Make a change

My daughter graduated from school this week. It’s a day I remember with dread from my own graduation. It was 1993, I was in a relationship that already was kind of destructive, but I was hell bent to start a new life as an working adult. When I think about it, it was kind of the same feeling I got from watching the classic Charlie Sheen film “The Boys Next Door”, who one final weekend between school and spend the rest of your life locked away in a factory, goes on a road trip that turns into a murder rampage.

I could’ve become something else, someone else I even like to think, had I not been so hell bent on growing up. Instead there was the factory, the bills and the only thing that I cared about really; drinking.

When Embla came into my life, I quit drinking. We had a good life. At least I thought it was good at the time. For the first time, I thought the world was my oyster, I had so many opportunities and ambitions. But like Douglas Coupland would call it in his master piece “Generation X”, I ended up with option paralysis. Nowhere I moved I seemed to be able to escape myself.

Instead, in Australia, I found coffee. And it engulfed me, probably to the point where my marriage disintegrated. And to fill the void between a fulfilling work and a non fulfilling marriage, I slowly turned to alcohol again.

As the marriage disintegrated, I was forced back to Sweden, which for me was a full circle back in Dantes inferno. I met Milous mom, and gradually I sank into the pits of alcoholism, from beeing someone who enjoyed partying too much, to self medicating while the family slept.

I finally broke away from that life, barely made it out alive in a really chaotic intermission with a person who was literally insane, to find the love of my life.

But even though I have a job, I have a family that I love, I have a home, there’s this void inside. A void being on my way to nowhere for myself. I let my body go, I’m exhausting myself at work doing 70 hour work weeks, seven days a week. To say I have a passion for coffee these days would be a lie. I don’t care. Sure, I still take pride in every cup served, I want noone to leave unsatisfied. But I am simply not there.

Graduation day for my daughter was building up a huge tension. I’m writing this to get it off my chest, but also as a diary to remember what takes me to these places.

I had worked non stop for 1,5 month, my wife who helps me at work had been sick for most of that week, and the stress of dealing with an ex-wife that despises me, her family that maybe not despise me but sure have no love for me anymore (and to make this understandable; it’s like being ousted from your own family after 12 years of closely living together). On top of that, my dysfunctional parents who basically haven’t even spoken to each other for ten years, were both showing up. Also, it was more of some kind of capoeira event rather than a graduation, which just makes the whole thing even more alienating for me.

It escalated quickly, I started drinking and made an ass of myself. For three days now, I’ve had a massive anxiety. I have failed those that actually loves me, and alienated the rest even further.

Despite my anxiety, I have found that I alcohol is not the answer. The realisation that I must make a change is dawning on me. And maybe it’s time to make a new path for myself. Try something new, just for me. Until I know where I land, I need to remember what matters, and who is in my life. That I’m not alone. But it’s time to make a change

NP: Youth of Today Make A Change

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The oxymoron that is Speciality Coffee pt2

As already noted in my last post, I have an ambivalence towards what we as an industry are doing in terms of environmental impact.

I do believe for companies to go to Origin and build lasting relations as well as maybe help out with issues there, be it infrastructure, social issues or ideas for future production might be, if not crucial, at least excusable for extensive travels.

One aspect of environmental impact that I can not find any excuse for though, is the competitions and various global events.

Let’s start with the World of Coffee Barista Championships. In order to compete in the WBC, you have to win at home. So for every competitor there is a huge number of competitors trying their best to make it. Not everyone goes to origin to “learn more” (whatever that means), but most buy new cups and practice extensively. The food milage on those 12 drinks in 15 minutes exceeds most fast food restaurants, I’d say. For most people just to get to the competition involves a CO2 release that should cut out their budget for the rest of the year (if you believe in these things, and ironically a lot of these people are very PC and thus are firm believers in the Human Climate Impact). And you can’t win a competition if you don’t have the fanciest cups and aprons etc, even less so if you haven’t travelled to origin and buy the most exclusive low yielded coffee on the market.

