On the last day we got up at 6 AM to eat breakfast before going on a sightseeing tour "the Golden Circle" on our way back to Reykjavik.
We saw the waterfall Gullfoss, the Geysir and Thingvellir, which is the place the old Icelandic parliament met at.
The Icelandic nature is stunning and unlike anywhere else in the world. But when you feel the cold wind you kinda get why the Icelanders are so fond of warm coffee.
While we were sightseeing, back in Reykjavik the teams had been setting up their own booths since the early morning. The competition was to raise the most money for the charity organisation through selling different coffee experiences (at least that's how I understood it). You could bid on knocking over a huge mountain of coffee cups, on Swedish team members (for dates or slave work) or you could buy "special lattes" with alcohol, cuppings, coffee memorabilia, aeropresses and the coffee art that the teams had work on together with local artists. I got in on the Danish team's cupping (on vinyl records).
This last day was open to the public so the teams had plenty of opportunity to wrestle money out of the pocket of the rich Icelanders... Well, if they could find any...
The teams were more creative in this challenge this year than previously I thought. And it also looked like the team members were enjoying the whole time more than thinking about winning.
The Nordic Roaster competition was later that day and everybody got to taste filter brews of coffee from 10 roasters (mostly Nordic). The roasteries can send in any coffee they like but only get to decide how many grams per liter of water should be used. Everything else (grind size, brew parameters) are decided by Bunn. There was a couple of good coffees in there but the winner really stood out: Tim Wendelboe's Tekangu, which he found on the trip together with Peter Dupont earlier this year. It's an outstanding coffee and he did indeed win the Nordic Roaster of the year in the end. Congratulations Tim and Tim!
But for me the absolute highlight of the afternoon was the auctioning of the Goat - The 2006 WBC trophy that I won in Bern. It was first auctioned away at the NBC in 2006 in Denmark. The deal is you only get it for one year and all the money from the auction goes to charity.
Andreas Herzberg - in a fierce bidding against Jens Nørgaard - finally claimed the Goat for another year with the winning bid of 2000 Euros!! That's a heck of a lot of money for the Costa Rican kids! The Goat has got a good life.
The final closure of the NBC is the Gala Dinner. And yes, again this year there was a theme: Dress up as either Elvis, Dolly Parton, Bjork or Elton John. There were many fabulous outfits and people really got into character. We had great entertainment from the teams but what we were all waiting for was the announcement of the winning team. As you most likely know the champions this year was Denmark.
I was so happy to see Denmark win because they really had a great team this year. It was obvious they had a lot of fun and a learned a lot over the three days. But they were also really friendly to each other - even under stress - and shared this great spirit with everyone. Of course we are extra proud that one of our baristas, Karen Dysted, was on the team. She's been one of the best barista in Denmark for years, but never competed before (mind you, the regular barista competition is not for everyone!).
The winning team gets to go to Costa Rica in January.
Congratulations Nordic Barista Cup champions 2009 Karen, Ea, Samuli & Morten!
As I mentioned before this was the first year for me where I didn't either compete, coach or judge and I enjoyed it immensly. It was great to meet and chat with the international attendees like Tim Wendelboe, Tim Varney, Mike Phillips, Liz Clayton, Bronwen Serna, Ken and Sarah from Barista Magazine and many, many more (I probably shouldn't even start to mention any names as I'm bound to forget a lot - sorry but I enjoyed every bit of conversation for sure!).
I look forward to see what Norway comes up with next year. I think the Icelanders did a great job this year and it'll be a tough act to follow. However, I think the lectures can be much more serious next year and we should talk more about how we do business in stead of taking the easy route of collecting for charity. I am glad however to see the earlier sponsors' "infomercial" lectures are gone for good. The social aspect of the NBC is a huge part but for most companies doesn't justify the entrance fee. However, knowing the Norwegians I have no doubt they are up to the task!
