New Balance:

 

We talk work with Elisabeth Somers, one of the co-founders of Coffeelabs

One of the many draws of working at Fosbury & Sons is, undeniably, the healthy and delectable food that Coffeelabs serves there.

As the purveyor of refined, flavourful and often vegetable-based dishes, Coffeelabs can be credited with fuelling the co-working workforce that calls Fosbury & Sons Antwerp their office. They’ve even opened Midori next to the entrance hall, a take-away or eat-in concept that rounds out their 360° approach, and, once the Brussels outpost of Fosbury & Sons opens, you can find their energizing menus there, too.

Nowadays, food of the type Coffeelabs prepares is easier to find than a handful of years ago. We were curious as to what drove them early on, and what continues to be the driving force behind their successful food formula.

Here, Elisabeth Somers, a founding partner of Coffeelabs alongside her husband Nicolas and her sister-in-law Virginie Verellen, talks us through it.

Virginie Verellen & Elisabeth Somers. Photography by Jeroen Leurs

Virginie Verellen & Elisabeth Somers. Photography by Jeroen Leurs

When did the four of you found Coffeelabs and why?

We founded Coffeelabs in October of 2012. We actually started from what I think is a kind of reversed motivation compared to most people in the food service industry. Our initial idea was to found an accelerator where entrepreneurs could find each other, and could find investors and business mentors. That became our location in the Lange Klarenstraat 19, here in Antwerp. We noticed that on the first floor we needed a place where people could meet and work – a place with an inflow of talent. So you see, our concept was always office-related: we’ve been all about a healthy work-life balance from the start.

How did your interest in food develop?

Each time we moved our café from the ground floor to our rooftop – which was each summer for our pop-up – it was an opportunity to change things, to improve. Our passion for food simply grew, and before we knew it, we prepared everything in-house.

What are the principles behind Coffeelabs?

Coffeelabs wants to provide busy people with healthy, fresh food, with international flavours. Our food is wild and natural, seasonal and pure, which means our lunch menu changes daily. Everything is made on the spot and prepared with love. We want to bring back balance in everyone’s life. At the Fosbury & Sons Coffeelabs locations, we connect people through food and coffee – they are a medium, not the goal.

Coffeelabs also caters for Fosbury & Sons’ Sunday brunches that bring people together. Photography by Jeroen Leurs

Coffeelabs also caters for Fosbury & Sons’ Sunday brunches that bring people together. Photography by Jeroen Leurs

How did Coffeelabs end up partnering with Fosbury & Sons?

Funnily enough, we spotted the opening of Fosbury & Sons on Instagram. We knew Stijn already, as he used to come to Coffeelabs, and he had been at our dinners, too. We quickly knew we wanted to work together. We opened there in December 2016. Maarten has experience in catering, and we had that co-working angle. I think we elevate each other.

What makes this collaboration so gratifying?  

We’re completely aligned: both Coffeelabs and Fosbury & Sons put co-working and a healthy environment first. And we love to be able to work in such a wonderful space and happy workplace.  We like a buzzing vibe, a place where people come together to share ideas and food.