Food + art in the North

 

A couple of years ago my spouse challenged her father into making a new drawing every day for 360 days. Her father, Bill Olson, is a renowned artist and thus took to the challenge as a way to grow further as an artist. For four years they have been planning this exhibition, and my spouse, herself a renowned dance artist, curated the whole thing. So for the grand opening of the exhibition, named “Bill365″ after the degrees of a full circle, adding another 5 for the days of a year and the additional 5 degrees of the observers, they wanted to give the audience something more interactive. They invited multi artist Rasmus West to make food and myself to create something coffee related to correlate as the liquid counterpart to the food. The idea with the food was to leave a trace on paper that would resemble on of Bill Olsons paintings.

Since this was at Västerbottens Museum in Umeå, I wanted to work locally with a friend who is the local coffee hero, the King of the North: Costas! He was happy to help me out, so we spent a day in his roastery, roasting and sampling coffees that would suit the local crowd as well as provide something out of the ordinary to play well against the food Rasmus was cooking. We ended up having 16 coffees on the table, and I picked 4 in the end: A Daterra sweet yellow from Brazil, offering a more generic but classy coffee flavor that would be recognisable to a non-coffee crowd, two different sample lots from Burundi that both were savory and really interesting, an Ethiopian geisha from Ninety Plus for that tropical fruit sweetness and a geisha from Janson in Panama for the same reason.

The reaction from people were very interesting. People into wine understood the sweeter, brighter, more acidic coffees immediately. Those more traditionalist were acustomed to the Brazilian, pleasantly surprised by the Burundi coffees and couldn’t really stand the geishas. All in all, I ended up brewing coffee non stop for 3 hours to people lining up, chatting and wanting to know more about coffee. At an art opening. Since the art itself was also about the craft of drawing, it went well with displaying Christian Gullbrandsons Linneus-stand for filter brewing that was kindly borrowed to me by Costas. No one failed to comment on it as being an art piece itself. A most fantastic experience for me as the coffee maker, as well as the visitors who didn’t expect this gourmet feast.

Thank you so much Costas for all the help with the coffee and gear, and thank you Bill for wanting to give your audience something out of the ordinary!

NP: Kiss “Strutter (demo 1973)”

 

One Night In Sydney

 

How to make coffee more interesting to the unsuspecting crowd? At Lanthandelns Espresso, we sort of cater for the average joe, someone not too familiar with Speciality Coffee. So how to present it to people with no pre conception of what other than generic super market coffee is? We thought a monthly theme night would be nice.

First up was Toby’s Estate from Sydney, Australia. Toby’s Estate was one of the first and greatest promotors of speciality coffee and direct trade in Australia. The company fostered its first World Barista Champion, Paul Bassett, and it took Australian coffee culture to Singapore and to New York.

I met Toby some years back, in Portland, and when he was holding a speech at the coffee festival that local promotors Johan & Nyström arranged some weeks ago, we hooked up for some coffee and a chat at Lanthandelns Espresso. We got to cup the latest coffee blend from Toby’s Estate that, hands down, is one of the best milk based coffee drinks I’ve had in a long time. It made me gravely miss Australia.

The idea behind the theme night was simple; we cup coffees from the roastery, we see pictures that the roastery presents, and make a spotify list of what would normally be played at the roastery/café in the specific roastery/café. We want people to understand that Speciality Coffee is a movement, a philosophy on par with our own on how we source our meats, vegetables and other fresh produce in the café.

That night, I made some serious flat whites to unsuspecting people, and cupped great coffees with an interested crowd of art fans. One had travelled Africa extensively and could relate to coffee just through his travels. Another had a coffee revelation from just tasting a single cup of not-your-generic-supermarket-coffee. Some see the coffee wine analogy far fetched, others come to the conclusion themselves.

We will continuously present roasters from around the globe in order to promote Speciality Coffee in the same fashion. Thank you Toby and Isabel for a wonderful evening!

NP: Hird – Getting Closer

No Cure Any More part 2

So, the saga of Kura could’ve continued. Instead I am sad to write these notes.

El banda del Jönsson

This saturday, the 12th of July (ironically the day before my daughter was born), was the last day of service for Kura at their new location. It was a small shock throughout the community that Kura was folding, since they were the beginning point of something Stockholm had never seen before.

When Da Matteo opened up in Stockholm back in 2012, it was clear I wasn’t going to be onboard the Kura ship. Nevertheless, the guys came and hatched great plans for their new space, fueled by coffee I served them. Evesdropping made it all sound very exciting, though I have to admit I never truly understood the idea of opening in a food court. In retrospective, people will always say they thought this and that, so I’m not going to say I saw it coming. I didn’t, and I certainly didn’t hope for it to end.