All pictures from Nordic Barista Cup can viewed on Flickr.
There is also a Pool with pictures from many of the attendees.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
After a really cosy evening, where all attendees discovered that the huts were equipped with out-door hot tubs ideal for drinking beer and talking for hours, we got up early to hear the first challenge of the day: Assemble your own roasters and grinders without instructions. The attendees were divided to help out each of the teams and one of the engineers would be at hand to avoid gas burners mishaps.
This was a cool challenge for the teams - both in terms of Getting Back To Basics of coffee and in terms of team work. And for the attendees is was great to help out and do something practical. I loved seeing Enrico Wurm from La Marzocco trying to figure out the grinder assemble. It used sand paper on two disks to grind the coffee, so it took a lot of sieving to get something consistent.
It was also tough for the teams to get an even roast, though, and the roasters only applied contact heat (much like most sample roasters), but in the end most teams got something palatable down.
After lunch there was a Coffee and Beer competition and another Aeropress competition, but I had to sneak off to the rehearsal of the Pool Party with Tim Wendelboe, Tim Varney, Tone Lievaag and Alexander Jensen from Norway. They were doing a Baywatch themed competition including synchronized swimming. I must have watch the four of them do their routine about 20 times! They really took it seriously even though you can't tell from the pictures.
This is the NBC in a nut shell:
There were a bunch of competitions at the pool party, but none of them actually counted in the final score - only actual coffee competitions were added together, which I was happy to hear. The pool competitions didn't have anything to do with coffee, but the NBC is just as much about Team Work and how we approach challenges.
It was hilarious to see the teams' synchronised swimming shows, although none of them could really compete with the Baywatch team:
In the evening we had a barbecue with excellent Icelandic lamb and once again people disappeared into the hut tubs to chat about coffee and life in general.
The Nordic Barista Cup is always a fantastic event simply because of the social aspect. Where the WBC or SCAA can seem overwhelming and not providing enough time to talk to everyone you know, the NBC is a smaller event of only 100-120 people. This year it was even more close and personal as we had to spend two nights in huts in the country side - but more on that later.
This year the NBC took place in Iceland and as usual all the rules are then up to the local organisers. You never know what to expect of the NBC but when people like Sonja Grant is working behind the scenes it's even more un-imaginable what will be happening.
All my pictures from the NBC can be found on Flickr
On wednesday evening all the teams, attendees, volunteers and organisers met up at a bar in downtown Reykjavik for an introduction of everyone. The teams were presented and there was a small lecture on coffee in Iceland.
Thursday morning we met at 8:00 for registration at the Reykjavik art museum, which was the venue for Thruday and Saturday. There was a quick latte art throwdown, where our very own Karen were in the finals against Mike Phillips - the current US barista champ from Intelligentsia in Chicago. Mike (unfortunately) won.
Then the lectures began. Each year the NBC choose a country of origin and this year it was Costa Rica. The proceeds from the event goes to a local charity there. Each of the teams had to do a presentation about a single growing region in Costa Rica.
Denmark chose to dance their competition showing off true X-Factor - something the judges were looking for this year.
Over the day we had lectures about Costa Rica, Cup of Excellence, Basic Roasting, Basic Grinding and Basic Milk theory.
The Cup of Excellence lecture by Susie Spindler was for me the most interesting of the day and reminded me just how important the programme has been in developing the coffee market. As Susie said, when they began the programme there were no-one doing Direct Trade and marketing the farms the way they are today. It was a good reminder about the importance we can make on the lives of the farmers through the way we choose to run our businesses. And for me, it was a good contrast to the Charity-theme, that in general is a little too thick at the NBC.
My favourite moment was during the Q&A when someone asked whether some of the money the farmer gets paid throught the CoE auction could be ear-marked to improve the quality of their coffee. You could feel this is something Susie feels strongly about when she answered: "No! Why should we decide how they spend their money? We don't want anyone to decide how we spend our money, do we?"
