Why settle for a cup of Joe, when you can have a cup of Johan? That’s the latest pitch from Kraft-owned Gevalia Coffee. Gevalia, founded in 1853 in the northeastern city of Gävle, Sweden, was bought by Kraft Foods in 1971 and is now a grocery aisle mainstay next to brands like Nescafé. I can’t attest to Gevalia’s historical quality, but what’s available now is barely drinkable. That said, it was recently chosen by the Göteborg newspaper as the “best taste for the value” compared with 8 other commodity coffees.
However, large companies like Kraft can produce engaging ads that may or may not have anything to do with the actual quality of their product. A new campaign for Gevalia is harnessing its Swedish heritage to differentiate itself from all other bad grocery store coffee. In doing so, they’re taking the Swedish concept of Fika to a global audience.
While the video above is an entertaining, but vague introduction to Fika (not to mention annoyingly stereotypical), I recently wrote about this wonderful tradition in a bit more detail. So if Johan has piqued your interest in the art of Fika, you can read more about it—along with much better coffee—over on Nordic Coffee Culture.
During my first visit to Sweden, long before deciding to move here, I knew that I could adjust quite well to Nordic culture due to its lovely traditions like fika—the Swedish coffee break.
On the train ride between Gothenburg and Copenhagen, there’s a small but lovely town on the coast of Sweden called Helsingborg. Aside from being home to Ikea’s corporate headquarters and a Nicorette manufacturing plant, it’s home to Koppi Kaffe & Roasteri—one of Sweden’s finest. Last month I posted this great video of Koppi in action and knew that I could no longer put off visiting. There is very little I love more than being around great people doing what they love and doing it so well.
At Koppi’s helm are Anne Lunell and partner Charles Nystrand who have a taste for both great coffee and design that’s reflected in their gorgeous downtown café and roastery. Natural light floods in on two sides making the space feel warm and vibrant even in the heart of Swedish winter. There’s a La Marzocco on the bar, a daily brew in the airpot and a slow bar where you can try coffee from an AeroPress, Chemex, or V60.
I had the pleasure of first meeting Anne and Charles last summer at Coffee Common in Edinburgh and catch up with them occasionally when they pass through Gothenburg. They continue to be one of my favorite Nordic roasters and consistently offer delicious and surprising coffees. For being such a small company they work extremely hard to build direct relationships with farmers and travel to origin as often as possible.
Anne has been on the Swedish national team at the Nordic Barista Cup four times and she won the Swedish Barista Championship in 2006 —finishing 4th at the World Barista Championship that year. Charles, who was crowned Swedish Barista Champion in 2005, is in charge of Koppi’s roasting and has the best facial hair between the two.
While quite small, they’re coffee is still finding its way beyond the shores of Sweden, with wholesale accounts in Copenhagen and possibly the UK in the near future. They also recently launched a webshop that will ship internationally for free with an order of 6 bags or more. So if you don’t have the pleasure of living in or visiting Sweden anytime soon, gather some friends and order some of the finest coffee Sverige has to offer.
Coincidentally, Koppi is the cover story in this month’s Barista Magazine, where you can read much more about their journey in Sarah Allen’s great interview with Anne. Check it out to further inspire a future trip to Sweden.
When Tim Wendelboe announced the launch of the Nordic Coffee Culture blog, he also hinted at the unveiling of a new brewer that he had been working on with Norwegian housewares company Wilfa (and Europe’s largest design consultancy, Designit). When the top baristas from around Scandinavia gathered last week for the Nordic Barista Cup in Copenhagen, they had the chance to test out the new product.
The new brewer, called the Wilfa Svart (Black) Manuell, consists of a matching electric kettle and carafe with a funnel hanging above it. The funnel has a flow control valve which allows the user to pre-infuse the grounds and better control the extraction time. The kettle can also be pre-set to heat water in 10 degree increments—from 60° to 100°C. Making the kettle useful for more delicate teas as well various brewing preferences.
