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Timo - ne echt kölsche Köbes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

Every table is a stage

Timo - "ne echte kölsche Köbes"

In or­der to pre­vent any mis­un­der­stand­ings: Timo Eck­stein has noth­ing against wo­men. Most cer­tainly not. But when it comes to his job ?then I be­come a chau­vin­ist?, says the 38-year-old and adds with a charm­ing smile: ?I?m the ?Köbes?, wo­men are wait­resses?. Un­der­stood. But Timo, who last worked at the Co­logne cult pub Lommerzheim and now serves at the equally fam­ous ?Zur Malzmühle? brew­ery does not mean any­thing bad by this. Quite the op­pos­ite. Be­cause to get a job as a Köbes, you have to have something spe­cial. Timo ex­plains why to Dein­NRW on a vis­it in Co­logne.

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    Türschild Kölschkneipe Lommerzheim, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    typische Köbes-Schürze und Portemonaie, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Köbes Timo im Lommerzheim, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Innenaufnahme der Kölschkneipe Lommerzheim mit Gemälde von Lommi, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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Köbes Timo beim Zapfen, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

Nobody knows any more where the term ?Köbes? came from. What is sure though is that Köbes is the Kölsch (co­logne dia­lect) form of Jac­ob (James). Oth­er­wise, he turned up some­where in the fog of the brew­er­ies of the 19th cen­tury ac­cord­ing to what they say in Co­logne. It may be that many of the brew­ery boys (?Brauers-Pooscht?) back then, who worked in the brew­ery by day and served in the brew­ery pub at night, were called Jac­ob (James). An­oth­er story says that it was pil­grims on the Jakob­sweg (The Way of St. James), who served in the brew­er­ies in or­der to earn some money for their jour­ney that gave the Köbes their name. Whatever. In any case, the Köbes is still the secret boss of the brew­ery and is not in any way ob­lig­ated to the guests, only to the beer. But he is also an en­ter­tain­er and philo­soph­er, some­times a little crude but al­ways charm­ing.

?As a Köbes, you can be brash but nev­er out­rageous.? This is how Timo de­scribes his way of in­ter­act­ing with guests. Be­cause ?every table is a stage?. You flirt and make fun, tease and laugh. And if a guest does ac­tu­ally or­der an Alt­bi­er (dark beer, lit­er­ally trans­lated ?old beer?) ?then tell him he should just leave the Kölsch stand­ing long enough - and it will get old by it­self?. And pils­ner? ?You can get it free at the swim­ming pool.? Timo is nev­er short of a silly say­ing. ?I step on people?s right foot? says the young man with the full black beard and the win­ning smile.

"Every table is a stage."

Timo

In Co­logne, where Timo has lived for more than 30 years and where car­ni­val is of course also cel­eb­rated, at the Nippeser Lap­pepir­at­et, there?s only Kölsch, noth­ing else. But it has to be cleanly tapped and fresh, the Köbes places great im­port­ance on this and what it means. And Timo, whose par­ents also had a pub in Co­logne at Hansar­ing for a long time, and was there­fore ?some­how born in­to gast­ro­nomy?, does not make any com­prom­ises when it comes to tap­ping either. Be­cause ul­ti­mately, the guest has a right to have the glass filled up to the serving mark (mind you that does not mean a fill line in the case of a Kölschstange (Kölsch beer glass)) and for it to have enough of a head on top. Beer is only ?cleanly tapped?, Timo ex­plains to the lay­men, ?if it leaves prop­er cur­tains in the glass?.  And every beer re­quires a head, wheth­er top-fer­men­ted or bot­tom-fer­men­ted.

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    Köbes Timo in Aktion - jeder Tisch ist eine Bühne, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Ein Kranz mit frisch gezapftem Kölsch, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Timo ist Köbes im Lommerzheim Köln, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Timo bei der Arbeit im Biergarten im Lommerzheim, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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Ein Kranz mit frisch gezapftem Kölsch, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

"A beer is only ?cleanly tapped? if it leaves prop­er cur­tains in the glass?. 

