There’s been a lot of great news coming out of Scandinavia in recent weeks and with the Nordic Barista Cup this weekend, there’s likely more to come. Following the recent launch of Nordic Coffee Culture—a collaborative brain trust of leading nordic coffee minds—Tim Wendelboe and Morten Wennersgaard have announced their new coffee importing company, Nordic Approach.
With a strong focus on cup quality, transparency, and direct farmer relationships, Nordic Approach will make some of the world’s best green coffees more accessible to the emerging quality-focused roasters in Europe.
Tim’s knowledge, whose self-titled company is known for its exceptional coffee, as well as the expertise of Morten, green buyer for Solberg & Hansen another Nordic gem, create a dynamic duo who will continue creating more value and understanding for exceptional coffee and the farmers who grow it.
Congrats on the new venture!
While this all may seem inconsequential to those in the US, it should be noted that one third of Handsome Roasters is currently in Norway this week, presumably learning a bit about the Nordic approach to roasting and how to export some of that knowledge back to the handsomest new coffee company in the States.
After reading an article about coffee & seasonality on Nordic Coffee Culture recently, some of what the article discussed reminded me of the entertaining marketing spin used in this 1950′s commercial for Yuban Coffee.
(Yuban is) Richest because it is blended with rare, aged coffee beans…Yuban adds to its blend, beans that are aged to peak flavor; like vintage wine, the choicest cheese, the finest steak…well worth the few extra pennies you’ll spend.
Who wouldn’t want to buy a coffee that’s compared to the finest wines? That technique is sometimes still used today to try and differentiate “third wave” coffee from the rest. Ironically, that strategy is 60 years old and was once used to sell canned coffee from God-knows-where. While Yuban may compare their rich tasting “aged coffee” with vintage wine, Tim Wendelboe compares the technique to defects in corked wine.
The problem with storing unroasted coffee is that after a certain time, (depending on how the coffee is dried, packaged, shipped and stored) the coffee will start loosing moisture and taste more bitter and woody after roasting (almost like corked wine).
If you haven’t read the article, it’s worth checking out. It will give you a better understanding of the seasonal direction many progressive coffee roasters are moving in, as they strive to offer the freshest and highest quality coffee experience possible.
From the same people who created “Green Bean,” a beautiful video I posted back in April, comes another equally as stunning video featuring the team at MadCap Coffee. Showing off their latte art skills and their custom MadCap tampers, combined with the talented video work of Hybrid Media Co. make this some of the best coffee porn online.
Just like last time, turn up the speakers, watch it fullscreen and enjoy.
Barcelona based design firm cunicode, tasked themselves with designing and creating a new espresso cup every day for 30 days. The results are pretty incredible. From the clever, to the impossible, there’s a great range of creativity. The cups are made with white glazed ceramic and each demitasse can be purchased and manufactured to order—one of the benefits of 3D printing.
Introducing the Swedish National Barista Team! These four snyggen individuals will be competing 2 weeks from now at the Nordic Barista Cup in Copenhagen. I’m proud to call Sweden my new home and be represented by such a talented team. Looking forward to seeing them all in their NBC shirts as well—I hear they’re pretty awesome this year.
From left to right: Anne Lunell of Koppi in Helsingborg, former Swedish champ, barista at Coffee Common in TEDinburgh and judge at the upcoming World AeroPress Championships in Milan. Alexander Ruas of Drop Coffee in Stockholm, reigning Swedish Barista Champion and teamed up with Anne at the Coffee Common. Also a heck of a photographer and proud father of two. Pernilla Gard of da Matteo in Gothenburg, part of last years winning team in the Nordic Barista Cup in Oslo, and with a very impressive performance in this years Swedish Barista Championships she secured a Bronze place. Per Nordby, former da Matteo roaster/barista/trainer/buyer/whatever and now a man on his own feet, travelling the world in pursuit of good good coffee, and working on an Errol Flynn mo (and it’s not even Movember).
I love to travel and thankfully get to do so quite often. However, my method for exploring new cities has changed over the years. Before leaving on trips, I use to bury myself in travel guides at the bookstore to map out what to do and see. But my strategy has shifted to combine my love of coffee with my love of travel to create much more fulfilling experiences. Coffee shops have become my bookstore and baristas my travel guides.
Coffee touring has many benefits, aside from tasting the best coffee a city has to offer. Here are some of the reasons why its become my preferred way to travel.
Many independent and progressive coffee shops can’t afford, or choose not to pay, rent near the city centers and tourist attractions. They tend to open shops in neighborhoods, art districts, and future up-and-coming parts of town. By visiting these shops, you find yourself in new parts of the city that a guide book may never lead you to. It also creates a trip unlike those who only visit the typical landmarks—most of which look the same as they do in pictures anyway, only with the mobs of people surrounding them. By allowing yourself to wander, you’ll gain a more unique and personal perspective of a place.
