffee.
Suffice to say, they’re well connected with the local cafe community of Berlin and being part of a strong 3rd wave coffee culture (many of whom were Australian immigrants here, would you believe).
“I moved into street food, which was my first wiggle into the whole foodie scene in Berlin. I was making all sorts of things at pop-up events like Bite Club, and Street Food Thursdays: there was porridge at first, all the way to okonomiyaki — inspired by my time spent travelling Japan.”
A lot of freedom, a lot of partying, a lot of good times
“I started off as a cleaner in Berlin, and we used to work together in a bar just upstairs here. That’s how we met!”
The stars must have aligned with Brit Harry and Aussie Justin met one another in Berlin. Having both travelled the globe previously, there was something about this city in the misty past (circa 2011) which made them stow the travel packs away and grow roots instead. Seeing the two together and their nigh-perpetual cheery banter, you begin to understand why they get along so well with one another!
For the pair, Berliners are someone who loves this city, someone who wants to be part of it, someone who wants to be who wants to give something to it… and above all, to have a good experience here.
“It’s about what point in our lives where we’re at. For now, this is a beautiful place to be, which makes me happy. It is a home to me. I’ve been here for a while. Something clicks over at a point — I think it was 5 and a half or 6 years ago — I don’t have to look at map, I don’t have to open a phone, I know where I’m going. It’s a nice feeling.”
We were nobody’s in a way. Didn’t have any connections or anything like that. We’ve been very lucky.
“We opened TINMAN with hardly any money compared to what you would need back home
TINMAN would not exist without all the help that we have received from our families, friends and community and, of course, without our TEAM."
Out of the Berlin woodwork emerged a supportive community — many of them expat small business owners themselves, or people they knew from the expat community — “We had a lot of help. We had a builder friend. We had an architect friend. A guy doing the branding. Had all important things that we know nothing about. But we made the food! The food and the coffee.”
“The thing about Berlin is we meet people, and well, I was inspired by a lot of people doing what they love. And To be able to then get together with someone, a friend, and then all like, all these people came together to us, and like we were able to then create this WITH them, with the help of everybody, and it’s kind of a nice story in that way.”
For Harry, gastronomy has been a lifelong love and ambition. “‘Have an open mind with everything, in every situation’ — I actually got about half of that tattoo’d on my foot! I guess I became a very thoughtful person at that point: I’d left school when I was about 15 or 16, and I lived in NZ for about 6months. Back when I was in school I didn’t want to be there, I was going through a lot at home, and my head was everywhere, so yeah this was something that came to my mind a lot after spending that time away from my home country. But I had worked in my Uncle’s cafe since I was 15. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Justin may not have such a profound life motto as Harry does, but he does have a tattoo of his dog Rudy’s initial. “Each to their own.”
“You don’t really need much money to start something here. You need a good idea. And you need to, you know, find the right team to help you. For me it would have been impossible to do something like this back home.”
“This Kiez was filled with rubble. Empty lots and plots of land. That’s exactly what it was: empty.”
Mitte’s definitely changed a lot since Justin and Harry first stepped off their respective jet liners — “Once there were only 4-5 cafe’s in the whole area in this great big space, but now there’s loads of cafe’s and loads of great places to eat. You definitely have negative sides of gentrification, but you definitely have your positive side with this food scene.”
The concept of change is unwittingly a part of TINMAN’s core. A new city, a new community, new lives. For the name “well actually we came up with a different name, but a cafe with the same name cropped up with it at the same time… ‘Ivy’ so I had to come up with a character for a costume party at the same time, and funnily enough it was the first thing we didn’t disagree on! TINMAN.”