The Svart isn’t available yet on the Wilfa site, but I hope to demo one soon.
[UPDATE] This is still in prototype stage. Tim says they’re working on implementing a scale and timer + (addressing) some design issues.
I may have missed the Nordic Barista Cup last week due to a pre-scheduled vacation, but my week long road trip through Norway wasn’t without some coffee fun. After a day spent in Oslo visiting coffee bars (which I’ll be posting about later), I left for the Norwegian Food Festival in Ålesund, where I attended a coffee and chocolate pairing at a great little coffee bar called Brenneriet.
I’d never actually tasted chocolate and coffee together aside from what’s stuffed in the occasional croissant and it was a unique test of my palette in attempting to discern how well certain chocolates paired with certain coffees.
The 90-minute event began with an introduction to specialty coffee that briefly covered where its grown, how its harvested, proper roasting, grinding and brewing, and the importance of coffee freshness. One of the most interesting points made in regards to preparing coffee (translated from Norwegian), was how 4-6 months of hard work from the farmer can be ruined in 4-6 minutes of improper brewing.
During the coffee intro, glasses where passed around containing green beans, roasted beans, and ground coffee to illustrate the transition and to add a sensory experience to the mini-lecture, which was then followed by an introduction to cocoa and chocolate that set up the experience of tasting the two together.
Gunnar brewed up two coffees on a Hario V60—a Colombia, Omar Viveros and a Kenya, Tegu roasted by Kaffa in Oslo. We were asked to draw a matrix that included the two coffees and the three different chocolates—Bailey’s Truffle, Crème Brûlée, and Raspberry Dream. After taking a nibble of a chocolate and a sip of a coffee, we would determine if the pairing highlighted the coffee, the chocolate, or if they combined perfectly. I was surprised to find that the sweetness of some chocolates made one coffee bitter, but not the other—while the Raspberry Dream made the fruit notes in the Kenya extraordinary.
I usually drink my coffee by itself, and while I’ve heard of coffee pairing being done in some restaurants similar to wine, this was my first foray into the deliberate pairing of food and coffee myself. It’s a great way to test your senses and explore the effects that outside elements can have on a coffee. Some for the better and others for the worse. If you get the chance to try something similar, I highly suggest it.
The next day I went back to cup some Tim Wendelboe coffee I brought from Oslo and introduce Gunnar to the AeroPress disk. It was a great time with friendly people who are passionate about great coffee. If you’re ever in Ålesund, Norway and looking for a good cup, be sure to stop by Brenneriet.
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.
DCILY Update: I’ve been having conversations with people in passing on Twitter recently, so I figured I would just do a quick post to announce some DCILY changes. The DCILY HQ will be upending itself from the coast of Maine and leaving the US of A (Happy 4th!). After traveling to the UK for Coffee Common next week, I will be traveling most of the summer in Europe before landing in Göteborg, Sweden.
I travel a lot, but I’ve never officially lived abroad and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I don’t plan on changing much in terms of content, other than I won’t be talking about US roasters as much. I’m excited to have access to some of the great Swedish roasters like Da Matteo, Koppi, Drop, Johan & Nyström, Love—and discovering others along the way. I’ll also be a short train ride from Oslo & Tim Wendelboe.
In the meantime, I have some things I need to get rid of:
Behmor 1600 Coffee Roaster (Sold)
1lb capacity home roaster, with 5lbs green coffee included. Owned for 1 year. Used for less than a dozen roasts—cleaned after each one. More info at Behmor
Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Electric Kettle (Sold)
1.7 liter kettle w/ temperature settings & 30 minute “keep warm” function. More info.
DCILY 10oz Coffee Mugs ($10 each)
I’ve got a number of these left. If you want these in bulk for a café or store, I will cut you a very good deal, just get in touch. See them here.
“No X in Espresso” Shirts/Stickers ($25/$1)
I still have a few of these left in various sizes. Last chance to get them for the time being. Will be looking into future distribution in the US. See them here.
