Happy New Year everyone! While looking forward to great things in the coming year, here’s a look back at 2012—a great year for drinking coffee. It was my first full year living in Sweden so there was a big shift in the coffees I was able to have on a regular basis at home. Thanks to a few trips back to the US and those generous and willing enough to ship overseas I was still able to get a fair share of coffee from US roasters as well, many of which the bags were given away to other coffee lovers on this side of the world.
A few things I noticed in 2012 that I’m looking forward to becoming even more prominent in 2013 are the continued variety of fantastic coffees from El Salvador and coffees from new areas in Ethiopia, which taste great, but nothing like Yirgacheffe. I can also confirm that every coffee I tasted from Sumatra was still absolutely terrible.
All of the coffee bags above can be browsed in large scale on Flickr (or Pinterest)
Most Memorable Coffees
- Elida Estate Green-Tip Gesha, Panama. Verve Coffee
- Finca Los Lajones Gesha, Panama. Verve Coffee
- Michiti, Ethiopia. Tim Wendelboe
- Barrantes, Costa Rica. Koppi Coffee
- Yukro, Ethiopia. Coffee Collective
- El Diamante, Guatemala. Coffee Collective
- Elephante, El Salvador. Madcap Coffee
- El Majahual, El Salvador. Da Matteo
- Kiryama, Burundi. Seven Seeds
- Bufcafe, Rwanda. Detour Coffee
You can view last year’s coffee consumption here.
For the second year in a row, Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz have wrapped their limited Gesha offerings in lovely cans that reflect just how special these coffees are. While I won’t be reviewing the coffees, which Verve was kind enough to send all the way to Sweden, but I will say that they were two of the finest I’ve tasted in 2012.
Gesha (or Geisha) coffee is a variety of coffee cultivar that is known among coffee connoisseurs as one of the most unique and complex coffees available. Excluding the immoral and over-hyped coffees that are extracted from animal poop, Gesha coffee is the most expensive in the world. In 2010, Gesha from La Hacienda Esmeralda set a new record at auction with a price of $170/lb. for green, unroasted beans.
Last year’s cans were dressed in black, but this year they’ve taken on a lighter tone, adding a new level of elegance to the industry common theme of black-on-craft aesthetic. The labeled cans are letter pressed, foil-stamped and hand numbered, but are beautifully simple and refined, contrasting the complexity of Verve’s standard bags.
The cans remind me of whiskey bottles that often come packed in elegant tubes to better protect the luxurious products inside. When you’re paying $45 to $65 for half a pound of the world’s finest coffee beans, the buyer may expect more than just a different sticker on a standard coffee bag. While others have used glass jars in equally elegant ways, these cans create the same impact without greatly affecting the shipping weight.
Investing in design to better communicate the value of your product is a great way to change the perceptions of those who see coffee as a cheap commodity with no difference in quality, no matter where it comes from. If specialty coffee truly is special, it should begin to look and feel that way more often than it does now.
Finca Los Lajones Gesha Natural – 8oz – $45
Panama Elida Green-Tip Gesha – 8oz – $65 (Sold Out)
My good friends at Koppi Coffee in Helsingborg, Sweden have teamed up with local tattoo hero Jonas Pedersen at Crooked Moon to bring us this fantastic t-shirt. Jonas has several unique styles, but his Cherokee inspired mandalas and native indian art have always been personal favorites (she’s crying because she ran out of coffee).
Koppi is taking pre-orders to cut down on excess inventory and to try and deliver before the holidays. If I were to add one more item to the DCILY Coffee Lover Gift Guide, it would be this t-shirt and a few bags of Koppi coffee. These shirts are un-branded, 100% cotton, and delightfully soft. Sizes run small (think American Apparel fitted).
Price includes shipping from Sweden: 220sek ($33 or 21£ or 25 €)
Orders must be in by 5 December
If you’d like to order one, send an email with subject “T-shirt” to firstname.lastname@example.org
Another day, another beautiful video from Coffee Circle. This one takes a look at espresso, one simple step at a time. Very zen. I think I’ll have another.
The perfect shot of espresso is one of the greatest gifts you can enjoy in your day. It’s hard to describe unless you taste it. However, in this video you find the most important steps of preparation to follow on your way to achieve a great espresso. Enjoy! - Coffee Circle
While visiting Copenhagen, there are several places to have great coffee and try a delightful sampling of Scandinavia’s finest roasters. By walking (or biking) a straight line northwest from the city center, there are opportunities to taste coffee roasted by Solberg & Hansen, Koppi and the Coffee Collective—quite a Nordic trifecta.