Timo

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Aussenansicht der Kultkneipe Lommerzheim in Köln, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

A throng like at an end of sea­son sale

At typ­ic­al Kölsch pubs and brew­er­ies like the Lommerzheim in Köln-Deutz, every Köbes must also know how to tap beer. Above all, how­ever, he re­quires tenacity. Be­cause even be­fore the most Kölsch of all Kölsch pubs opens, ?a queue of people forms out­side the door like at the sum­mer sales?. It maybe that the Köbes ? who can be clearly iden­ti­fied from his long blue ap­ron and leath­er purse - has to lug a 50 kilo keg of beer out to the tap­room every 20 minutes and tap it. Every 20 minutes, 31.5 litres of Kölsch: That?s ex­actly how much the Fat Ber­tha keg holds at Brauerei Päff­gen, con­tinu­ing a long tra­di­tion at the Lommerzheim. The brew­ery has been there since 1959, run for 45 years by Hans ?Lommi? Lommerzheim and his wife An­nemie. Here, many an­ec­dotes are told about the quiet but quick-wit­ted land­lord. In 1999, on the oc­ca­sion of the world eco­nom­ic sum­mit, he is sup­posed to have re­fused a vis­it by the then US Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton to his wood-pan­elled tap­room. The reas­on: The reg­u­lars would have to stay out­side. At the Lommerzheim, a cut­let is tra­di­tion­ally served with the beer, which by the way is not ordered from the brew­ery but rather brought by the Köbes un­til the guest puts a beer­mat on top of his glass, sig­nalling that he is fin­ished. But not just any cut­let. The le­gendary pork cut­let here is a hefty 700 grams in weight and cer­tainly doesn?t come from a dis­counter. Everything that is put on the table in the rus­tic tap­room comes from loc­al pro­du­cers and traders. The new land­lord Frank Glitscher owes this to him­self and his cus­tom­ers. Apro­pos: ?On good days, we sever up to 400 cut­lets.? One Whit­sun it was ap­par­ently 1,200.

Timo?s cur­rent em­ploy­er is also loved by guests from all over the world: the tra­di­tion­al Zur Malzmühle brew­ery. It is the second old­est of its kind in Co­logne and was star­ted over 150 years ago as a malt beer brew­ery. And even today, along with Müh­len-Kölsch, malt beer is still one of the best sellers at the brew­ery that still brews at its ori­gin­al loc­a­tion in Co­logne?s old town. Es­pe­cially at week­ends, there are also queues here to get to one Kölsch or oth­er.

Köbes is, as already men­tioned, not an easy job. And when Timo talks about it, you can vividly ima­ging how the 1.75 metre tall, very fit young man clears the way through the guests stand­ing cheek to jowl. And why men are Köbes and wo­men are wait­resses... ?I?m ac­tu­ally 10 cen­ti­metres too small for the job too?, the former ice hockey play­er quickly adds. So would he prefer to do something else? ?No way. My job goes right to my heart.?

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    Timos Harley vor dem Lommerzheim, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    die berühmten 700g-Koteletts aus dem Lommerzheim, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Tisch im Brauhaus, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Nachtwächterlampe in der Kultkneipe Lommerzheim, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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Timo im Gespräch mit Gästen © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW.jpg, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

"My job goes straight to my heart." 

Timo 

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Timo unterwegs in Köln Nippes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

In his Veedel

You will of­ten meet Timo at a brew­ery in his free time too, if he?s not rid­ing his Har­ley around Nippes. At ?Golde Kappes?, he likes to chat with his col­leagues. Even as a child, he was of­ten at the tra­di­tion­al hostelry with his par­ents, where you can still see a Beicht­s­tuhl (con­fes­sion­al box). This is where the Köbes got his ?Kranz? (beer tray) and settled up be­fore he went in­to the tap­room. Nowadays, bills are settled with re­ceipts or ?Märkchen?. In the past and now, the guest al­ways only paid at the end. And the fol­low­ing ap­plies at the brew­ery:

?The beer­mat is a mat­ter of hon­our?.