Baristas Know More Than Coffee
Any good barista will love talking about coffee, but there’s a pretty good chance they have other interests as well. If they aren’t too busy, engage them in a genuine conversation. They’re residents of the city you’re visiting after all, which make them wonderful people to talk with for recommendations on the best burrito joint, parks to relax in, art galleries to visit and even other coffee shops that aren’t on your list. I’ve learned about upcoming concerts, closing art exhibits and even parties to attend from talking with baristas. Just consider putting some of that money saved on travel guides in your barista’s tip jar!
A seasoned coffee drinker can easily consume three beverages a day. And if you get them all at three different shops, you can cover a lot of ground in between. When I travel I try to walk everywhere I can. Even in cities with great transportation, you will see much more while walking than if you’re underground or even on a bus. Walking also allows you to take detours down alleys and try on that cute dress you passed in the thrift store window. You’ll have plenty of time to sit and recover at the next coffee shop.
Most coffee shops have some kind of food. Whether its pastries or paninis, you should be able to find something to hold you over until following that burrito recommendation.
While it’s generally frowned upon to make a coffee shop your personal office, there’s always the chance that you can plug in long enough to recharge your phone or camera. If they have wifi, don’t forget to check a map of the area and tweet Instagram photos of you planking on the La Marzocco Strada. Just be considerate, obviously.
Locals In The wild
One of the best ways to gain authentic insight to a place and its people is to view residents in their natural habitat. It’s in those instances when I often realize we’re all human with many of the same habits and vices, no matter what country or culture you’re from. Since locals tend to avoid the overcrowded tourist hubs, you won’t see many of them at cafés in Time Square and Covent Garden. So its the coffee shops in unexpected places, where you’ll find and meet the people who live there.
Planning a Coffee Tour
So how should one begin planning a coffee tour? Being here is a great place to start. There is a category on the right sidebar that lists all of the coffee tours I’ve published so far, and will give you suggestions for coffee shops worth adding to your list. You can follow DCILY on twitter and ask me for recommendations and I’ll do my best to help you find great coffee wherever you’re traveling.
Once you have a few coffee shops on your list, you can begin plotting which ones to visit that allow you to see the most. Be strategic. Sometimes you’ll find a couple great shops within a block or two of each other. If you plan to visit all of those on the same day, you may not make it out of that neighborhood. Once you get to your locations, talk with baristas, talk with locals and let those conversations help shape your trip.
These tours are by no means complete and are to be seen as inspirational suggestions for your own travels. If you know of any shops in the places I’ve been that I haven’t checked out, please leave a comment and let me know about them. Enjoy!
There’s a great new coffee resource to add to the continually growing list of must-read websites—Nordic Coffee Culture. Featuring an editorial team that includes some of Scandinavia’s most inspiring coffee professionals, it aims to discuss the “themes that unite the coffee cultures of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.”
The people of the Nordic countries have a passionate, deeply rooted relationship with coffee. So deeply rooted, in fact, that it is rarely spoken about, and rarer still, given serious thought. It is accepted as a matter of course, a part of the cultural fabric, and – in a more narrow sense – a culture unto itself.
The site is supported by Wilfa, a Norwegian based housewares and lifestyle company, but aside from a small logo on the site, their presence is non-existent. It’s nice to see such a respected collection of voices talking about coffee with consumers in mind, instead of geeking out exclusively with others in the coffee industry. Congrats on the launch and I’m looking forward to a future filled with great content.
I have been working with Wilfa for a long time now to help them improve and develop some new coffee brewers. (To be launched at this years Nordic Barista Cup). In this process we felt there needed to be a blog to celebrate the Nordic Coffee Culture.
I planned on saving up a years worth of coffee bags, but when I recently packed up to move abroad, I choose not to save them any longer. So here is roughly six months of coffee consumed at the DCILY headquarters—minus a few bags I gave to friends.
For the last 10 months, designer Brand Bortwein has been drawing cups of coffee on post-it notes and dedicating them to me. Or you. Or whoever may be looking at them. They range from the artistically realistic, to homages of Super Mario Brothers and Angry Birds. I really enjoyed looking through them all.
When I started this blog over a year and a half ago, this type of thing is what inspired the whole site. Coffee is fantastic and it fuels wonderfully creative things. Something about coffee unlocks creativity in people that can lead to world altering revolutions or a wonderfully simple doodle on a post-it note.
While I was in London a couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of stopping by the Square Mile roastery just days before they packed up moved into their new space. Square Mile, co-owned by Anette Moldvaer and James Hoffmann, the 2007 World Barista Champion, is the go-to roaster in London for great coffee. It’s hard to find a progressive coffee shop in the city that isn’t serving them, and for good reason.
If you’ve ever listened to any of James Hoffmann’s podcasts, you have an idea of how passionate he is about coffee and exploring the possibilities of how much better it can be. He’s one of the nicest and most enlightening guys I’ve met in the coffee world and it’s always a pleasure to discuss coffee and enjoy a cup of it with him—especially when he’s brewing it. Congrats to James and Anette on their new space!
Enjoy some photos of Square Mile’s last days in their old location.