Democratic Coffee Bar is one of those stops and has become one of my favorite places to visit while in Copenhagen. Opening last October in the city’s newly renovated Hovedbibliotek, Democratic takes the award for greatest café in a public library and are currently the only shop in Denmark using coffee from Sweden-based Koppi.
The space is separate enough from the library that it feels like its own space, but until their own door is installed, you currently enter through the library’s main door. The front wall opposite the bar, is made of floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the space with natural light and provide ample bar space for guests to watch the world pass outside.
The wood bar is elegant and sparse providing a natural bridge between the heavy black shelving at one end and the warm glow of the kitchen’s luminescent orange tile at the other. Each morning, Oliver, the shop’s owner, bakes fresh croissant’s and cookies on site that perfectly compliment the coffee (if they haven’t sold out).
If you’re not interested in sitting at a bar, you can take your coffee into the library’s lounge and sit among a diverse array of library guests enjoying free magazines and internet at designer tables flanked by Eames chairs. For the love of Scandinavia.
Democratic Coffee Bar
View Copenhagen Coffee in a larger map
In April I had the pleasure of touring some of Baltimore’s finest coffee establishments, including the city’s newest addition, LaMill—a transplant from LA. This sparkling new shop opened last November by the water’s edge at the Four Seasons in Harbor East.
As I approached, there were plenty of suits passing by as well as an Audi R8 parked out front—environmental features you rarely find in the neighborhoods of most independent coffee shops, but a good sign of the specialty coffee market’s growth.
The open space greets you with a standard bar layout, a pour over stand up front, alongside a custom painted La Marzocco Strada and several Mazzer Robur grinders. I ordered an espresso and a syphon of Guatemala at the bar to share with my companions and was handed a number for my table.
The coffee was delivered to my table by the barista along with a heavy cloth napkin, which added a simple but incredibly valuable detail to the experience. The espresso itself had an earthy Italian profile and was roasted a bit dark for my preference, but the Guatemala from the syphon was sweet, clean and quite enjoyable.
While I was admiring the space, Kris Fulton (manager) came out with a plate of the shop’s other specialty—fresh cut beignets from Michael Mina. Kris admitted to recognizing me and wanted to be sure we didn’t leave without trying them.
The plate was decorated with an assortment of sauces including a meyer lemon curd, Valrhona chocolate and a luscious butterscotch made with Macallan whiskey. They were the perfect compliment to our coffee and may have even outshone it.
Kris was fantastic as he spoke with us about LaMill and the business relationships that brought them to Baltimore to help develop this Four Seasons location. He also talked about their Saturday morning coffee clinics that teach customers about coffee brewing and appreciation in a comfortable atmosphere—pastries included.
The space is connected with two other restaurants (Wit & Wisdom and Pabu) in the sprawling rear lobby of the hotel which blend together nicely while maintaining their individual character. LaMill is clean-lined and modern, while providing a warm atmosphere through it’s unique lighting and dark wood textures.
If you’re visiting Baltimore, you don’t have to be staying in the Four Seasons to stop by this beautiful shop for a treat. There’s outdoor seating in the summer and it’s a great starting point to walk along the harbor and take in one of the city’s nicer views. LaMill is a welcome addition to the Baltimore coffee scene, which currently includes staples Spro and Woodberry Kitchen—and soon to be joined by Artifact Coffee.
LaMill, Four Seasons
200 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
If you’re a roaster or aspiring roaster, one of the best roaster events in Europe will be taking place in Stockholm this October. The Nordic Roaster Forum is an intimate educational experience to further the knowledge and skill of specialty coffee roasters.
I attended last year to help with the event and the cuppings, lectures and parties were all fantastic experiences. You can watch the videos from last year forum on Vimeo
Nordic Roaster Forum is a 2-day seminar where 65 roasters will gather to learn about varietals, processing, sourcing, trading and roasting. The program is a mix of lectures, cuppings, dialogue and social networking. Farmers from producing countries will speak about the coffee and the trade from their perspective. Roasters will reflect and talk about their approach. We will cup the coffees processed by these farmers and roasted by the roasters.
For more information and registration, visit Nordic Barista Cup.
Three weeks ago, I shared the announcement of Coffee Collective’s new roastery and coffee bar opening this summer in Copenhagen. Since then, I’ve been down to Denmark to meet with Klaus and tour their beautiful new flagship in Frederiksberg.
