World of Coffee 2015

                                                            The World of coffee was an intense affair for anyone engaged in it! I was the designated hashtagger for Da Matteo, the local coffee company and more or less the host of the event! As you may or may not know, social media is pronounced dead, yet it is more than alive and kicking!

I have to be honest; I did a shitty job for my friends over at Da Matteo. Sure, I tweeted, I hashtagged, but did I give the audience all there was? No. And maybe it is because it’s such a vast exhibition! Or maybe I was sloshed most of the time..

For me personally the most interesting part was judging the Best of India. It was a serious yet rather small affair, judging the best 41 coffees India had to offer! India is a country very dear to me, so getting the opportunity to meet some of the people on the Coffee Board of India was fantastic!

In the early stage of the exhibition I was part of the local group, looking at various locations etc. It was interesting to follow up on what was chosen for each and every event! It seems, from the focus group, that the Village concept this year really took off! Various roasters, green buyers etc showed the crowd what was on offer with various cuppings and brews!

On the first days, my estimation is that probably the Village had most visitors of all!  This was the first SCAE/WCE in Sweden ever, and I do think we nailed it! It was very appreciated, and it goes to show what can be done in Dublin next year!!

NP: At The Gates All Life Ends

Fire in the house

syphon sally

My girlfriend was the producer of a large cultural symposium at Moderna Muséet and Moderna Dans Teatern. It was very visual, and very high end, and she wanted me to make coffee at one of the events as a small event in itself. Since it was a cultural event, and not mainly a coffee focused crowd, I opted for the Syphon as my brewing metod (borrowed kindly from Lanthandelns Espresso), pushing three different coffees through from Da Matteo coffee roasters; a natural Brazilian, a natural Panama and a washed Kenyan.

With a lot of international guests, it was actually quite a lot of knowledge floating around during the session. People knew their stuff, and one of the producers of a show was based in Vancouver and knew heaps about the local scene there. We actually shared mutual aquantancies around the world in coffee. It’s very rewarding when people from more coffee centric countries than Sweden gives you a thumbs up.

NP: The Cardigans – Burning Down The House

A Death in the Afternoon

Barcelona. When you utter the name, you know it’s for real. I was supposed to write this blog post for an international blog but I decided to just write it down for my own memory’s sake. Why? Things move too fast in Barcelona at the moment to be tagged into a right there, right then kind of moment.

I was happy to be around in Paris around the time when things started to become serious. I was equally happy to be around in Berlin when it happened. And Barcelona is happening, but probably at twice times the speed. Most places with a rep are already either opened their second space, or looking into do be doing so within the next six months.

Let’s start at the foundation of things. For as long as I can remember (which isn’t very long, to be honest), Right Side Coffee has been the one and only coffee hub to talk about. Also, just days before I left for Spain I got the tip from the people at La Marzocco that True Artisan Café was something special, and there was my old friend Elisabet, who judged me at the barista competitions in Sweden back in 2011.

I contacted Joaquin of Right Side early on, and he kindly invited me to the roastery, which is situated in Castelldefels, a small town just south of Barcelona, with an amazing beach and a beautiful ambience. These guys are fantastic people and Joaquin is one of my favorite roasters. As I kept coming back, I saw the roastery develop into a beautiful workshop space for customers and baristi to train! Even though I’ve been to a fair share of roasteries, this truly felt at home for me. It touched a place in my heart that will never disappear!

True Artisan Café, also the host of the La Marzocco distribution in Spain, is an absolutely stunning place, with top hospitality people. I made sure this was my living room for most of my stay in Barcelona as Ionutz kept pouring me guest espressos of various kinds from a rotating menu. As Ionutz is a vegetarian, I greatly appreciated his sandwiches as well! We had some great times, doing cheese, wine and beer around town as well. Who would have thought you’d meet your Rumanian brother in a Spanish town?

