My first stumbling attempts in the “coffee industry” was one of those places where they put whole beans in the hopper, and pre ground coffee from the Supermarket in the chamber, making you turn the grinder on so the customer got the impression you were doing something right. Dodgy, I know. This was in a time where Sweden’s now biggest Speciality Coffee roaster were still pretty unknown and a barista was someone who knew a whole lot of silly drinks off a menu (remember the t-shirt “I know Karate, and 7 other Chinese words”? It could easily have been printed with an Italian coffee drink on it).
When moving to Australia, I knew I wanted to be in the coffee industry, and I got to work alongside some of Perths finest, most of my time spent at Ristretto Espresso Specialists, but also a short stint at Spring Espresso. The former exploring espresso extraction, Aeropress and V60 brewing, the latter trying to understand latte art and syphon brewing. Getting back to Stockholm, I had with me a fair bit of Australian coffee culture (one that has spawned barista champions that are ranked among the highest in the world, both within the WBC format, and the coffee expat communities globaly).
In order to remain in touch with my Australian friends, as well as giving some sort of perspective on Swedish coffee from an outsiders point of view, I started a blog I called Syn City, named after the nick name we at Ristretto gave Perth because of the high density of Synesso espresso machines there.
The Syn City blog turned into something it was never supposed to be; some sort of opinion on the industry. This is an attempt to be more honest about my opinions, stand points and biases. Naturally, when looking at the differences in coffee between Australia and Sweden (or any given country and Sweden), it has been hard to see how Sweden can be so far behind everyone else. I think now I’ve identified some of its problems. The tax system, the culture and the volume is some of the issues Swedish coffee struggles with.
I’ve focused enough on this in my former blog, and I intend to focus on the good things in life instead. I’ve made enough enemies, and been back stabbed by people I thought were friends, to the point where I realize that this blog has to be about my own development, and not about the Swedish coffee industry (nor the industry as a whole, unless I’m in the centre of where the action is and actually have some substantial thoughts in the matter).
The working title for this blog is No Heroes In Coffee, which to me comes from the epiphany that I’ve far too long been wrapped up in the chimera that I as a barista is somehow making a difference through serving drinks, talking about farms and flavors, and then tweet it up to likeminded people across the globe (Kura Café has a t-shirt that says “I Make Hot Drinks For A Living” which summons it up pretty well). Very few people actually make a difference in coffee. You could argue that your morning coffee makes the life better for so many people every day, but a hero? I’ll stick my chin out and quote Bret Easton Ellis; A Hero Is An Insect In This World. Being a competing barista, I can see that my eyes will open up a little to the world where the product I work with every day comes from (this idea of “Origin”). But what does it really do to me? And how could I make any difference to the people working with it? How could I, in my present role as a coffee maker basically, be anything but a coffee tourist? There are a handful of people out there that I admire within the industry, that actively are trying to make a difference to the people growing coffee. One day, I’d very much like to have accomplished something that matters, but for now I’m not going to lie and say I have a relation with a farmer I’ve visited a week on holiday, gave a t-shirt and took a picture with. And even if I did make a difference, would I be considered a hero? I would still like it to be profitable, both for me and the farmer.
My hope with this blog is to record and document my own journey into coffee. I wish not to be an asshole with an opinion (even though inevitably people will still consider me to be just that), but someone who wants to know more about a product I love, work with and consume large quantities of myself.
NP: Doomriders Heavy Lies The Crown