Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Man In The Mirror, the year that was, 2013

the things that binds us

When I was a kid, I somehow made it up that 13 was my lucky number. 2013 is the only time in history I will live on a year that has 13 in it, so naturally my inner child superstition had its hopes up. And it was a fairly decent start. We had just established the pop up store of Da Matteo, I was living at a friends house in a very upscale area of Stockholm, and was supposed to be there for two years at least.

When summer started creeping in, we realised Da Matteo was counting days, and my friend came back due to complications with his American visa. What was supposed to be a couple of months in summer, and us moving back in very shortly afterwards, turned us eventually homeless. Or at least without a home of our own. My mental health started to show its real self, and I was very quickly hitting the wall while balancing out 40-60 hours of work at Da Matteo, night shifts every other weekend on the trains and on top of that having to find roof over our heads, not only for myself but for a girlfriend, a daughter and a dog as well. The stress finally took its toll, and around midsummer, I took sick leave never to return.

Instead I went to San Francisco and Santa Cruz. The old t-shirt print “Mercenaries Never Die – They Just Go To Hell To Regroup” has been a motto of mine for many years, and though San Francisco was as far away from hell it could get, it was all about myself regrouping. And from California, we returned to Sweden but went up North and had the best summer I’ve had since I was a kid probably. No work, no worries.

Coming back to Stockholm was a little bit like when I got back from Australia in 2010. The inspiration from California, and the realization that this will never materialize here was kind of depressing. Sure there are people in Stockholm doing great things, but they’re suffering since they not only have to recreate themselves all over again, but also have to create the market instead of just feeding it.

Also what I learnt about myself in California is that I know where my taste profile belongs. What I had at Four Barrel and Verve is what I learnt that I appreciated with Da Matteo when I got here in 2010, and that hasn’t changed one bit. It made me aware that my passion lies not in brewing the coffee (hell, I prefer batch brew over V60 any day, even invested in a Moccamaster) but learning more about it from seed to cup (ye olde cliché). Fate took me to Ethiopia in the later part of 2013, and it opened up my eyes towards reality of growing, sourcing and buying coffee. It is a long way to the top, if you want to rock’n’roll. Deal with it! And I will…

I made a deal with myself not to get too involved with coffee for a long period of time. It’s an oath I might have to break eventually, and what I really meant was that I won’t work in coffee publically for a while. I am, to say the least, not that interested in serving coffee to people who needs an explanation ‘what’s so special with this coffee’, or geeks coming up comparing every gram all coffee bars use in every little part of the city. It’s very uninteresting, counter productive and uneducational. By telling people that coffee is made up by numbers, we’re shunning people rather than make ourselves approachable. And that is a culture I am over.

For myself, my own health and sanity, 2014 will be a year focusing on mental balance. I need to take up yoga, meditation and exercise, I have quit drinking and my approach is fueled by a renewed interest in spirituality and the non-divine secular buddhism as well. My other interests, photography, writing and music, must have a more prominent part in my life. But family first! To take that renewed interest in coffee, to the level where it becomes a new awakened passion again, it has to be sustainable, long lasting and an integrated part of my lifestyle. I have plans, let’s hope they will materialize in 2014! See you on the flip side…

NP: Duran Duran Hungry Like The Wolf

disclaimer: found this little blog piece interview I did, speaking of trends in coffee now and in the future. Let’s how soon this will happen, if it will at all!?

Bags outside the Box

single origin bags

 

It’s been in the making for a long time, longer than I can remember actually. Even though I have been disconnected from Da Matteo since the summer, I have been a part of the process that eventually has lead up to this stunning result, which I am very happy about and thus feel that I want to share (though my impact on the final result is rather minimal).

The logo came as a pleasant surprise. In an era when people tend to put two beans together to form a heart with various results, I find this rather industrial and modernistic bean to be timeless and classy, yet contemporary enough to make it memorable. Also, going from the old “Torrefazione” to “Kaffeaktiebolaget” in Swedish (“Coffee Inc.”), is very fitting since Da Matteo is working on a Swedish market with the customer wanting to be close to the origin of the roasted coffee, and not affiliated with the Italian style that Matts helped popularize in Sweden back in the 1990’s.

symbols

These little symbols are darlings of mine. If you remember the menu that big chain Espresso House “borrowed” from us, these were what the symbols should have looked like when I explained them to the designer Jesper Tullback. My association goes to wine lists, that usually holds similar pictured profiles of Cows, Fish or Chicken for instance.

flavors

“acidity, sweetness, body”

I really like this in theory, much as in the beer world that it is most likely most known in. However, what I find is that it is only useful if you compare this to other coffees/beers you are aware of already. “If this is full bodied, that would be medium bodied”. However, I guess it helps the customer to find a coffee that is for instance more sweet than acidic. Regardless, it looks good!

 

"Smell here. Squeeze the bag and you can feel the aroma of the coffee"

“Smell here. Squeeze the bag and you can feel the aroma of the coffee”

This is a lot of humour! My ex mother in law used to squeeze the bags all the time. She never drank coffee, but she loved the aroma of them. I love this! Who ever came up with it is a funny (wo)man!

the advantage of roasting with a Loring

the advantage of roasting with a Loring

Not sure who came up with the slogan at first, but I think it’s brilliant. And the logo for this slogan/branding is cool and futuristic, and still a play on what in Sweden is known as “Svanmärkt”, one of many environmental certifications. And probably a bit more commercially viable than my idea of doing a “CR/CT” logo with a hint to the AC/DC logo.

vintage espresso

vintage espresso

Da Matteo used to have three espresso blends, each named after the three first outlets, Vallgatan, Magasinsgatan and Passagen, where Vallgatan was the more acidic blend, Magasinsgatan the fruity one and Passagen a more classic style of espresso, a passage to a newer dimension in coffee if your original preference was the Italian style. Now, the espresso has been cut down to two versions; the “1993” blend, which is the year Matts Johansson started the café Java in Gothenburg, and “2007”, the year Da Matteo started roasting themselves. Basically the “1993” blend is a nod to the classics, but a much more stylish product than any Italian you’ll find. It focuses on sweetness, as the “2007” blend focuses more on the fruitiness and acidity from the Third Wave coffee scene.

tight squeeze

 

Is there something I am not too fond of when it comes to the bags? Well, the resealing function isn’t there anymore, which is not a problem for cafés, but for home consumers like myself, I have to come up with my own solution (see picture above). I really love how café El Beit in New York had their bags coming with a small clip for the customer to be able to close the bag with, since they had the same kind of non-resealable solution. However, I do like that it is sealed in a way you don’t need scissors to open it up.

I see a lot of companies struggle with packaging, design and concepts that needs to last over time. This didn’t happen over night, it’s been a lot of long calls, discussions and ideas thrown out the window. It’s like when you were part of a band and part of the songwriting. When you quit and the album comes out, it sounds different, but you can still hear the little contributions you made. And it makes you proud!

NP: The Accidents – 20000 drinks ago