So there’s that. Also, yesterday there was an event at the Zagreb festival. Judges flewn in from all over. The more festivals, the more people travelling, the more milk thrown out at LAT’s, more stuff distributed that people really don’t need (pampflets, t-shirts etc), most of it covered with smart phones that in itself costs the Earth a massive amount of resources.

I’m not saying we should stop, but I do say that the Western part of the coffee society is turning into a behemoth of environmental impact that cannot be overlooked if we are stringent in our belief system.

NP: The Great Deciever Enter The Martyrs

The oxymoron that is speciality coffee

Recently I have given a lot of thought about the problems with Speciality Coffee. Since we’ve often been shaming systems like Fair Trade and the cynical commercial trade of coffee, all because of the farmers, it is quite liberating to look inwards at times

First of all, I don’t like a culture to be fence sitters. The speciality coffee has been an inclusive of all people and ideas up until the brink of being hijacked by identity politics the last year. As there are good intentions in speaking up about problems within a community, I think Speciality has been very quiet on topics that matter more. The environment for instance.

Now, with the risk of being ousted or become a pariah, I hereby declare myself a climate change skeptic. Not that I don’t believe in the fact that the climate changes, but skeptic to the alarmism and ultimately the blacklisting of actual science that goes against the alarmist and emotional blackmailing of the middle class, in order to create a new entrepreneurship: green washing by guilt.

But, and here is a big but, if we do believe in the Paris agreement for a minute, is the constant travelling of every microroaster to Origin several times a year sustainable? No. Is the coffee competition circuit sustainable? No. If we do believe that climate change is man made, Speciality Coffee is a much worse crook than Commercial coffee, since it’s consumed by millions with much less food milage.

But since I don’t believe in the man made climate change, and even if I believe we might have made some impact, it still isn’t enough to stop travelling right away to reach the goals of the Paris agreement in 70 years.

Jordan Peterson made a good remark on the climate change issue, that the first and foremost change of our habits is to wipe out poverty and hunger in the world. We must change the outcome for the poorest in order to change their ways in consumption (and other matters) for a more sustainable world.

Now, you can think what you want about Peterson, but his point in regards of the UN’s goals of 200 tasks is not a goal, it’s a wishlist. And among those, when scrutinized by scientists, stop flying wasn’t even mentioned.

Now, Speciality coffee has a very good track record of wanting to empower the people at the origin end of coffee (less so on the serving end), and I would like to see more come out and speak of the elephant in the room. No more fence sitting. Be an activist, but the right kind.

NP: Paradise Lost Just Say Words

Something is sweet in Denmark

Had to go to Copenhagen a couple of hours for a family affair, and revisited two haunts I’ve been to prior: the Coffee Collective at Torvehallarna and Democratic Coffee quite close by.

There’s something deeply impressive with The Coffee Collective, doing everything right imho. Its minimalistic design and approach, the coffee on batch brew was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. It got me thinking: as with Da Matteo, I think sticking to your guns and do what you do best, implement best practice and multiply is the way forward. TCC has definitely done this!

Democratic still make their own pastries. It’s still a beautiful location, but coffee focus and personality was gone. No idea who roasted the coffee, but it was a generic scandinavian espresso, no body (not even crema), quite balanced in fruitiness and acidity though. But still… I wasn’t blown away, and I won’t be back soon.

Prolog Coffee Bar is raved about in social media. It’s a very cool venue in a cool area (just around the meat packing district). The coffee was off. Tasted old. Like bad burrs, dirty filter, off roast or something else. Just off. Too bad on an otherwise nice place. Will be back to try again!

NP: Obituary Redneck Stomp

When things go South

One thing that always gets me in the US, is the fantastic service you get in most places. Bartenders are notoriously good at it, but even the supermarkets have service friendly staff, without the incentive of tipping.

One thing stands out: the Speciality Coffee bar. I’ve had great service in places like Vancouver (duh, it’s Canada) to decent (SF, Santa Cruz, Jackson (MS) and Las Vegas), to bluntly ignorant with attitude (NY, SF, Portland, Seattle and NOLA).

The South is well known for it’s hospitality. In Jackson, Mississippi, I found two coffee gems that stood out.