The new roaster is warming up, the Über’s been installed and a lovely row of stools are lined up at the brew bar waiting for customers to wear them in. As soon as the final permits are received, this incredible new space will be open—for what I imagine will be the most unique coffee experience in the city. Stay tuned.
The Coffee Collective
On my 4th day in Colombia, I spent the morning in Bogotá before catching an afternoon flight to the northern coast. Once all of my official business was done for the day, I had time to visit Amor Perfecto, a local specialty roaster who recently opened up a showcase coffee bar and education lab in the city.
Amor Perfecto, owned by Luis Fernando Velez and Jaime Raul Duque, is also the home of Ever Bernal, the current Colombian Barista Champion and was the first coffee company in Colombia to have someone compete in the World Championship. The Amor Perfecto roastery, which is just a few blocks from the café, is also home to Colombia’s first Loring SmartRoast.
The shop only features coffee grown in Colombia, but it offers a rotating selection from regions around the country. The first coffee I had was an AeroPress of the Boyacá, which is a fairly unknown coffee growing region just a few hours northeast of Bogotá. It has a very spicy chocolate taste profile that I don’t normally prefer, but it was really unique compared with the other coffees I’d been drinking all week.
I sat down with Luis and Jaime who told me about all the classes they provide to customers, from basic cupping to learning how to roast their own batch of coffee. Their goal is to provide an environment and experience where someone can come have a nice cup of coffee and relax, or if they choose learn everything they want about the process.
Along with their selection of coffee and a small assortment of baked goods, Amor Perfecto also offers single malt whiskey pairings with their coffee—an incredible dream come true. Sadly, I didn’t have time to stay and experience the pairing, but I look forward to doing so in the future. Unique pairings like this are something I’d really like to see and experience more of in the world of coffee.
The coffee shop and lab are on the ground floor of an old two-story home that’s been renovated to contrast a history of textures, modern lines and delicate woods. The modern furniture is illuminated by the natural light that washes through the front windows, the enclosed courtyard and translucent ceiling above the lab.
Upstairs are several rooms that include a dedicated training lab and classroom for teaching employees and friends in the industry. Everything about Amor Perfecto is considered and focused on growing the knowledge and capabilities of the baristas, roasters and interested customers engaged with the company.
If you happen to live in Bogotá or are visting Colombia for an extended time and need any kind of coffee gear, this shop is probably your best bet. Along with their coffee bar and coffee roasting duties, they are Colombia’s official distributors of AeroPress, Bodum and Nuova Simonelli espresso machines.
Amor Perfecto is a great example of how passion for coffee goes far beyond serving it. Because of their passion, the customers and baristas in Colombia will benefit greatly from the energy and quality brought to the city. Since the World Barista Championships took place in Bogotá last year, there has been a new found interest in discovering what coffee can be to Colombia besides just an export. It was great to meet the people at Amor Perfecto who are helping lead the way.
Cra 5 No. 70ª-60
For months now, there have been rumors that Denmark’s darling specialty coffee roaster, Coffee Collective, was expanding—as well as their interest in a Loring Smart Roaster. Less than a year after opening a new shop at Torvhallerne, those whispers have been confirmed with more details and an exclusive first look inside the new space.
4 ½ years ago The Coffee Collective opened their microroastery and coffee shop in a small basement in the at the time dodgy street ”Jægersborggade”. Since then the collective have opened another coffee shop at the food market Torvehallerne and is supplying coffee to shops all over Denmark. Now the time has come to get more space for roasting amazing coffees and at the same time try out yet another kind of coffee shop experience.
For the past few months the collective have been renovating an old factory building in the picturesque Frederiksberg. It will house a larger roastery with a 35 kg Loring Smart Roast, a larger office space and a coffee bar unlike any other in Denmark. Here The Coffee Collective wishes to focus more on the flavours in coffee rather than brew methods, and show just how different coffees can taste.
There will be a changing menu of brewed coffees, signature drinks and even a cupping session will be on the menu. The goal is both to get more people to focus on what they can taste in coffee as well as experience some of the amazing drinks from the barista competitions.
The roastery will be visible through a large glass wall, so you can see how the green coffee is transformed into brown, roasted beans. And all along you can relax in the shop while sipping the same coffee. Transparency is key, both in the coffee shop, the roastery and the way we do business. -Coffee Collective
While an opening date hasn’t been confirmed, I’d guess if you’re coming to the Nordic Barista Cup, you’ll have a chance to visit. Congratulations to Klaus and the crew as they continue to expand. Looking forward to walking across those liquid glass floors.