I think it's such a common misconception that the farmers don't know what they are doing and that we from the rich west should help them manage their farms. Most of the farmers I've met know what they are doing. They know better than anyone what equipment is missing or needs replacing at their farm. They know if a new house for their family of a new de-pulper is most needed. Not us! We need to build a relationship with farmers based on that we are equals. Not that we should micro-manage their income. Now, if we can provide assistance and education to help them improve their own economy that's great, but let's start with paying them appropriately for their quality coffee.
In general some of the lectures - or parts of them - were too basic. I don't think we really learned that much about Costa Rica that you couldn't read in 15 minutes on the internet. I would have loved to hear more about the varietals - why they grow the ones they do - and about the new micro mills. I definitely think the level of the lectures can be brought up a notch with this kind of crowd, where everyone works in speciality coffee.
The reason for the many "Basic" lectures was that the teams had to acquire some knowledge from the lectures and apply them in the competition.
They would actually had to build a roaster and a grinder themselves, it was revealed. They would also be cupping Costa Rica Cup of Excellence top 8 coffees and try to rank them as close to the original scores as possible. Tough challenge!
So the Thursday went with a mix of lectures and competitions; Milk steaming, CoE Cupping, Aeropressing and so on. They did well in allowing the attendees to participate in the competitions in various ways. Although I was a little jealous of the teams that got to cup all 8 CoE coffees in real cupping, where us attendees only got 4 brewed as filter in paper cups.
In the evening we went off from Reykjavik with all our luggage, first to visit a Geo-thermal plant, then to a great lobster restaurant called Við Fjöruborðið on the south coast and lastly to Minni Borgir, a cluster of huts in the countryside, where we would be spending the next two nights.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
In case you didn't follow the adventure on Twitter, the Danish team won the Nordic Barista Cup 2009! Karen, Ea, Morten and Samuli were a wonderful team. They always looked like they had fun and made sure everyone around them were enjoying themselves.
They'll be going to Costa Rica in January (harvest season) as their winning price.
Congratulations to the team from the whole collective!
P.S. I'll be back with a more thorough explaination of what's been going on these past couple of days + a gazillion pictures will be put on Flickr.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Barista Magazine already has lots of pictures up and will be blogging the whole event.
Meanwhile I've set up at Twitter feed here on our blog, so in the right panel you should be able to follow the updates. Online connection is on and off though, so excuse if there's a lack of updates.
Last night everybody met up at the official Meet N Greet party. It feels more like a family reunion than a competition about to start. It was great to see so many friendly faces (and there's too many for me to mention them all). Of course the Nordic countries are over-represented, but we also have visitors from Colombia - three people who I met yesterday at Kaffismidjan. One of them is a farmer, and showed me some incredible pictures of his farm and coffee lab. There's also a lot of familiar faces from the US. Jay from Intelligentsia is here with his girlfriend, Bronwen (US Barista Champ 2004) is here as a volunteer. Mike Philips (also Intelly) is present and I met Liz Clayton for the first time yesterday. Many of these people already feels strangely familiar because of the strong internet community, but I look forward to getting to know them all better.
Right now I've packed my bags and are heading down to the art museum where todays event will take place. we have to bring our luggage, because at 1700 hours we'll be leaving Reykjavik and go stay in huts !! Somewhere in the countryside...
The NBC is usually kind of a crazy event and the Icelanders are know to 'think outside the box', so I'm looking forward to see what we'll be doing out there. I know there's a pool party and Barbeque, but have no clue why they've stressed to bring warm and rain proof clothes.
For the same reason I don't dare to bring my computer along, so you'll have to wait for pictures and such until I get back. I will Twitter from my iPhone though and of course you all have Ken and Sarah blogging the whole thing.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I'm writing from Iceland where the Nordic Barista Cup 2009 will take place in just a few days. I've been to every NBC so far and it's always great fun. Last year it was cancelled though, and only the Nordic Roaster event took place. But, for the past years I've either been a team member, team coach or a judge. This year I am only an attendee and really look forward to simply enjoy the whole thing and relax.