Deep South Pops

With craft beer on tap, home made icicles and decent coffee, stunning layout, this place was an instant favorite. They sell t-shirts etc with cool local prints, and service was simple but good. Had a batch brewed coffee and an icicle called “Arnold Palmer” (simply because an in joke with my ex mother in law). This place is easiest the coolest place in JXN!

Sneaky Bean

Simple bar, outfitted pretty much like a mom’n’pop store 2.0. Place offered local beers on can as well as coffee from local roaster Bean Fruits. Again, decent service, but a very impersonal location mostly catering for lap top crowds.

Jackson is a town without a real CBD (well there is one, but it’s literally a CBD and nothing else), instead it’s consisting of satellite areas. The area around Sneaky Bean is the most central part in the actual city, and there are other interesting non-coffee outlets.

Spending most of our days in JXN and outskirts with family, we went around various Civil War and early settlers locations, as well as ruins of grandeur long gone. It’s a beautiful, peaceful lush state, laidback and relaxed.

Our last day of the trip we went 24 hours to New Orleans. Since my wife has lived there briefly and been many times, we opted for the touristy parts for me as a first time visitor.

NOLA is a tourist city, let’s just get that stated. The infamous Bourbon Street after dark is pretty much like Magaluf in Mallorca – littered with rowdy drunken young people.

As far as coffee goes, the French quarters caters mostly for those who wants to have the “experience” of dark roasted coffee mixed with chickory and topped with hot milk.

Spitfire Coffee

Tucked away on a side street is a small cool place called Spitfire, apparently the first of its kind in NOLA serving speciality coffee (others have followed, but I didn’t have the time to go all the way there).

Now, here’s where I started thinking about what I started this text with. I know casual can be good, but having no customer focus at all is unusual in the US, but unfortunately not unusual in coffee places. It’s like the philosophy is “the coffee is so good it doesn’t need anything else”. That coffee better be damn good. In my case, I had a very average espresso, tasting like most average speciality coffee espresso that has looked a bit too much on Instagram trying to figure out this Scandinavian thing. The heat of the city made me order a iced coffee. It tasted generic and left me mostly baffled how our industry seems to have such confidence in the green bean that an execution from the barista seldom ever lives up to the expectation. It’s sad, really.

Drip Affogato bar

Drip is a bar dedicated to the affogato. Placed in the arts district, a stone throw away from the ACE Hotel and Stumptown. Not a fan of affogato really, but in this climate it’s a brilliant concept. Offering several options of various concoctions as well as flights of those, it’s the perfect lunch break getaway for a caffeinated sweet treat. Service was decent and friendly.

Other sights we saw was a tour of the Bad Bitches of New Orleans at night, visiting the original Sazerac bar at the Roosevelt (a must) as well as possibly the first bar in NOLA. I can’t wait to go back and discover more, but 24 hours was really enough for a first visit.

NP Down Stone The Crow

Identity theft

To me, speciality coffee had the appeal to do good in the world, one cup at a time. Good meaning creating a place for creative and open minded people to get together on both sides of the counter in order to spread good vibes throughout the day; the customer knowing you prepare a beverage especially for them, from beans roasted especially for your shop, imported especially for the roastery and in a chain of events making it a better place for everyone.

There are a lot of things in the way, of course. Workplace ethics, toxic relations at work between customers and/or coworkers etc. In all I would say, over time the speciality industry has transfered from being a place for creative minds that appreciate the good vibes, over hipsters that were scene police for a while and then went back to making apps or whatever they were doing before, to finally becoming swarmed by what now seems to infiltrate every inch of society – identity politics.

I think the turning point basically came with the outcry when the WCE were about to host competitions in Dubai, a nation not known for its belief in the political standpoint of for instance gay rights and equality between the sexes. Fair enough. A certain web publication known in the coffee industry for activism managed to stir up a shit storm and made the WCE back away.