K25

It was decided just before opening that they were going with roaster David Haugaard instead of Da Matteo, which on a professional level disappointed me (naturally), but on a personal level saw a really great Australasian espresso crafted that I appreciated a lot. They also slimlined the tea selection somewhat, but instead offered V60’s of some of Davids fine offerings. The food offered were a 2.0 selection of what was the staple Kura menu; super salads and amazing toasts. It fitted the profile of this self proclaimed high end food court, with some of Stockholms most hyped up brands in the same room.

bespoke machine

Things started to look suspicious already on the opening night. Half an hour before opening, Kura still had no electricity. Things like these are maybe what happens when things are stressful and last minute, but it turned out it was symptomatic for the whole food court. On a personal note, I looked around the whole food court for vegetarian options. Not much was on offer, but since Kura are famous for their salads, I wasn’t too worried. My concern though was that opposite Kura was a famous burger joint, with vegetarian burgers on offer at their other store. In this space though, their only vegetarian option was salads. Details like these makes you think of the administration and organisation not being that well thought through or communicated.

cymon

Swedes are a funny bunch. The idea of offering some of the more interesting concepts under one roof sounds like a brilliant plan in most cities. Sweden, not so much. They tend to go for well known concepts, thus leaving Kura and other independant brands unexplored for quite some time. So you have the burger joint, the sushi place and the dumpling hangout jam packed, as in every other place they already have. At best you’ll grab “Stockholms finest coffee” on the way out. The foodcourt itself, K25, didn’t do any advertising or help out with promoting breakfast deals, since the majority of places mostly catered for the lunch crowd. Again, poor communication and administration on behalf of the strata that is supposed to lift the place altogether.

These are all my own analyzes of the situation from what was obvious to anyone walking into the space, knowing coffee and café environments. I guess when people realized what gem was hidden in there food wise, it was already too late. When wanting to get out of the contract, the strata would not tolerate just anyone taking over, but were picky in picking the next tennant. Thus Kura had to endure a long search to find their own right replacement. I can only say that the new owners will most likely be tennants that are familiar with the owners of the K25, and that after Kura there will be several more independants dropping off shortly. The foodcourt itself already has lost its charm, service is hurting, and walking in between lunch and dinner makes you think of nothing boutique but something very generic and sloppy. I can only think that again, quality doesn’t pay off in Sweden. Not on the high streets anyway. I’m grateful there are still cafés out there who try hard and do a great job. Kura isn’t there anymore, but their legacy lives on and hopefully in time, Swedes will know quality from crap.

NP: City And Colour - Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

Cream of the crops

My friend Christoffer Levak, who was my first contact with coffee in Sweden before I moved back, contacted me regarding an idea he had been working on for a very long time. Christoffer, who’s been working with more upscale market coffees for a while, has a dedication and devotion to Speciality Coffee, and thus wanted to create a platform where Commodity coffee and Speciality could be judged side by side, and clearly show that Speciality has the upper hand among tasters. The idea was something called “Kaffetoppen” (The Top of the Coffees”), where all coffees on the Swedish market would be judged by professional tasters, and scored on a webpage.

The format is rather simple; all coffees are judged blindly, cupped according a score sheet that borrows heavily from the Cup of Excellence and SCAA Q-grader sheets. All coffees will be judged three times before landing on the webpage with a final score, taking off any excess points in either direction and creating an average score. The sheet is not only about coffee quality, but on consumer experience: what does coffee taste like in the cup for someone who just “drinks coffee”? The result is inevitably showing, when you place really dark roasted coffee next to well roasted Speciality coffee with complexity for instance. To make sure it is not too biased, the group is based on tasters rather than coffee minded people. There are chefs and sommeliers together with roasters and baristi, but also just regular people interested in taste.

I see two benefits with this site and group. The first is offering the consumer a “professionals point of view” what good coffee is, as is common with for instance wine and beer in most media today. The second is that the non coffee professionals within the group recieves another level of understanding of a produce that has been treated as a generic product for many years within the restaurants. I’d say, within the group we’re reaching there immediately!

What especially like is the independance of the webpage, not tied to any specific roaster or other agenda than to let the consumer know about tasting experience in the cup. However, hoping to draw sponsorship from for instance web based shops who can use the results in their marketing, and also hoping that roasters see the benefit of participating actively by sending their coffees, rather than us buying whatever is on shelf where we can find it. So far, the support of this project among roasters has been very positive, and I hope this will help spread the format among consumers! Check it out on this webpage, next cupping launching its first final results!

