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Gaggenau Interview: Coffee is Culture

Here is a transalted version of our latest interview in Gaggenau…

Interview by Nikolai Lang-Jensen

Coffee is more than a drink. More than an aid to wake up at. 07. Coffee is culture, like food and art. 

The people of the cold north know what we are talking about.

Scandinavians are known for their close association with nature. They have deep respect for nature, and the Scandinavian “New Nordic Cuisine” focuses on the thoughtful use of natural products. It’s the same with coffee. The Scandinavian coffee culture is characterized by light burning, which allows the coffee beans to develop all their aromas. You can taste soil, height, sun, wind and rain in a cup of coffee. Scandinavia has had a strong impact on the new coffee culture, which dates back to the time before latte and cappuccino, for the delicious taste of freshly baked coffee. We have talked to three young stars on this coffee sky about how to make good coffee.


Master Tim Wendelboe

In a quiet corner of Grünersgate in Oslo, just a stone’s throw from the city center, is Tim Wendelboe’s espresso bar, school and fire department, as it is on the sign next to the door. The room is most reminiscent of a workshop. At one end there is a wooden bar with three chairs, and the room is dominated by a large, noisy oven telling the guests that the burner is in operation. This morning, there are five people working there, burning and packing beans and serving coffee to the guests. Wendelboe himself is dressed like the other staff, in black trousers and white shirt. He apologizes for the noise, saying that the burner will soon be separated from the coffee shop. When he started the business, he did not expect that a noisy, simple burner that only served coffee, without pastries, newspapers or soft jazz music would attract huge crowds. But it did.

Tim Wendelboe is born and raised in Norway. He looks younger than his 37 years, but has the courteous manners of an elderly, venerable headmaster or angler. He works closely with members of both of these professions, as a supplier of coffee to innovative restaurants worldwide – restaurants with coffee striving to set new standards for quality. But apart from these ambitions, there is nothing pretentious about Tim Wendelboe’s business. In his typically modest way, he explains: “My job is to improve the quality of our product, and coffee is a fun product to work with. I do not want to say that we are still in the Stone Age, but there is still much development left in this area. You can actually make a big difference. You can improve all parts of the process and do something better. »All Tim Wendelboe coffee is carefully selected from his favorite places. The procurement process is based on a philosophy with a focus on quality, traceability, innovation and social responsibility.

• What is a good coffee?

“First and foremost good ingredients: soft water and good coffee beans. And no great and expensive equipment is required. It includes a kettle and a coffee grinder. The water must be soft water because calcium neutralizes the acid in the coffee, “explains Wendelboe.

• How can you recognize a good cup of coffee?

“Good coffee is best when served at body temperature. Bad coffee tastes worse and worse the colder it will be. It loses sweetness and becomes bitter, “he says.

Wendelboe has worked backwards along the coffee chain. He started serving coffee, and now he is keen to grow coffee beans. 18 years old, after completing secondary education, he needed work. He was employed by Stockfleths, a traditional family-owned coffee company with roots dating back to 1895. In the 1990s, the company followed the hottest new trend: coffee bars who used espresso machines and served special coffee, latte and so on. Tim Wendelboe started as Barista and turned out to be the right man in the right place. In 2001, he won NM in barist arts, and in 2004 he won the World Cup victory. He describes this experience as a crossroads in his career: “That was when I was hooked. I realized that I like to compete – and win. I have the competition character. “

That’s when he began to plan and build his small coffee empire. He started working on freelance projects and counseling, and in 2007 he began to plan his business, which he simply would call “Tim Wendelboe”. “I needed a place to hold seminars and I started planning the project. The idea was originally to have a burner and showroom, but things developed and the place became popular as a coffee shop. “The business is still relatively small, compared with the major players in the market. Tim Wendelboe sells 30 tons of coffee each year. The largest Norwegian manufacturer sells 18,000 tonnes a year. But Wendelboe does not care about it. “If I just wanted to make money, I had not opened a coffee shop,” he says.

• Is the coffee culture a trend?

“It has been a trend for 30 years now, so we’ve actually passed the trend phase. The taste for good coffee has come to stay. And the coffee that is available just gets better and better. Best of all, most can afford it. Do not you get drunk, either. It’s almost like a better dinner. The Internet has played an important role in this development. People travel, blogs, buy coffee online and so on. “

• Is it a generation cut?

“Yes, it is. We grew up fast – fast food, powder soup, instant coffee – and we got used to it. So we started to want something better: food and drink made from good raw materials produced locally. “

Around the same time, when he started his business, Wendelboe also began to travel to Colombia to learn more about the secrets of the coffee bean. Here he met the ambitious local farmer Don Elias. “He was an honest, hard working man who wanted to do things differently,” remembers Wendelboe. He bought a piece of land from Elias, started a business with him and started planting coffee trees on the plot by 2015.

• What was the idea behind the project?

“I want to use the Earth’s biology to grow organic coffee. You do not need fertilizer – you just need to understand the earth’s balance and have the right microorganisms. Mother Earth has done this for millions of years. “

• Has this plan been working?

“It takes two or three years before the trees produce a crop. And then El Niño came, and the drought killed all our trees. It will take some time before we have started production again, but it will be worth all the problems. It is very easy to improve quality. You just need to let the right coffee berries ripen and focus on quality instead of standardization. And the drying process can be extended over two weeks instead of six days. The taste gets more mature when it allows more time. “

Wendelboe sees his coffee plant as part of a movement that is engaged in research to find out how to save coffee cultivation from the destruction caused by industrialization. Part of the solution is to revitalize the plants. “In Panama, they have rediscovered the wonderful Geisha coffee,” he says. “It happens. New variants come. The industrialists have destroyed the soil so you have to do something new. We need to find new variants using hybridization, as well as new ways to make coffee. “

• Where do the best coffee beans come from?

“I think my favorite is Kenyan coffee, hand picked and being sorted during the picking process. They are good at sorting out the good prayers from the bad ones. But you can get good coffee all over the world. Even a good plantation can produce bad coffee, and vice versa. “

• What is the best coffee cup in the world?

“This is really a taste cake – but personally, I enjoy drinking the coffee produced on the plantation when I visit the plantation. It’s a sweet, well-stocked coffee and a good brew. The sweetening of the coffee bean is more important than the aroma. “

“We do things differently, by closer cooperation with manufacturers, exporters and shipping companies.”

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