Meet Emanuelis Ryklys.
Owner and barista at Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories, Ryklys is a
After a successful ten-year advertising career, this dreamer traded security and longevity for the pursuit of his passion.
The career change was no small shift of professions for Ryklys. It took him from a fast-paced world of big clients and big projects, into an environment focused on roasting, brewing, tasting, and educating.
This Lithuanian chaser of dreams said so long to ads, and hello to coffee.
It wasn’t driven by a lack of job satisfaction. Instead, it was an exploration of passion. Initially, his thought was to spend time gaining not only a better understanding of coffee itself, but also understanding what he wanted to say with coffee.
“Just roasting and preparing coffee seemed too simple for me. I wanted to share new ideas and wanted to put more emotion into the coffee in general.”
So Emanuelis set out on a journey of discovery, education, and creation. He began his experimentation with coffee blends, collaborating with a local writer who penned special stories for the packaging (thus the Coffee Stories part of his shop’s name).
Over the next four years, Emanuelis concentrated on coming up with original coffee and coffee-inspired products. This included his own cold brew, coffee stouts, clay cups, and a unique Lithuanian coffee brewer.
As he went through this discovery process, one thing Emanuelis realized was his own lack of coffee education. And he thought if he, a guy so focused on coffee, was a bit coffee-illiterate, it was likely that many of the coffee drinkers he encountered were probably in the same boat.
That revelation sparked the birth of a couple of things. First, Emanuelis began leading coffee tastings. He also began organizing Dark Times, an annual coffee conference held in Vilnius.
With all of this coffee knowledge and roasting experience that he was collecting, it was still not really his plan to open a café. But just over a year ago, he and a couple of others realized they were sharing a common vision: a brew-only bar. No machines, no sugar, no trendy coffee drinks. Their vision was to create a micro-roastery and brew bar that focused on providing various new and established hand-brew techniques and exploring a variety flavor profiles, all the while giving customers a personal and unique coffee drinking experience that focuses on both quality and education.
That vision became a reality in July of 2015, when Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories opened in a small neighborhood of Vilnius (Lithuania). As Emanuelis explains it, “it’s an alternative coffee place with down-to-earth educations with each cup.”
While his prior profession and his new passion are in most way worlds apart, it is also clear Emanuelis utilizes some of that advertising background in the brew bar. His style and branding choices are distinctive and consistent. His interpersonal skills are the kind that make you feel comfortable and engaged. And his ability to share his knowledge with both enthusiasm and confidence makes it clear that he has definitely done his homework. You don’t feel like you’re getting a sales pitch. You know there is heart behind what he’s presenting.
After a year behind the counter of his shop, Emanuelis would be the first to tell you that Crooked Nose and Coffee Stories has not been an overnight success, at least not if one measures success in terms of people waiting in a line that stretches around the corner. But the brew bar has an increasing number of loyal customers. Each visitor walks in feeling welcome, and walks away with a better understanding of coffee – and most likely a desire to return for another cup.
And he refuses to give in. He could certainly bow to the allure of pricey real estate for the sake of a more high-profile location, or the addition of trendy drinks to succumb to the latest fads.
Instead, Emanuelis Ryklys presses on, hoping to educate coffee drinkers, one pour-over at a time.
It’s a beautiful thing, seeing someone take skills from various seasons of life, combine them with natural personality traits and lifelong dreams, and utilize them in the hope of making passion into a thriving profession.
I’ve heard it said “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And for someone like Emanuelis, there is little doubt that this saying rings true.