NP: Hellacopters Toys And Flavors

Lanthandeln Espresso

So, this is my new job! For a very long time, I’ve been keeping my train job as something to always rely on, always be the bread and butter of my life, but also the never ending pain and agony of being about everything I am not about. My friend Reggie Elliot worked here before, and did a great job trying to push the envelope of what coffee can be in an environment that isn’t usually blessed with coffee (or any other produce for that matter) focus. Then Reggie moved back to DC to start his new venture, and there was a vacant spot. I thought about it long and hard, was I ready to give up the trains? And I was. Most things negative in my life, I blame the trains for: the working hours, the company policies towards their staff as well as the environment I get to serve people in. I am a peoples person, no doubt, but driving the trains makes you kind of misanthropic since everyone will show you their worst traits in one go. (Writing this just two days after Oscar winner Malik Bendjelloul (famous for the documentary “Searching For Sugar Man”) commited suicide by jumping in front a train on my very home station, I can’t get rid of the thought that it could’ve been me driving that train).

This specific Lanthandeln Espresso is situated within Bonniers Konsthall, an art gallery focused on rather large exhibition with focus on contemporary art, which means it’s a great cultural hub which is right down my alley! The audience here is knowledgable and know what they want, yet rather open minded towards new experiences. Lanthandelns focus is really fresh produce (eggs coming from a very specific farmer, keeping his hens under surveillance on camera, olive oil that one of the chefs participated in creating etc), and great coffee. They’ve chosen to work with Stockholm Roast, which is a local roastery that works intimately with a lot of foodie restaurants in Stockholm and elsewhere. I know Johan and Öner from before, me and Johan  worked for Da Matteo together, so it’s all good fun! Stockholm Roast provides Synesso espresso machines, which to me is the number one espresso machine on the market, and one of my first loves on my coffee journey. The fact that I now work on a Mazzer rober with a dosing chamber is uncanny, closing in the circles of my life (this was the set up when I first started at Ristretto in Perth).

I am also planning on taking on some international coffees to present to Swedes, which will be really exciting. Some of these companies have never been presented to the Swedish public before, but are well known within the industry! More info to come! I’m also very excited about our tea selection brought to us by Swedens number one tea dealer, In The Mood For Tea. Lately, my focus has shifted slightly from coffee to tea, and it’s great excitement to get to work with the best tea available in Sweden!

Lanthandeln Espresso also have a license to serve alcohol, which will make the After Works interesting in the future! Serving some interesting Belgian beers at the moment, as well as some Italian and French wines. I am interested in moving it forward towards some stellar new world wines. We’ll see what the future brings! This is all I can tell you for now, but I am very excited about this! Hope to see you there!

NP: Miles Davis I Fall In Love Too Easily

Back in black

tamp like a champ

This was supposed to be my year away from coffee. Sometimes you get too involved in something, and stop enjoying it. It started pretty bad, with me going to Ethiopia on a coffee trip. Not really staying away from coffee then, was I? Then it was work and no real involvement for a long time. So my idea formed to start writing a book on Swedish Coffee Culture, which I am still in progress of getting written. And then there was the Aeropress Championships, then there was this cupping group that Christofer Levak asked me to join, then I got invited into the focus group for World of Coffee in Gothenburg 2015,  and all of a sudden I was interested in a job that was available. So, I resigned from the Underground, finally, and will start working at Lanthandeln Espresso, a quality based café inside the Bonnier Konsthall in Stockholm.

Today I did a sneaky appearance before my official start on Thursday, and it was all fun and games. But also kind of an eye opener, that I am back on square one, knowledge wise. It’s a challenge, but also kind of a rebirthing for me. A chance to start all over again. With an old school Mazzer grinder, dosing chamber style, and a Synesso, I am back where I started. Pictures will follow.

NP: AC/DC Back In Black

Going South

 

I’ve been in Malmö briefly twice in ten years. When my girlfriend had her two last performances with Fictional Copies  I took the chance to go and see it, and catch up with old friends as well. The cast of Fictional Copies had rented an apartment just a block away from Möllan, which is the more residential yet funky area of Malmö. Right there on the corner of the square was Kaffebaren På Möllan, where we had breakfast everyday. Typical Italian style breakfast with a sandwich, an espresso and a glass of OJ. First morning, I bumped into a long lost mate from Stockholm. It gives you an idea what kind of bar it is, when that happens! They were serving a robusta blend by J&N, but I think one day after I got back to Stockholm, they started serving espresso from Love Coffee Roasters, so that was my bad timing.

