Ristretto Barista Fight

Inspired by London’s Ultimate Barista Fighter. Aiming to create and deepen the coffee community, while using pod coffee machines. Having fun while competing against those annoyingly skillful barista from your rival cafe. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Ristretto Barista Fight!

(All the photos by Annika Welling-Nyberg)

The very first RBF was hosted at Kaffa two weeks ago. In order to make the event as accessible to everyone, from pro baristas to enthusiasts, we decided to pour some lattes with two separete categories: home baristas and “the ones who’ve worked at least one shift”.

Joona pulling the shots for the home barista competition

The event had over 20 participants which I consider a very nice amount compared to the size of Finnish coffee scene. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves, drink some nice coffee and pour beautiful tulips and a few rosettas, too.

The jury

Niki showing his skills

It’s easy to smile when you’ve just poured a nine (9!) leaf tulip. The winner Mikko Haahti

Thanks for all the participants and I’ll see you at the next RBF very soon! We already got a suggestion: a Versalab-themed joke competition…

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Stockholm Coffee Map – Update


Updated Stockholm Coffee Map

Öner of Kulbay Coffee and the guys at Kura invited me to Stockholm for a short weekend trip. The main event, the reason why I was invited, was an amazing cupping session at Kura (an independent post coming up). I also had some time to visit coffee places that I had missed in the summer and added them to the Stockholm Coffee Map. Here’s a little summary of these great coffee spots which all happen to be on the same street. Vasastaden is becoming the new coffee mecca of Stockholm.

Disclaimer: In contradiction to other coffee places I’ve visited these ones only once. I can’t guarantee that you would get as good as I got but I certainly hope so!

Visit or regret afterwards - usually very good coffee, definitely a must for any coffee aficionado (Red pin on the map)

Cupcake STHLM (Sankt Eriksgatan 83, Stockholm)

Though Cupcake STHLM mainly focuses in, well, cupcakes, their coffee is also great. Roasted by Peter Frennhoff and Daniel Remheden (WBC finalist) of Love Coffee in Lund , Cupcake serves their Kenya Makwa AA and Ethiopia Kebado Dara as filter. Guys at Cupcake decided to go with filter as they felt that espresso might be too difficult – an excellent choice in my opinion. Great, crisp and sweet filter coffee and the only places to use Love in Stockholm (to my knowledge), pop in for a few nice cupcakes and a cup of goodness.

Flipping a coin – sometimes really good coffee, sometimes I refuse to pay. Depends a lot on barista, not very consistent but still worth trying. (Yellow pin on the map)

Kaffeverket (Sankt Eriksgatan 88, Stockholm)

Coffee by daMatteo, La Marzocco Linea & Mazzer Robur and stylish interior – Kaffeverket has it all. The reason why it fell to this category is that when I dropped in there was Johan, daMatteo’s guy in Stockholm, as a guest barista pulling the shots. Although he pulled very tasty shots I doubt that all the other baristas could achieve that. In other words, inconsistency is my fear. (This is only a doubt, I certainly hope they can prove it false!)

Cocovaja (Sankt Eriksgatan 109, Stockholm)

It is difficult to really describe Cocovaja – a concotion of cafe, deli and restaurant with bright interior, friendly staff and fresh roasted coffee by Haugaard. The espresso was still slightly too fresh but otherwise alright, maybe a hint of excessive bitterness.

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The Craft

The craft from Brendan Inkognito on Vimeo.

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An evening in the Sweet Shop

One coffee to rule them all.

Of course you need something to accompany the coffee.

Yes, we forgot the champagne glasses.

“Barista should be standing, not lying behind the counter.”

It gets hot when Niki is pulling the shots.

18.00.

Later in the evening.

If you haven’t seen this movie you’re not a real barista.

Etching at its best.

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Language problem

After this year’s WBC I began thinking about the language and communication between the competitor and the judges (who seem to have a good understanding of English). Three of the finalists were native speakers of English, two had obviously been living in an English speaking country. This left me  wondering, how much competitor’s language skills actually do weight when scoring the performance?