Now, I think in one sense it’s correct. But first of all, WCE had already hosted the World Ibrik Competition here before (oh, that weird competition only “ethnic people” do, says all the PC hipster baristas in their minds without saying it out loud). Second of all, the comps had been hosted in China, which is basically like Dubai in terms of human rights. No outcry then. Third, maybe the coffee industry could help making a change? And fourth, and I’ll get back to this, you are representing your country as a coffee maker, not a sexual being. I know plenty of homosexuals who went to Dubai on vacation without getting arrested or harrassed. Why would competing coffee people be any different?

Now, high and mighty on their success, the activists are at it again. First a Canadian barista uses non dairy milk in his coffee to make a point, and gets disqualified. I’m a vegan myself, and I don’t want to judge milk drinks or any ingredients that have animal products in it. But, change comes from changing the rules: create a petition to change them (I’d gladly sign it), write articles, use social media. But why use a competition to make a point in order to gain light on your own high horseshow?

Then a former barista champion uses the same kind of platform to enlighten judges and crowd on the imbalance between representation in judges etc. Now, this might seem noble enough, but there’s probably a good reason for everything you see. To become a judge, you have to be a good entrepreneur or have a company behind you that see value in you taking time off work in order to help the coffee industry. There’s nothing that stops anyone to become a judge but those two things being in place for you. There are plenty of women who judge and compete, on an average they probably represent the amount of women who are in the industry to stay for a longer time and not just passing through, while men tend to stay longer in the industry once they’re in simply because they were already drawn to the industry because of the coffee and not just to earn a few bucks while studying. I know great competing and non competing women in the industry who left it and became succesfull in other fields, why should they settle for less, i e competing for nothing else but the glory among peers, because let’s face it – there are no major benefits, regardless of your skincolor, gender or sexual preference to compete other than honing your skills. And maybe get some sort of recognition among your peers. And there are no other benefits judging, than helping an industry to maintain this charade. So why do more heterosexual white men than anyone else do these things? Probably because we don’t have much else going for us. We’re stuck here. The rest moves elsewhere, with no, little or great results, but still… moving on. The ones that wants to stay and pursue a career are more than welcome to.

Another thing that irks me, is the extention of what I believe David Schomer referred to as people that should be out on a ledge somewhere. Using the coffee as an extention of your own ego has been a total annoyance from an early stage. The preacher barista who tells you why his (it’s almost always a he) coffee is superior, but really he is just wanting you to know he’s superior because it’s his coffee. It’s a form of activism that may have served a purpose at one stage to an extent, but now is mostly frowned upon.

Take a second to think if someone started talking about Jesus in a coffee competition. I use Jesus, because I find some Jesus people using him in that very same way – their own righteousness elevated through an object or identity that they’ve adapted to and became activists around. How would you score this person? Or what kind of article would you write?

If you’re saying you would praise the courage of this person, or even at the slightest say you would not ridicule him for doing this way out of context, you are most likely lying to yourself. But there are a lot of Christians in coffee. They have to withstand your cursing, your sinful music and your clothes that are not appropriate for a Jesus loving person to wear. And can they deny to serve a customer who wears a t-shirt that says “Jesus is a cunt”?.

My favorite saying is; what happens after you get offended? Absolutely nothing. Deal with it. I’m not offended by people who use the barista competitions as a platform to highlight their identity politics, I just feel it’s fucking sad they don’t know how to make proper changes within the industry by lobbying, writing articles, workplace protests or filing complaints. Anything else is just social media masturbation. You are talking to the void. And action speaks a thousand words, when twitter only allows 140 characters. And a competition only lasts until the next big thing comes along in social media. Like a latte art throwdown in some godforsaken city. Or the “big news” that a German conglomerate once was nazis…

NP: Combat 84 Politically Incorrect

The death of a salesman

This year I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, yet now I regret it pretty much, since I am not that energetic at the moment, and the timing is a disaster. I signed up for the SCA Swedish Chapter board. When I did, things looked pretty good at work, and I felt excited to be part of something that I’ve been around as a competitor and judge for so many years.

Soon things started to crumble, and I started to have less time for this obligation I had now put myself up for. Unfortunately, it felt like most people that had put up their hands, were in a very similar situation and/or mindset that I had found myself to be. And there was some circumstances that weren’t ideal, like the NC giving birth 3 weeks before the competition and ending up at ER with her child because of a virus during the very competition. And then there was the other member whose family holiday unfortunately was put under the same time. And someone elses man flu. And I had no staff to fill in for me, so I had to work the weekend, but managed to get someone in for the first days, in order to try to fulfill at least some of my obligations.