Not far from True Artisan is Nomad Coffee Productions! Great people, wonderful space, fantastic coffees! The space itself is both a café and an educational space, which unfortunately reduces the opening hours. From what I gather though, there is a second location, with an in house roaster, happening in Poble Nou. I also had the opportunity to have their coffee at the big local open market Palo Alto around the same area, which was a fantastic way to showcase their coffee (my girlfriend thought it was the best cappuccino she ever had in Spain, period!).

There were other spaces in Barcelona which we didn’t really have much more time than a single visit to, but that we liked nevertheless; Satans CoffeeSlice of Life, Onna Café, Alguero Café, Cosmo Café, Caravelle and Skye Coffee are all worth a visit!

So many things are to be said about Barcelona and its coffee scene. I got invited to a fantastic showcase of the direct trade relation coffee that Right Side does, at True Artisan Café. Then we headed off o Satans Coffee Corner for a “drunken aeropress throw down”. I ended up judging with none other than Javier Garcia and Henry Brink, and we will never forgive Ionutz for his blending coffee with avocado.

Coffee in Barcelona is on moving fast! Just days before we left, Coutume, of Paris and Tokyo fame, opened up a location here. To me, this means there is something happening in this city! Can’t wait to get back, or even better; move here! I love Barcelona!

NP: Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé Barcelona

 

Non coffee related noise

I always wanted to be a musician. My grandmother was an opera singer, my uncle is a rather famous producer and my cousin is a budding house producer about to go places. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I got caught up in the tape trading business within the death metal community. We had a band that disbanded back in 1995, and after that I didn’t play one single tune. But then I started working at a place where I met this guy, Matt Slammer, who asked me if I wanted to join him for a rehersal with his band cause he thought I looked cool. I said that I’d loved to. Then he asked me if I played an instrument.

My first rehersals I can’t remember if I even had my own guitar, but soon we recorded a cover song for a tribute album, and then we did some gigs. We recorded some more, and my probably biggest claim to fame is a split 7″ vinyl with Hellacopters. Then I got my first daughter, and we left the city. The band continued, but with a friend of mine on guitar instead. A couple of years ago, I hooked up with Matt Slammer again, and we decided to put the band back together. We’ve been rehearsing new songs for an upcoming album, but we had to rerehearse some old tunes for a live set. Our old drummer invited us to open up for his new band, and so we did. This is the opening song, which is typical Weaselface rock’n’roll with lyrics by the Trash Poet.

 

High And Dry

ice cold ice

Just like this image I took a couple of days before New Years Eve, it may all look dark and cold where I am right there, but on the horizon there’s new light. How is that for a tacky analogy?

2014 ended with some of the best personal highlights and some low marks as well. First of all, my second daughter was born in July. I have been extremely blessed with my first born daughter 13 years ago, to say me and her mother raised her well is not giving her too much credit of everything she has achieved by her own account, but yes we were there to support. Writing this, she’s with her mother and her mothers new family in Brazil for seven weeks (lucky bastards) doing nothing but capoeira, spending time on the beach and eating fresh fruits from the trees. My second daughter is like experiencing it all over again, and I actually start to believe lightning can strike the same place twice (another cliché added to this text).

The second highlight of the year was me leaving my McJob on the train side of life, and getting back into coffee. It’s amazing to work alongside such talented and gifted people in a kitchen. However there’s not too much coffee on my plate, it’s far more on the cooking side. My interest in cooking at home has really taken off, and it has sparked other sides of me that really needed to be overseen, such as the health aspect of life.

For far too long, I’ve indulged in alcohol in a way I’ve lost control over. I am no longer a drinker, I am what the AA call a problem drinker, or more bluntly an alcoholic. I went to the AA in the late 90’s cause I couldn’t handle the situation any longer. Back then, it was more what I did when drunk, rather than the drinking itself that needed to be stopped. All the violence got me into grave anxiety attacks that was gonna see the end of me. I was completely sober for about seven years. This time around, I am seeing a whole new aspect of drinking that I thought didn’t really apply to me; self medication. I want to do nothing but getting down the rabbit hole and disappear, in order to cope with the real world. You see, I feel the world today is a little bit like The Matrix in reverse (oh no, another tacky analogy); a lot of us hide online where life can seem a little bit more bright, in order to get away from our every day chores. If my life looks a little bit more glamourous in the bits and pieces I share, it will also feel that way. It’s a spiral that goes nowhere fast.

