#BrewingBad: This Quintessential NYC Coffee Shop Ain't Just Another Brooklyn Gimmick

You'd be hard pressed to find a New Yorker who would so much as bat an eye after being told that another coffee shop was opening up in Brooklyn.

It's essentially as common a phenomenon as breathing. Or an MTA delay.

But Deniz Kosan isn't just following a trend with his coffee chain, Walter's, coming to Bushwick later this summer - he's following his passion. Deniz' knowledge of and interest in the world of coffee stems from his lifelong friendships with Italian coffee makers.

"I grew up with Italians, hanging out at Lavazza or Italian restaurants, because their parents worked there. I grew up with this culture, it's fun, and when you see how much passion is behind it and you like the product, it's a match," he says.

Deniz was born in raised in Munich, Germany, and moved to Istanbul four years ago where he established the first Walter's shop.

He had been working as a photographer and took a job as a barista to support himself, a job which quickly became more than just a side gig.

"After a couple months working there they sent me to Italy, to their headquarters in Torino. That's where I figured out about coffee and the passionate people that work for it. And I figured out that this is really profitable."


A job that you actually like - that will make you money at the same time? That's an opportunity no one should pass up, and Deniz was no exception.

So, he promptly sold all of his photography equipment and took a leap of faith into the food and beverage industry full-time. 

He started on a smaller scale, opening up and managing small espresso stands which he would then sell.

And since he had gone to school for art and had no formal business or marketing training, he instead learned by doing.

"There's two types of people: people who study finance and work in finance, and people who learn from working. That's how I learned," Deniz explains.

Interestingly enough, I meet Deniz at a coffee shop in Brooklyn that is not his own. Is this considered offensive when interviewing a coffee shop owner? I'm not up on espresso etiquette, so it's a definite possibility.

Regardless, while discussing the business side of the industry, Deniz glances at my cup and asks, "How much did you pay for your coffee?"

"$1.50," I reply.

""It costs 10 cents. Max. If they roast on their own, maybe it's lower," he says.

He's clearly learned a lot in a short amount of time, which he kind of had to, seeing as how he's a one man operation. He even runs the chain's Instagram account, which is a way for him to continue utilizing his photography skills.


"I do everything. Normally a coffee shop is opened by ten people. There's an architect, there's an interior designer, there's a contractor...but, if you want to save money, you do everything on your own."

I feel a little better about the location of the interview when he tells me that he spends a great deal of time in other shops, observing and talking to employees and patrons.


"It's part of my market research: how many people come in, and go, how long does one customer, on average, sit, how much do they spend," Deniz explains. He also mentions that when he was ordering his coffee at the place we're currently sitting in, he made a point to quickly speak with the guy in the back of the shop who was roasting coffee beans.

His intuition and dedication has clearly paid off: the second Walter's is set to open in Bushwick this summer, a venture which has received considerable media attention.


"I have a franchise opening up in Dubai, this one is opening up soon, Istanbul is operating. I got a email from Shanghai yesterday. Germany is opening up 2017. By 2020, I will probably have 6 different coffee shops open in 6 different time zones," Deniz says.

New York City is clearly very excited about the upcoming addition to the coffee community here, but they also seem to be getting a very key piece of information wrong (including us...whoops).

Walter's certainly takes inspiration from the hit TV show Breaking Bad, but Deniz wants to make it clear that it is not intended to be a themed establishment.

"A themed place is cheesy, gimmicky. Disneyland is themed. This is not Disneyland. This is a coffee shop. This is where people can sit down, work, concentrate, drink coffee, enjoy coffee, socialize with each other."

Deniz has made a name for himself in the food and beverage industry, but it wasn't always easy. When I ask him if anyone ever discouraged him when was first getting the business off the ground, he says:

"Of course. Yeah. It didn't work here the first time because of that. They [investors] said 'Oh, well it won't work because the TV show is over, it's a themed place, people won't come.' But it's about the product. The inspiration behind it is just for marketing purposes. To sell it."

But Deniz believed in his vision, and continued on his pursuit. And he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. Before expanding to the West Coast and Miami, Deniz plans to open up more shops in NYC.


Since he'll likely be spending a great deal of time in the city for the foreseeable future, I ask Deniz about his general impressions of New York.

He takes a moment to look out the nearby window at the surprise torrential rainstorm that's currently occurring in Brooklyn, our umbrellas still soaked and lying next to us on the floor of the shop.

"If the weather was better, I think the people would also be nicer." 

Check out Talking Wine & Pride with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Tituss Burgess. 

[Feature Image Courtesy Taringa!] 

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