Not having competed myself I have to rely on assumptions and observations but I reckon that in the WBC level everyone has somewhat exceptional coffee. It’s not that much about the taste of the coffee anymore when you have some 50 best baristas in the world pulling their shots1. It’s more about presenting the coffee, communicating one’s mission, passion or the reason why they are there on the podium, and presenting something new and exciting, just like Irish barista champion Colin Harmon did.

All of this, of course, is easier with sufficient language skills. It would be fairly difficult to give a staggering performance if the competitor cannot express himself. I think that it’s not very far from the truth if I say that one has to speak fluent and versatile English in order to with the WBC. From my experience that technically requires living in an English speaking country for some time.

We had almost similar problem in the Finnish Barista Championship this spring. Two of the judges, a sensory and the head judge, did not speak nor understand Finnish at all. Nevertheless, all the six finalists performed in Finnish though at least one began her performance in English but quickly changed back to Finnish. This left me wondering how on earth could the judges, especially the head, get everything out of the competitor’s performance. If one would have been able to present the coffees in English, not doing so was, in my opinion, almost an insult towards the foreign judges.

Be it all Finnish judges in the next year’s barista competition I’m still going to rock in English. Just in case I might need do that also somewhere else…

  1. Please correct me if you have more insight on this subject []
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Gwilym rocks the Aero

I quite like this Aeropress demonstration by Gwilym Davies, the WBC 2009. Haven’t tried the recipe yet though.

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A bit different crusade

I’m having the first part of my matriculation exams (the big, stressful final ones) in three weeks so unfortunately I can’t update this blog as often as I’d like to. No worries, this crusader has some studying to do but will be back to vanquish the heretic coffee drinkers before you even notice. Anyway, here are a few posts that I’ve been working on.

Language problem

After this year’s WBC I began wondering about the language and communication between the competitor and the judges. Three of the finalists were native speakers of English, two had obviously been living in a English speaking country. How much do competitor’s language skills actually weight while scoring his/her performance? Of course it is easier to communicate and present the coffee with fluent English and for the judges to give higher scores but is it fair for someone who really knows how to pull shots but hasn’t been able to learn English that much?

Helsinki Coffee Map

After positive feedback regarding my Stockholm Coffee Map and enquiries about where to get decent coffee in Helsinki I decided to produce a similar map of my current home town.

Kulbay Coffee – a one-man roastery

This one-man roastery run by Öner Kulbay is definitely one of the most interesting coffee start-ups in Sweden. I love his roasting philosophy and attitude.

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Summer barista

Having beers with Johan from daMatteo (left) and Cymon from Kura Café.

This summer was quite special for me. Not just was it the first time I lived abroad alone but it was the first time I really had time for coffee. Something I really had been looking for, devoting my time completely for coffee.

My latte art improved a lot, still needs (lots of) practice though...

Great thing with Johan & Nyström is that we had one-hour lunch breaks (a luxury in the coffee industry) so I decided to take full advantage of them. I ate for half an hour and was left with another 30 mins to visit either of the two coffee places nearby, Drop Coffee or Espressino, try something interesting and then get back behind the counter at the concept store.

Lunch drop coffee at Drop Coffee.

Working at the Concept Store has most likely been the most influential thing for my “career” in coffee. I learned much more than I had expected, got to know so many great (coffee) people and had lots of fun. I also had more time for this blog and I really love the response it got within Stockholm’s coffee scene. It was great to see so many micro-roasteries, for example Öner Kulbay’s (He really deserves a blog post of his own).

Öner's Diedrich in his house.

It wasn't just all coffee...

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Coffee meets business

I’m sorry about the long gap since the last post. That is because of my recent trip to Denmark which, alas, did not involve that much coffee this time.

As my view to coffee is almost entirely quality focused and probably not very economical was an event involving almost two hundred business-minded young people quite a good reality check. Emax Nordic is an event for youth interested in business, leadership and entrepreneurship that was held in Svendborg, Denmark this year. In Emax there are people from every Scandinavian countries, 50 from each Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This makes the event a great opportunity to network with other passionate and ambitious Scandinavians and meet potential future business contacts, both clients and partners.