I called up an old friend who’s been going to the AA for a long time, and I tagged along. I’m not going to say I was reborn, but it was a good reminder of what I am. As I will keep going there, I will also try to remind myself of who I am. And for that purpose, I find myself at the mercy of spirituality and hard work out as a combo that has been working for others, and then hopefully for me. I have to remind myself that, in the words of Tom Petty, ‘my load is wide, my street is narrow’.

In the midst of my happiness and personal hell (I am a person of extremes) my beloved friend and companion Max died. He was a Jack Russell we adopted 5 years ago, I had sworn never to be a pet owner again, but my daughter and ex wife insisted, and when we got him I fell in love with him. He became a baby that slept in our bed and ate at our table (well, he tried to anyway). That cheese loving, ball crazy dog. When we divorced in 2012, we shared custody. He was with me on my first date with the mother of my second child (which a friend of mine said; “bringing that dog on a date is practically cheating”), and he became a beloved family member of our new little family, since my ex wife got allergic and couldn’t share custody anymore. One night when I got back from work, my ex wife was at our house with her sister, helping my oldest daughter to paint her room, and Max had fallen severely ill. We knew he wasn’t in the best shape, but it was almost like he had waited until he had everyone in his life around him to say goodbye. I took a taxi, naively hoping to give him a shot and return with him shiny and happy as always, but ended up with having to look into the eyes of my best friend when he died in front of me. I have never cried so much and hard in my entire life. I still get tears in my eyes thinking of him. Goodbye beloved Coogee Beach bum. Very few dogs have experienced what you did, and I am happy for all the love you gave. Heaven is a Western Australian beach with endless supply of balls and cheese, I am sure! See you there buddy….

As for 2015, I think this is the year, in general, that will bring back an analog lifestyle for a lot of people. Social Media has been proclaimed dead by experts, which I think has been happening for a long time. The second year on Twitter for me, saw the first year recycled. There was nothing new, only the same things recycled. Following people on Instagram and Twitter has become less about what these people can offer as knowledge or where to look further for knowledge, but a map of what brands they use and what little clique of people they want you to see them with. We know of course that social media has been a lot about building your personal brand, but it’s imploded with the co branding and the high fives and the hang around crowds wanting in. The response to this will be closed circles not giving away anything outside their own crowds, and people focusing more on relevant socialisation AFK (away from keyboard). And as much as I find all these peoples photos from their gym sessions, I still think that is what social media will be more about; finding people that inspire you rather than snooping around what beer label and coffee person they’ve been hanging out with.

Speaking of coffee, I think the paradigm of coffee awareness amongst people outside the coffee crowd is still waiting to be happening. Instead I think we will see the continuation of coffee as one of many produces of high quality more cafés will look into. Actually we see a bit of reverse focus happening, where for instance Drop Coffee has started a very interesting focus on food to compliment their coffee menu. Will more people follow? I think so, and I still think offering overall fresh produce with the same care as coffee is the way to attract the mainstream crowd. Speciality tea and Kombucha are expected to be the next staple hipster choices in Brooklyn, so we’ll see it in Stockholm by 2016 more as people “living in New York for 2 months” adapts it and take it home to what they believe is the “6th Burrough”. I mean, Raw Food is finally finding its way to Sweden for Gods sake.

For me personally, 2015 will be about music, literature and food. We reunited a band I was in some 13 years ago (yes that’s me 20 kilos lighter) for the sake of a gig, and as the gig was cancelled we’re now in pre production of an album set to be made on vinyl only in 2015. I am currently working on a book on Coffee Culture in Sweden, and hope to finish it by September, but we’ll see… Maybe I’ll just be an Alexander Supertramp and step Into The Wild.

NP: The Eagles In The City

 

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

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