The money raised from selling this stuff will help me buy more of the same (only more expensive and with funnier looking plugs) once I settle in Sweden. Thanks for the continued readership and support. Looking forward to bringing you more coffee love from new parts of the world.
Before I landed in Helsinki, most people I encountered in Stockholm warned me that the coffee in Finland is pretty terrible and it may be hard to find anything good. Thankfully I came across the blog of Finnish barista, Kalle Freese, which led me in all the right directions including to the shop he works at—Kaffa Roastery.
Kaffa wasn’t the first place I visited, but it was without a doubt, the best. The shop doesn’t have tables, just bars, and it’s tucked in the back corner of a larger building that sells vintage and designer housewares. They have a pretty extensive collection of home brewing equipment displayed on the back of a miniature truck and a stack of Barista Magazine dating back longer than I knew they existed.
What made the experience even more incredible than the coffee, was Kalle’s hospitality. He invited my girlfriend and I to the shop and fixed us a syphon pot of an Ethiopian Nekisse they were test roasting for competition. It was an amazing cup of coffee that just exploded with strawberry. Definitely the best cup I had on this trip to Scandinavia. After the shop closed, we hung around for a bit while a few other baristas stopped by to train for the Finnish Barista Competition (where Kalle recently competed in the finals). There was good conversation and an endless stream of espresso shots going around.
Depending on the amount of time you have in Helsinki, Kaffa is a little bit out of the way, just west of the design district, but well worth the trip in such a small city. If you don’t have time to leave downtown (i.e. on a day cruise from Sweden/Estonia), you can visit La Torrefazione which offers press pots of Kaffa coffee as well as great salads and sandwiches for lunch.
Another shop worth a visit is a small spot in the old red-light district, called Caneli Café. It’s run by an Iranian guy who specializes in smoothies and herbal living, but also maintains a nice stock of coffee from Swedish roasters da Matteo and Johan & Nyström. I had an AeroPress and shot of espresso while we talked about his uphill battle against the terrible quality of traditional Finnish coffee. He actually seemed a bit defeated by it all, saying that Finns learned for so long that bad coffee is what coffee should taste like, it’s hard to get them to enjoy anything else. Something many of us can relate to.
Lastly, Kahvila Sävy, is a place I didn’t get to visit because they were closed for the weekend, but Kalle highly recommended it. They are northeast of the city center and they brew single origin coffees from Turku Coffee Roasters, which I have yet to try. The photos of their pastries and baked goods also look pretty stellar.
While there isn’t anywhere near the number of quality coffee bars in Helsinki as there are in Stockholm, it’s a much smaller town with a lot of room to grow. The few who are doing it right are making great coffee and won’t leave you disappointed on a visit to Helsinki. If they do however, the city’s amazing architecture will make up the difference.
This week, Aaron’s post on FrshGrnd reminded me that I never wrote about my trip to Copenhagen back in September—more specifically my trip to The Coffee Collective. This coffee bar, tucked down a pleasant residential street in the Nørrebro district, was one of my favorite stops. It’s also close to the sprawling Assistens Cemetery that’s used more like a city park than a final resting place by local residents.
My favorite aspect of The Coffee Collective is the open design of their bar. There is no barrier or counter between the customer and the barista—everything, including a prototype of the sexy new La Marzocco Strada espresso machine, is displayed for all to see. There was a never-ending line that flowed out the door during my hour visit, but more than enough seating at the large wooden tables out front.
I started out with an AeroPress of Hacienda La Esmerelda, known by some as the best coffee in the world. The flavors were not as clear and pronounced as the cup I had at Tim Wendelboe, but still unmistakably sweet and fruity. I followed up with a really sweet, but extremely bright shot of espresso and ended with a deliciously tart cup of Kenya Gatina. The quality of the coffee, along with the relaxed atmosphere of the café and its neighborhood, make this a top destination for any coffee lover traveling to Copenhagen.
Check out FreshGrnd’s post about The Coffee Collective for more great photos of the interior and surrounding neighborhood.