On top of this, we had several officials of Swedish coffee nobility that bailed out in the last minute leaving us in a very bad pickle, and there was some intense days communicating with the World Coffee Events if we could even host a competition, thanks to these people. One of them kindly mansplained with senior advice to postpone the competition to save money. Not possible with the World Championship around the corner very soon. So basically a shit show.

One person, a former latte art champion, has basically organized the event by herself, with help at a distance from the rest of us (I am the first to admit my input unfortunately has been minimal). Whatever good comes out of this competition, that just ran its first day, is due to her diligence, and the people around the SCA events that persistently believes in the coffee culture of Sweden.

The event actually looks great (setting reminds me a bit of London 2010 actually), but during my helping out today, there are some thoughts that I need to write down about the competition as a whole.

The competition, since I started having interest in it back in 2007, has changed, a lot. I’ve competed in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2017, and I have judged inbetween. First of all, the interest in the actual Barista Competition has changed drastically. It is a high profile competition, catching the same kind of interest as the low profile latte art comp. Instead everyone wants to do the Brewers Competition. I can understand the popularity of it, it’s relatively cheap and easy to do, but it also see there’s a problem with this. It doesn’t reflect the standard of any coffee bar at all. Neither does the Barista Competition, if you look at the coffee served, but at least it shows some skill and showmanship. I’ve had Barista competitors coffee in the bar, and it’s usually at a high level. I can’t say the same about people serving me coffee in a bar after doing a Brewers Competition, simply because the design of the competition allows you to serve the ideal coffee in the ideal context. Even the person finishing last in the Barista Comp, can use their training in a bar working effortlessly with the competition structure as a backbone.

For me, the rise of the Brewers turned every Youtube-barista into a wannabe scientist. The anxiety of trying to control your brew creates false security, and assumptions aren’t always what you think they are. Today there was a heated debate on water and water temperature for compulsory. You are not, I repeat not, going to control a coffee you get one hour to play with, when you can’t even control a coffee you’ve spent months on end trying to control. Yet, the faux-professors of the world will make it the only thing that makes a skilled barista. There’s a simple explanation for this behavior: the sure fire way to blame someone else for your failure. The level of princess behaviour today was somewhat shocking. Maybe it’s because it’s the first time I am not a competitor or a judge, but just helping out being the middle man between someones nervousness and frustration. But there’s a lack of professionality that comes with seasoned competitors. And we had one of those there, showing a great sense of understanding for the situation, but also not letting this be a setback but instead looking forward. That PMA is what creates winners, not some fucking snotnosed entitlement attitude.

But what I noticed today really, was that there’s a clash between the competition mind set and coffee culture. My idea, all along, was to make SCA a stronghold when it comes to introducing budding baristas that are not in touch with an organized education and level. In order to make the consumer more aware, it is crucial to educate coffee makers at any given level, to give them a context and a frame work what the industry and aware consumers are expecting from them. This, to me, is the point of taking the competition outside the major cities.

In all fairness, I believe a lot of the returning exhibitors to these events have that effect on the mainstream visitors. But the discrepancy between what happens on the fairground, and backstage, is massive.

It’s not necessarily the format of the competition that is the error, but the behemoth it has become on a world scale. Competitors mostly come to believe and expect stardom, and with it comes arrogance. They’re only there to get access to a world platform, that is so vastly different from the whats and the whys we have the competitions in Sweden.

In the World these things can co exist, but normally it’s industry focused. We have sponsors at the local events who are industry focused, but the event itself mostly have an audience that is focused on walk ins. At the first day of competition, there’s a big lack of industry leaders and celebrities, simply because they only want to be connected to the comps if their product wins.