Next stop was Djäkne, a coffee bar where my friend Luis works, but he wasn’t in at our first visit. Got served a lovely sandwich and a filter coffee with Suke Qute from Love Coffee. Great stuff. The place was one of the most stylish bars I’ve seen around Scandinavia so far! Djäkne is a multiple roaster venue, which gives both baristi and customers the opportunity to sample some really good stuff from all around Sweden. Djäkne is also a very interesting concept regarding this “coffice” trend we see in Sweden. Here they have introduced an app where you can order your coffee to be picked up at any given time, to save time.

Last time I was in Malmö, I went to Lilla Kafferosteriet, a very charming old place in the heart of the city, two blocks away from Djäkne. This time around, I didn’t have the chance really. But I had a coffee with their roaster Kristian who I find is one of the nicest blokes in coffee! He is also a mean disc golfer! Hope to catch Kristian in Stockholm instead.

Then it was time to see the mighty Dan Stenqvist of Solde. Dan used to (and still very sporadically does) write a blog about coffee that I read a long time ago. Now he, and the rest of the Solde crew, are more about being family- and businessmen, which is only natural after so many years in the industry. Solde has been around as a coffee bar for about 8 years, and they started roasting in 2010. I have to admit that the first couple of times I tried their stuff, I was yet to be impressed. But this time around, their coffee was really on par with some of the best in Sweden. It’s a very non pretentious bar, very sparse with stuff to eat (“You want a sandwich, sure, I’ll make you one..”) but always pumping.  And friendly!

Around the corner from Solde, There is the number one coffee geek place in Malmö, Te- och Kaffehuset. Only a few days earlier, Timmy had beaten me at the first round of the Swedish Aeropress Championships, but due to me travelling south, I missed out on the Swedish Brewers Cup, where Timmy also had competed. So I was lucky to sample some of his coffee roasted by Turun Kahvipaahtimo. And as it was served, owner Samuel stepped into the house and we had a lovely time, all of us and Samuels dog. I love the fact that Te- och Kaffehuset both works as a coffee bar as well as a retailer for all things coffee (and tea).

Going back to Djäkne, I ended up in a friendly disagreement with Jens Brine, owner of Impod, over the latest (fad) grinder EK43. In order to persuade me into getting what’s great with it, he invited me down to his place the following day, which happened to be next door to the Solde Roastery. Jens showed me around at his little workshop, where there were very impressive machinery and prototypes, yet to be presented to the world shortly. We ended up drinking a lot of coffee shots, and though we couldn’t agree all the way, there were very small things to agree to disagree on. In all, a lovely time with a lovely chap! And I got to see the Solde roastery quickly, where Dan had left me some really cool samples. Was too coffeed out to take pictures though.

Malmö seems to me to be a place where coffee in Sweden took off early. There is still a culture around the coffee bar, rather than a hybrid café with great coffee, great food and even great wine/beer on offer that seems to be happening more and more in Stockholm for instance. I appreciate that actually. Especially when on holiday. The rest of Malmö seemed like a charming city, and its people were very friendly. I’d like to come here more often! Thanks to all the lovely coffee peeps for your hospitality and time!

NP: Tom Petty Down South

Copenhagen re-revisited

It’s been almost three long years since I last saw Copenhagen from ground, and since I was in the neighbourhood, I didn’t want to be so close yet miss out. Time was an issue, and the budget too, so we opted for one night in the centre of town at a reasonably priced hotel close to the Central Station (and two blocks away from Mikkeler, which we entered and left in about two minutes due to the fact it was jam packed to the rafters).

Upon arrival in the beautiful, yet slightly chilly spring time, we headed to one of my favorite places, Democratic, however since it was Thursday before Easter, nearly everything was closed or just shutting down. We were meeting up with old friend Josh who would arrive shortly after in the capital, so we opted for The Coffee Collective at Torvehallarne. While waiting, we had pintxos and a lovely tempranillo at the tapas bar, feeling very European as Swedes tend to do when they can drink alcohol in a square without any real restrictions (hell, you can even buy real beer at 7 Eleven in Denmark!).

I have to say that, hands down, The Coffee Collective are my favorite coffee company when it comes to design and lay out. I haven’t yet been to the roastery, but as quirky and charming the Jaegersbrogade location is, the slickness of the Torvehallarne and the packaging, the lay out, the whole shebang, is the most impressive in the whole of Europe in my humble opinion. Very Danish, and very great! The coffee was great too, served an espresso first, and then me and Josh opted for a filter each (a Colombian and a Kenyan, both brewed very well). Again, to test the waters of being European, we chose to balance the coffee with some cava from the outdoor bar. How lovely! Then off for some late lunch at Kafe Europa in town, where you can opt for S&H coffee if you want, but I chose the Tuborg Grön instead!