Timo

?At the Golde Kappes, Sat­urday was al­ways fam­ily time?, Timo re­mem­bers of his child­hood. ?First we went shop­ping, then a ?Stram­mer Max? (eggs, ba­con and bread) here, a Kölsch for my moth­er and a lem­on­ade for me, and then we car­ried on shop­ping?. His fath­er, him­self a land­lord, loved to tell him stor­ies of his home town. His son has re­membered many if these to this day, for ex­ample the story of the Arch­bish­op of West­er­burg and the Battle of Wor­rin­gen in 1288. Be­cause the 38-year-old, who you would hardy re­cog­nise on his days off in beige skater pants, a fleece jack­et, base­ball cap and dark sunglasses, loves his city. And loves his Veedel (neigh­bour­hood) even more. ?Be­cause Co­logne is es­sen­tially just a con­glom­er­a­tion of lots of little vil­lages.? And when Timo walks along the streets with lots of new graf­fiti and pubs, there is al­ways time to chat too. Be­cause Timo knows the people in Nippes, and they know him.

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    Timo auf dem Weg in Em Golde Kappes in Köln Nippes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Timo, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    altes Klappfahrrad in Köln Nippes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Timo unterwegs in seinem Veedel Nippes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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"Bierdeckel ist Ehrensache", © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

"The beer­mat is a mat­ter of hon­our."

Timo

Time also sees his city la­bel, which he foun­ded a few years ago with a graph­ic de­sign­er friend of his, as re­min­is­cent of ?his Co­logne?. The name ?Trois Rois? is of course de­rived from the Three Kings, who are very im­port­ant to the people of Co­logne. But it also in­cludes the in­flu­ence of the French. ?For ex­ample, I still al­ways say ?trot­toir??, says Timo. It is found on t-shirts, hats and mugs with the name of city dis­tricts such as Nippes, Deutz, Ehren­feld and Kalk, with the old post­code 5000 and a little skull, like the one its cre­at­or also wears on his fin­ger. The items sell well in the small, trendy shops that are once again to be found in Nippes. Be­cause like Timo, most Co­logne nat­ives are loc­al pat­ri­ots to some ex­tent of oth­er. ?I would even say?, says the 38-year-old, and has to laugh a little him­self, ?that Co­logne is a city where the most de­vo­tion­al ob­jects are sold to the loc­als them­selves.? Even if ?Co­logne really isn?t so at­tract­ive any more. I love this city.?

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    Timo unterwegs in Köln-Nippes am Wilhelmplatz, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Timo im Gespräch vor dem Kultladen "vielfach" in Nippes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Timo mit einem Shirt seines Labels "Trois-Rois", © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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    Graffitis in Köln Nippes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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Timo auf seiner Harley in Nippes, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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Timo unterwegs in Köln-Nippes am Wilhelmplatz, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.

Three ques­tions for Timo Eck­stein

"Kölsche Jung" and fan of mo­tor­bikes

Timo, you have 48 hours of free time. What would you def­in­itely do with this time in NRW?
Timo: No ques­tion, mo­tor­cyc­ling. That?s the best thing of all: Hel­met on, hop on the Har­ley and then ride around the area with the boys.

Which place in NRW did you most re­cently dis­cov­er for the first time?
Timo: Zeche Ewald in Her­ten. There was a mo­tor­cycle event there re­cently. I was there for the first time. I really liked the old in­dus­tri­al set­ting straight away.

Your per­son­al fa­vour­ite place in NRW.
Timo: The Rhine! I al­ways en­joy sit­ting down or go­ing for a walk some­where along the Rhine. It?s at it?s most beau­ti­ful when the sun is slowly set­ting and you look down at the wa­ter from one of the many bridges and see the sil­hou­ette of Co­logne shim­mer­ing. It has something mys­tic­al about it then.

Fa­vour­ite Spots & Tips from Timo


Urb­an jungle, beer and Rhine met­ro­pol­is

Bierkranz mit Kölsch, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.
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Beer Route

Rheinpanorama von Köln, © Udo Haake / KölnTourismus GmbH
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Co­logne - Rhine Met­ro­pol­is

Old town, cologne, © Sanny Zoekt Geluk
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Co­logne and Rhine-Erft County

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Persona Olivier Kruschinski, © Ralph Sondermann, Tourismus NRW e.V.