I do believe in the competition, in the way I grew up as a barista in it. Comraderie, exchanging ideas, building community with your competitors, helping new comers becoming involved. I’ve seen great careers start from the competitions. Now I mostly see entitlement, lack of a positive mind attitude, despise for people not understanding our product, starfuckers and fame hunters. It’s sad. And the public watches and shakes their heads in disbelief, going back to their dark roasts and milky beverages. Because we taught them that speciality coffee is for twats.

So what is the future for the competitions, in Sweden? My main point is that we are not breeding representatives for speciality coffee in a way it was meant. We are not selling our product with this format, we are alienating the end consumer further. We don’t speak their language.

The way I see it, there are two ways. One is the unlikely way, where we become more consumer orientated, we put emphasis on the coffee culture, and how to build bridges between “us” and “them”. The World Coffee Events are not going this way at all, and I’d say it would weaken our positition even further as a competing nation, maybe for a greater good for the Swedish industry, but not for the competitors.

The other way, that to me makes more sense, is to hand over the event to these new local organizers of coffee events, like The Grid, and let them run it at their own coffee festival. They will make it a fringe festival for hipsters, naturally, but I think of it more in terms of an industry party that could bring people closer together within the industry, rather than welcoming a broader audience.

The death of speciality coffee is here. Let the sinkers of the ship keep playing their fiddles.

NP City And Colour The Death of Me

I have a dream

This year had me thinking: is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life? How pathetic is it for a 60 year old to make hot drinks for a living? It’s pretty pathetic at 45 if you ask me. But it’s not just that I’m on the verge of stumbling into a midlife crisis.

In coffee we have talked about sustainability for a long time. 99% of the time it’s about farm level sustainability, connected to the relationships and well being of the farmer and roaster/buyer, and about the environmental impact of coffee as a produce.

But, I’ve touched this subject before, how about the sustainability in the work place? How long are staff supposed to excuse low salaries in order to work with cool brand gadgets and boutique coffee? I’m not saying businesses necessarily do this out of malicious intent. But, this is the reality in many cases. If you rather rotate staff ever so often instead of giving pay rise and other benefits, is the coffee culture sustainable? Not that people should have pay rise just because, there should naturally be incentives, but they are also representatives for your business, and happy reps are a good value for the image of your company brand!

My dream is a place where you can integrate personal growth with the growth of your place. Be a socially sustainable platform.

I want the place I will create to be in line with my personal needs and desires. Combining a healthy life style, with a family life. Those are my only two reasons for having a place in the future. To be able to live off the food I make for other people, as in enough variety and healthy aspects that it’s sustainable for me. To have business hours that allow me to see my family enough and take time off every year to rejuvinate and find inspiration. To live my life ethically and morally every day without compromising in what I do for a living. I want to work with my wife, and possibly get external help from friends. Building sustainable relations across the board!

To me, speciality coffee is a place of honesty, trust and the building of healthy relations. That has to incorporate myself in the future, where I don’t work myself into mental illness and let my relations with family and friends deteriorate due to exhaustion.

NP: Gorilla Biscuits Start Today

The Way Forward

It’s that time again, to sum up the year that was.

The year before carried over some of its shit onto 2018, but soon we had a new permanent home, and a fulfilling job working for great people again, with a great product.

The summer saw the greatest heat wave in modern history of Sthlm/Sweden, and that made business slow. I worked the bar myself, six days a week, for three months in order to keep costs down. The walls crept in on me, and my health has taken a major toll. I feel exhaustion, I’ve gained weight, I’m dazed and confused at times.

In the late summer or early autumn, I got two great staff onboard, Niki who is a young greek with kitchen experience, and Nikola who is a seasoned croatian coffee/bar guy. Both adding a great vibe and team effort, making it fun for me to work again! These people work hard as fuck, and put in an effort I haven’t seen Swedish people do before. I am so grateful for their appearance in my life at the right time!

In the early part of the year, my wife raised the stakes. I had been nagging on her for a long time to go vegetarian, and she made us go vegan. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done. Being vegetarian for so long, 17 years, has been a walk in the park. Now I realize there’s egg, butter and milk in everything!

I thought giving up cheese would be hard, but it’s just like cigarettes and alcohol; once you leave it behind you don’t think about it. But avoiding dairy and eggs is a rough ride, which made us cook a lot of food at home. My wife has been an amazing cook the past few months with time on her hands being unemployed.