Well... I won't totally relax, because obviously I'll be busy cheering like a rowdy hooligan for these guys and gals:
Picture taken from KaffeKaren's blog
The Danish team looks great this year - in many more ways than their obvious fashion awareness. Kaffe-Karen you should all know. She's been running our Roskilde store and is now part-time barista on Jægersborggade. She's been involved in many coffee projects in Denmark for years, but I believe this will be her first competition.
Samuli is one of the 'oldest' baristas in Denmark. He started his coffee journey in Norway way before I knew what a cappuccino was. He's moved on to roasting about three or four years ago and became the Danish Cup Tasting Champion earlier this year. We all used to work with him at Estate Coffee and fondly remember his creative spirit. Oh, and watch out because for sure he's the only one speaking Danish, Swedish AND Finish fluently!
Morten is the current Danish Barista Champ - hailing from Århus' Sigfreds Kaffebar. He's also participated in both the SCAE Turkish Coffee competition and the Coffee In Good Spirits. We've come to know Mortens enthusiasm better when he chose to use our coffee for many of said competitions.
Last team member is Ea, who works at Baresso. She was the runner-up in the Danish Barista Championship and current Danish Latte Art Champion.
When I look at this team it strikes me that these four individuals brings four totally different backgrounds to the team and as such makes it a really, really great team. I know they're going to have a lot of fun here in Iceland and will learn a lot. And of course I hope they'll repeat the Danish triumph from 2004 when Denmark took the Trophy! I'll just remind the readers that Peter Dupont and myself (together with Lene and Stine) were both on the team back then ;-)
Oh, and I'll see if I can post some updates along the way from the event when it starts Thursday. Knowing the nature of the NBC though, I suspect it might be impossible to sit down with the laptop not to mention getting any internet connection. (I've already heard some rumours about what's really going to take place and it does not sound boring!). In any case I'll post a recap once I'm back and you can follow my Twitter at http://twitter.com/klaus_thomsen if you are desparate for updates.
Friday, September 11, 2009
A Christiania Bike !
We use it to deliver coffee locally on Nørrebro and pick up milk for the coffee shop. We can easily fit in 8 milk crates in the box ... or a lot of coffee ... or a GS3 and grinder for a mobile coffee shop ... or Casper ...
Look out for it around town ;)
Monday, September 7, 2009
Yes, two weeks ago we unloaded the container with the new crop Finca Vista Hermosa.
Now we've done several batches to nail the profile on this years harvest and will on wednesday the fresh crop will be on the shelves.
All day wednesday we'll be giving out free samples of French Pressed FVH, so come by for a taste.
Also, we'll be selling our new limited edition T-shirts with the triangle color of our Finca Vista Hermosa label! Kr: 250,- (American Apparel printed at Trykkertøzen) Only 15 available in various sizes.
EDIT: Today only we'll also be pulling shots of SO Espresso FVH!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Since the beginning of the summer we've been serving cups of Aeropressed coffee in the coffee shop with great succes. You can choose between any of our coffees freshly brewed just for you. The Aeropress has also been for sale in the shop, so you can enjoy it at home.
The Aeropress is now also available through our webshop.
Click here to buy one
Extra filters are also available.
In the box is the Aeropress, 350 filters and filter holder, a stirring stick and a holder that also functions as a funnel.
Casper tested it this summer on his vacation through France and found it excellent for travel purposes. It's plastic, so it doesn't break in your bag and all you need is coffee and water. Doesn't get much easier than that.
We'd like to give credits to Tim Wendelboe for promoting the Aeropress and making us all aware exactly how brilliant and simple a brewing system it is. The annual World Aeropress Championship (WAC) - which Tim W has held - has been a great tool in developing new and exciting brew recipies.