Marco den Dunnen, a local cop who looks more like a street musician, gestures at a young Moroccan man named Abdel, who’s chatting up pedestrians in front of Ookami. “Abdel is respected in this neighborhood,” Marco says. “But here he works his broom like anybody else.”
Ookami, which opened its doors earlier this month, is a unique coffee shop in Rotterdam-West. Marco initiated the project Heilige Rotterdamse Boontjes Koffie (“Holy Rotterdam Coffee Beans”) together with social worker Rodney van den Hengel. It is here that Rotterdam’s juvenile delinquents get the opportunity to help build the Rotterdam coffee brand, as well as build a better life for themselves.
Abdel grabbed this opportunity with both hands. “In crime, you can make money quickly. I did this too. Deal drugs. Jobs for bigwigs,” he says. “But here my life is completely different. The job surprises me every single time. I used to think: Making coffee is just a matter of messing with some coffee beans, water, done. But now I’ve learned that it’s about care, love, and precision.”