On a professional level, 2019 looks like a promising year. We will do good things at work, deepen our relations with Da Matteo coffee wise as well as do some more development on food and beverage, possibly involving alcohol in our line up.

For me personally, 2019 will involve much more music making. The vinyl released in the late 2018 is a swansong over something that I enjoyed doing but isn’t necessarily something I’m overly proud of. Now we have new focus, new constellations and new ideas. It’s 30 years ago I started my first hardcore band, Living Guts, that later evolved to the death metal band Cauterizer that in hindsight actually was probably my proudest moment in music. I’m eager to return to those roots.

We are focusing hard on the family, hoping to have an addition to our quartet before the year is over or early 2020. That is my main priority for this year.

Health, diet and work out will also be a huge part of 2019. Needless to say, we’ll keep going vegan, but adding mental and physical workout to the regime will be crucial! I’ve gone from survival to being top of my game, and it feels fucking good!

This is probably the most optimistic and positive update I’ve done. And I feel it. I’ve never been in a happier relationship, I’m enjoying work, and I have two great girls I love more than anything. Anything besides that is a bonus! So keep it straight, and never negotiate!

NP: Enter The Hunt: One

Stockholm Syndrome

For over a month now, I’ve been doing 12 hour shifts, seven days a week. Mostly alone, but with occasional help. This is not a cry for pity of for sympathy, to quote Dallas Green, but an interesting time in my career to reflect on. For the first time in my life, I have the toolbox to observe events from outside of myself, while participating in them at the same time.

Once you’re alone with a task, it grows on you at first. Then the walls comes closing in. Spending the lionpart of the day at work, doing the same things over and over again, becomes something of a Sisyphos situation. For someone with my diagnosis, it can be both heaven and hell at the same time. Heaven, because routine is good, the familiar is good. Hell, because you feel trapped and can’t go anywhere. Literally.

And then, you start to question your existence. What are we doing here? Who is your customer? What does the outside world think of what is done here, how it looks, how it tastes and so on. With being on the brink of exhaustion, you stick to your guns, doing what you’ve always done. This is not the time or place to experiment. But the dream of change is there.

The Stockholm Syndrome is an expression that originates from the infamous event on Norrmalmstorg, where bankrobbers took hostage, and the hostage started to take sympathy for their captors. Soon, I felt not only the coffeebar, but the whole coffee industry kept me hostage. I am 44 years old, making hot drinks for a living, and a part of me likes it, but a part of me is also scared to get stuck and have nowhere to go because of the financial situation I’m in, as well as the market for 44 year old coffee makers is really not that great.

I see the industry at an evolutionary dead end, where speciality coffee in Sweden not really going anywhere. New roasteries keep popping up, but there are no outlets where more speciality coffee is served. This industry does not need more roasteries. It need more outlets. Yet still, it seems that is really not happening (in Sweden). Quite the opposite.

Social Media has made the industry into a bubble, where it’s more about branding, co-branding and selling a life style that doesn’t really exist or has very little value to the coffee scene. Coffee people stopped drinking small batch gins and IPA’s, and turned to Natural Wines, since it seems to be a similar industry. And it is. Natural wines are an aquired taste, much like speciality coffee, with tons of pseudo science and very few outlets. Again, the industry turns to another excluding culture for help.

Finally, the narcissism of our industry is catching up with us, thus not generating new comers to our midsts, but just regurgitating old clichées with the same old cliques. Where is the real future for our Culture?

I thought I’d never say this, but reaching out to the masses in order to create an industry that leads the way when it comes to things that really matters, might be the way. My dream goal now is to take the path to become a Vegan chef. I truly believe that what the industry needs, is a hard look at what is real sustainability. Avoiding pseudo science like raw food, but staying on the path where we move towards a plant based Culture. Let’s face it: coffee is a plant, it thrives among other plants. The coffee industry itself might not be the best for our environment, and for those growing it. So we need to make a change, make progress all the way from seed to cup.

NP: Birds of Tokyo Broken Bones