33 Hours in Oslo Speciality Coffee Scene
What is there in the cup, when you wander around Oslo checking out the trendy coffee shops, enjoying a cupping with legendary Tim Wendelboe and visit Kaffikaze, the Norwegian version of Coffee Festival?
Oslo. One of the Nordic coffee capitals. Known for its high-end coffee shops and roasteries, not forgetting that the Alf Kramer, first ever President of the Specialty Coffee Association SCA (at the time Speciality Coffee Association of Europe SCAE), was a Norwegian!
This caffeinated city was the destination for the Finnish Barista Association having its field trip on 30th September – 1st October 2017. There were six of us coffee lovers including both professionals and consumers traveling together to experience the Oslo way of coffee.
Cupping and more with Tim Wendelboe
Our day begun at the premises of Nordic Approach where Tim Wendelboe warmly welcomed us to hear about coffee farming and enjoy a cupping.
Tim started working as a barista at Stockfleths in 1998. He won the World Barista Championship in 2004 and World Cup Tasting Championship in 2005. After starting as a freelance coffee consultant and a barista trainer in 2006 he founded his own espresso bar, training center and micro roastery simply named “Tim Wendelboe”.
He has won the Nordic Roaster competition in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and was awarded the Allegra European Coffee Shop Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the European Coffee Industry’ in 2011 and the Allegra European Coffee Shop Award for “Best Coffee Roaster – Europe” in 2013.
Tim’s way to origins
During the first part of visit, we heard about Tim’s work in the origins, where he spends a lot of time working hands-on and helping the producers to develop their coffee quality. From the beginning, when he founded the company, he wanted to do the coffee sourcing himself. Only the high quality coffees were in target and that is why he ended up sourcing “Cup of Excellence” lots.
In a couple of years Tim learned that there was usually a very long delay in the deliveries which had a huge effect on the green coffee quality. On 2009, he moved on to work directly with the farmers. In that process “Cup of Excellence” was in a role of some kind of a coffee hub or “A Tinder of coffee sourcing”, as he says.
Nowadays when working with the farmers Tim is helping develop the current methods used on the farms. This can be for example encouraging the farmers to build higher beds for drying the coffee and also to use shades to achieve better quality. He also researches the coffee plant itself and follows closely to the farmers when they are developing different coffee varieties. For example one of the farmers, Moises Caballero from Honduras, has 50 varieties in the nursery for test farming at the moment.
Tim is an advocate for biological farming having a holistic view on the process. He gave us an example: the leaf rust, a common worldwide pathogen fungus causing problems for the farmers. The life goal for leaf rust is to kill plants that are not healthy. It is clear that you need to keep your plants in good condition to avoid the leaf rust. See more for example from this SCA blog post about basic plant biology. Keeping the plants happy can be done – among the many other methods – by spraying “good” fungus on the coffee plants. A more basic thing is keeping the soil nutritious and balanced. To do that, the farmers might turn coffee cherry fruit into a good quality compost that is used on the farm as a fertilizer. It is also crucial to give the compost enough air to keep all the good nutrients in and alive.
Cup that coffee!
After hearing about Tim’s work in the origins, we moved on to cupping. We tasted several coffees, some of them from the existing selection of Tim Wendelboe roastery, some of them yet to be developed. It was interesting to taste the same coffee with different roast profiles seeing the naked truth of significance of roast profiles. Also, it was interesting to taste the same coffee with different harvests – the first one was hay-like and underdeveloped and the later one was sweet and full of red berries and even exotic fruits!
|Finda Tamana SL 28 (Huila, Colombia), washed, two different roasts: sweet, black currant, flowers.|
|Nacimiento Pacas (El Cielito, Honduras), washed, two different harvests (March 2017 and May 2017): red berries, chocolate, cherries.|
|Nacimiento Bourbon (El Cielito, Honduras), washed, two different harvests (February 2017 and April 2017): chocolate, cherries, red apples.|
|Nacimiento SL28 (El Cielito, Honduras), washed: cherries, black currant and floral.|
|Nano Challa Ethiopian Heirloom (Agaro, Ethiopia), washed: citrus, stone fruit, flowers.|
|Karogoto SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11 and Batian (Nyeri, Kenya), washed: intense, floral, black currants.|
|Caballero Catuai (Chinacla, La Paz, Honduras), washed: plums, red apples, chocolate.|
|Caballero Java (Chinacla, La Paz, Honduras), washed: chocolate, green tea, spices.|
|Caballero Geisha (Chinacla, La Paz, Honduras), washed: tangerine, jasmine, papaya.|
|A bonus track from the visitors to the master: Samples Coffee: Slopes of Eight peaberry SL28, SL34 (Kirinyaga, Kenya), washed: dark berries, currant leaves, hint of chocolate.|
We completed the day one by visiting Kaffikaze coffee festival. As many of us had visited coffee festivals in London, Berlin, New York, Tallinn or Helsinki, we had quite clear expectations. Knowing the status of Norway – a vivid and ambitious coffee country with a Nordic twist – we were a bit surprised by the size of the festival.