That night, we had Thai food, and had thought of going to Mikkeler, however the place was packed to the rafters, so we bought some beer from the local supermarket, and went home to the hotel and called it a night. The next morning, we had limited time, so we had a hearty breakfast at the hotel, then went for a walk up towards Nyhavn (where all tourists end up sooner or later), cause I wanted to see if Ved Stranden 10 was open. It was. But even more thrilling was the coffee shop next door that I had never heard about; Coffee Lab. The venue was beautiful, non pretentious and warm but with some cool details that made it hipster worthy as well. I had an espresso of the Amaro Gayo, a coffee that is very dear to me. Needless to say, I was very excited about it!

The rest of the day we strolled around the city, looking at wonderful architecture, great design and had a lovely time. Copenhagen seems, to me anyway, very open and embracing still. We ended up having a glass of red at Ved Stranden 10, this time on the curb where they had made their outdoor serving area. Such a stylish place, yet so free from snobbery. Just the perfect pit stop for a wine enthusiast without getting robbed.

I can see myself live in Copenhagen within a couple of years or so. I’ve fallen in love with the city, and I hope it won’t be too long before I come again!

NP: D.A.D. Sleeping My Day Away

Swedish Aeropress Championships 2014

For the third year in a row, the Swedish Aeropress Championships was organized by Brian Jones of the famous blog Dear Coffee I Love You. First year was at Da Matteo in Gothenburg, and I remember taking the night bus to Gothenburg with Joanna and Simon of Drop Coffee. That year, we saw Emil Eriksson of Love Coffee take home first prize, and I actually got to see him take home third place in the world in Portland. I loved the intensity of that competition, it was so unpretentious; just a bunch of geeks in a room brewing up a storm.

Second year was at Koppi in Helsingborg, and the traveling was too unconvenient for me, so I didn’t participate. That year, a home brewer took first place and represented Sweden in Melbourne.

This year, it was too close for me to miss out, being at J&N at Work in Stockholm. So I opted to join in on the fun. For the last year I’ve been brewing coffee at home on my Moccamaster, and haven’t really cared for alternative brewing methods, so it was a good chance to dust off the old penis pump to play around. I’ve never had much luck with the Able-disk, so I decided to enhance the filter with adding paper to it as well.

hipsters with around the pumps

My method was simple: 17 grams of coffee, rather course (somewhere between metal and paper filter), upside down brewing. Added water to the top without pre-wetting. Stirred properly for the coffee grounds to leave the top and assimilate in the brew. Once settled, I stirred again. And then one more time, but filling up water to the top before that (since degassing the bloom will leave room for more water). No water weighed, no time measured. Freestyle.

judges

Judges Anders and Måns pointed to Timmy’s cup and Joanna pointed at my cup. So, I was out of the game pretty quickly, which I had kind of expected anyway. For me, this competition is a little bit like betting on horse racing. But saying that, we could soon see I was sort of on to something. Third place, John Dester of Kafé Esaias, used not two but three filters. Then the competition was down to first and second place; winner being Oscar Nyman, who used to work for J&N, but now was competing as independant, and runner up Brian Jones of DCILY. Judges said there was a clear distinction between these two cups and the rest, and it turned out they were the only people who sifted their coffees, so I guess it can make quite a difference after all!

Oscar vs Fatima

For me the greatest part was seeing the guys from Da Matteo coming up and representing. Fatima, Gabriella and Patrik were all competing bravely, and have been seen doing so this year earlier, and it excites me that a new generation are still interested in learning through competing, and participating in the community challenges! Great to catch up with people over some boutique beers courtesy of J&N afterwards, and good luck to Oscar in Rimini in a couple of months.

NP: Christopher Cross Ride Like The Wind

 

Trainspotting

Besides coffee, I do have another life. I started as a subway train driver back in 1998, and left in 2003. Then came back to it when I returned to Sweden in 2010, simply because no other work place would have me. Despite the work being very monotonous, it also presents a lot of time on my own, to contemplate and clear my head. One day I will definitely write a book on the Metro system of Stockholm. It’s a very fascinating place, with a plethora of humans from all walks of life. This are some pictures gathered during one day of work. These are my views from under ground where very few Stockholmers set their feet ever.

NP: Johnny Cash I Never Picked Cotton 

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