The story of Drip Van Winkle

Midway upon the journey of our life,

I found myself within a forest dark,

for the straightforward pathway had been lost

These are the words of Dante, as true now as they ever were. I am in the middle of my pathway to leave the world of coffee for a while. Why? Well, why not. I don’t think I have anything to offer coffee, at this very moment. Instead, I see a quite clear pathway for coffee in Sweden.

If I was to wake up, much later in life and investigate in whatever happened to the world of coffee in Sweden, like in the story of Rip Van Winkle, I think I’d see most Speciality Coffee Roasters having one or more outlets of their own, in one or more cities. In major cities, I’d see cafés focused on fresh quality produce popped up everywhere, with various coffees from different roasters on offer.

Thrown back into the realities of the now, I do realize that the Now provides a lot of questions as of how we’re supposed to meet the future. Is coffee merely an ingredient to provide a contemporary beverage formerly known as coffee, or will coffee be the same as we know it right now? Not saying it is easy to answer, but I see tendencies of the now that is kind of natural on the way there.

In Stockholm right now, there are a few coffee outlets that could say focus on coffee and beverage as a quality produce, on par with other produce. That means, they take coffee as serious as their food. There is for instance Kura Café, Kafé Esaias and Mean Coffee, all with people in a background in coffee that are foodies and interested in flavors in general. To me, this is a trend that we see globally, and one that hopefully will, but actually has to, increase in order for the general public to meet coffee as a gourmet product and not generic rocket fuel.

As for the coffee bars, some are serving up coffee from multiple roasters (Coffice is one of them), others stick to one roaster (like Mellquist). As great as this is for the coffee geek to hopefully find the latest great offer from a great roaster, it inevitably leads to the cannibalization we are currently seeing. New coffee roasters all want a piece of the same cake, which leads to factors like price dumping or brand awareness, over quality. There are only two paths to go, in order to stop the cannibalization; either you open up your own multiple spaces that presents your roasted coffee (like Koppi, J&N, Drop) or you get a new breed of customers interested in your product. I can’t see coffee survive in Stockholm any other way. We will see two or three micro roasteries fold, within the next three years regardless, I’m sure.

Personally, I’ve taken up some serious advice from so called coffee ‘professionals’, to just shut up, and make better coffee. This is what I intend to do. The mural has been painted. I’m stepping inside it. Like Wu Tao Tzu, I’m about to disappear.

NP: Perry Como – Dream On Little Dreamer

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2 thoughts on “The story of Drip Van Winkle

  1. Josef says:

    Sad to hear you’re leaving, even though I had a feeling you were about to. You’ve got some valid points, and I think you’re right in many ways. Hope to see you at the customers side of bars around Stockholm though! You usually have interesting topics to talk about ;) good luck in your next steps in life!!

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