There were quite a lot of visitors and the exhibition hall was relatively small. All the 19 stands were tiny and also the space between them. Based on a quick glance, there was a lot of Kenyan coffee served and presented. Also, there was approximately as much filter coffee available as espresso and that’s quite Nordic. Hardly any milk was present, Oatly was the only one having their own stand. Also cold brew was seen at two stands, tapped and bottled, also nitrogenized. Coffee machines were covered, too. Visitors could attend for example coffee shot ping pong, latte art course, cuppings, coffee quiz, smelling test, tasting test, grinding competition and roasting their own coffee. There was even a tattoo company providing their services.
Apparently the organizers did not expect international visitors as the information was given in Norwegian, however everyone were kind and explaining their thing in English if asked.
The crowd was excited, and it seemed that the stands were so crowded that it was not possible to see and try everything you wanted to. At some stands the baristas were serving huge amounts of coffee not having time to really talk about their products with the visitors. As it was a very warm day for the time of the year, it was good to go out and then back in again as it got very hot inside during the afternoon.
The atmosphere was nice, however we did not see anything new or spectacular. What I will remember from this event will probably be the smelling test. There were several liquid aromas like cucumber, vanilla etc. that you should smell and recognize according to a list provided. It seemed very easy yet was a bit challenging especially regarding particular aromas.
We also attended the after party, which was quite crowded again and seemed a bit like a party for the inner circle of Norwegian coffee scene or at least for the local coffee people. There was some unconventional evening program but also the Norwegian Aeropress Championship. Among the 27 competitors, Knutsen Sander, a home barista and a coffee enthusiast won the title.
Oslo coffee shop hopping
Day two was all about seeing some interesting coffee shops and tasting as many coffee as possible without going (even more) nuts (than we naturally are).
Tim Wendelboe (Grünerløkka)
A small, simplistic and very hip café.
1. Nano Challa (Ethiopian Heirloon, Agaro Ethiopia)
- Citrus, stone fruit & flowers
- Espresso: A bit under extracted.
2. Caballero (Catuai, Chinacla La Paz Honduras)
- Plums, red apples and milk chocolate
- Espresso: Balanced.
Supreme Roastworks (Grünerløkka)
Cosy yet trendy café selling a lot of coffee merchandise, too. It was a very busy moment in the café so not really time for a chit chat with the barista.
1. Ethiopia Diima (Mixed Heirloom, LOT3, Gigessa Guji
- Fresh and floral, clean and fresh flavor, pineapple and passionfruit, delicate and fresh aftertaste
- V60: As it can happen with naturals, the most dominating aroma and the taste was cowshed-like.
2. Colombia (Caturra, Orfa Osorio, Tarqui)
- Floral and sweet aroma. Fresh herbs and fruity caramel. Clean, soft and fruity.
- V60: Caramel was obvious, and the coffee was clean in taste and aroma.
You could call them traditional as they have been roasting since 1879! The cafe we visited was inside Mathallen, which was also a place to see itself.
1. Kiruga (Kenya, Nyeri)
- Sweet aroma of vanilla and berries, tones of forest berries and cloudberries.
- Kalita: The coffee was very over extracted and the barista kindly made us another brew. It seemed there was originally something wrong with the recipe.
Brugata Lanthandleri (Grønland)
A restaurant with coffee. Earns to be remembered especially for its delicious lunch and extremely helpful and kind staff!
1. Kaffa La Estrella
- Among others at least marzipan and cacao in the taste. There was no information on this coffee online so we are missing a full description, sorry.
- There was a Modbar in the café and the friendly waitress told us she is not a barista but was willing to prepare us 6 espressos. We might have disturbed her working a bit by taking pictures and asking questions and the result was six quite uneven shots and partially burned, too.
Stockfleths, Karl Johans Gate
Coffee shop from the earlier waves with a modern twist. Stockfleths coffee shop chain was the place where Tim Wendelboe started his career as a barista.
1. Laranjal (Mundo Novo, Catuaí, Gul Bourbon, Icatu, Brazil)
- “Partially natural”
- Dark Chocolate, nuts, yellow plums in the aftertaste
- V60: Something wrong with the preparation, did not seem to work on a regular way.
2. Kagumoini (SL28, SL34, Kenya)
- Sweet, red berries and jammed pears
- V60: Currant in taste, juicyness.
Bye bye Oslo
All in all we had a nice visit in the beautiful city of Oslo. For me the best part was Tim’s presentation and cupping with him. I will for sure keep an eye on the Kaffikaze. It might develop bigger and also easier to wander around and see and hear things. When traveling to Oslo next time, I will check out more coffee shops and roasteries as those we saw now were interesting, inspiring and waiting for us to come back for more!