My passion for coffee awoke fair amount of amusement among other participants – I guess grinding your own micro-roasted coffee and brewing it with an Aeropress in the breakfast table is not something they see every day. Though not really involving coffee the event was still a great inspiration to me – great lectures, inspiring workshops and amazing people. I strongly recommend everybody from 18-25 years old to enquire, even if you weren’t planning a business career.

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Stockholm Coffee Map

Earlier this year I visited Stockholm just for a day and only one thing on my mind – to visit as many great coffee places as possible. I looked for them in blogs, forums, asked and mailed a few people and still found only four places, two of which I knew previously. Now that I’ve lived here for about two months and visited quite a few new coffee places I thought of creating a coffee map featuring all the them. I’ve also ranked these coffee places based on the coffees I’ve got.


Stockholm Coffee Map

Visit or regret afterwards - usually very good coffee, definitely a must for any coffee aficionado (Red pin on the map)

V Street Coffee (Vasagatan 38, T-centralen)
The only choice for morning cappuccino or afternoon ice latte in the central Stockholm is V Street Coffee, a fairly new café with a great focus on coffee. La Marzocco, daMatteo‘s coffee and baristas who know their coffee better than most others.

Kura Café (Torsgatan 31, T-bana S:t Eriksplan)

The only Antipodean coffee place in Stockholm – great coffee, great food, great people, great atmosphere. For a longer review, click here. Amazing brunch also on weekdays, definitely worth trying!

Drop Coffee (Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 10, T-bana Mariatorget)

Boasting with Synesso, espresso blend by daMatteo and very decent baristas, Drop is one of my favourite places to hang out, have a cup of drip coffee and chat with fellow coffee enthusiasts.

Johan & Nyström concept store (Swedenborgsgatan 7, Mariatorget)

(Disclaimer: J&N is my current employer but if I didn’t think they’re coffee is great I wouldn’t work for them) Johan & Nyström is the largest micro-roastery in Sweden and this concept store offers all their products. Very decent and fairly consistent coffee, especially the guest espresso (always something more exciting than the normal) and Stockholm’s only Aeropress bar are worth trying.

Flipping a coin – sometimes really good coffee, sometimes I refuse to pay. Depends a lot on barista, not very consistent but still worth trying. (Yellow pin on the map)

Mellqvist (Hornsgatan 78, Mariatorget and Rörstrandsgatan 4, S:t Eriksplan)

Coffee from Haugaard, a really high-end roaster, Synessos and Mazzers – every baristas’ daydream. Still, most of the baristas at Mellqvist fail to deliver the really high-end coffee. There are also a few good ones at both locations so the odds to get delicious coffee are fairly good.

Espressino (Götgatan 11, Slussen)

A stylish café on Södermalm’s busiest pedestrian street with coffee roasted by Johan&Nyström and Stockholm’s – to my knowledge – only Cheap coffee machine. At the moment they have an Australian guest barista, Kiril, working and he certainly knows how to rock the coffee. I am, though, a little concerned what will happen to the quality of coffee when he leaves Sweden and travels back to the Antipodes.

Coffice (Tjärhovsgatan 5, Medborgarplatsen)

=Coffee + Office. Offering working spaces to rent as well as coffee by daMatteo. Interesting idea and location but not the most consistent coffee in town. Two espressos to try out for a very reasonable price, 10kr for asingle!

If you’re around - chances to get good coffee but don’t look for anything exceptional. Still better than many coffee places in Helsinki. (Green pin on the map)

Non Solo Bar (Odengatan 34, Odenplan and Rörstrandsgatan 4, S:t Eriksplan)

Two really popular Italian-inspired cafés using J&N’s coffee. A few good baristas (one is Öner Kulbay who also has his own roastery with really interesting philosophy and coffees) but the coffee isn’t to my taste – more of traditional Italian-style espresso with robusta roasted oily.

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