Zak Koga

My day job is being the co-founder and co-owner of Karben4 Brewing. I own it with my brother, Ryan, and best friend Alex Evans. We wanted to create a craft brewed beer that Madisonians could be proud of—we’d love people to think “Oh, yeah, Madison, that’s where they make Karben4!”

 My most memorable caffeine would be hard to pinpoint—coffee has been a big part of my life! I first discovered it with my college roommate. We’d go to a coffee shop and study—it was a great combination of work and fun. And, caffeine was critical in 2012. We opened the brewery, I was still working full-time at my previous employer (Findorff) as the project manager on a new 30-story building in Milwaukee and I got married. Coffee was there at every turn!

 My current caffeine of choice is straight, black coffee. I love the first sip of it—especially my first cup of the day. It’s the purest part of the day, the sun is just coming up and everything is unfolding.

My favorite place for caffeine is the Johnson Public House and I also like Colectivo on the Square. We also have a K4 blend that we get from our neighbors at the brewery, Just Coffee. We use it in our coffee stout and for drinking around the office.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is a toss-up. It would be great to sit down with Thomas Jefferson and learn what it was like to be there at the founding of our country. It would be fascinating to sit down with the business titans of the 19th century, like J.P. Morgan, Carnegie and Rockefeller—that appeals to my entrepreneurial soul! And I’d love to sit and have a cup of coffee with the late Steve Jobs. I watched an interview with him where he said that once you realize that everything that surrounds you was created by people who are no smarter than you, it alters your perspective on what you can accomplish.

 World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: creating a sense of community. Technology has detached us from each other in so many ways—we’re a communal species and we need to be in physical contact with each other. We’re wired for it! Coffee—and beer!—give us an excuse to connect.