I had read in many magazines the high standards of coffee in Copenhagen and how they are at the forefront of speciality coffee. With some basic research I had discovered the top ten best coffee shops to visit in there, with a little help from my friend Peter, we picked the three best ones we wanted to visit in the list in case we couldn't visit all ten! The initial shop was called Kent Kaffee Laboratorium.
Upon entering your eyes are drawn to the menagerie of brewing equipment, the beautiful simplicity of these coffee chemistry sets meant we were in heaven. We had a mission though, I was to try the cold brew coffee as it something i've been making myself and I like to compare and contrast. Peter tried the Syphon coffee, a Scandinavian speciality which is basically a vacuum coffee maker that brews coffee using two different
chambers. Both were, needless to say, tasty and well designed. The cold brew had no bitterness whatsoever and had a chocolatey finish. The Syphon coffee was so clean tasting but had a lot of fruitiness and flavour packed in. This was a regular trend we found in any type of pour over or filter coffee made in these coffee shops, as they were brewed correctly, the clarity and purity of the coffee was spectacular. We had to inquire about how long the owner had been in the coffee business, to our surprise he had only said 4 1/2 years. One comment he said was that he had been very much into wines before and many of the skills
were transferable to coffee yet coffee had a extra characteristic which made him enjoy it more, the ability to play around with the finished product and experiment with how it is made. That explained all his equipment.
Next stop was the Risteriet Coffee Shop which had a rustic, cosy feel about it. There were secondhand pictures on the wall, paint was cracking in the corners of the room and the espresso bar was a quaint little
area designed for 2 Baristas at a push. Half of the shop was dedicated to retail, there were top quality grinders, french presses and even a mini roaster for £2000! Beans were on sale in different sized packages
with hand written labels on them. All those things that make a Barista warm inside. The coffee menu had a few items between us we hadn't heard of, Peter ordered a Black Eye or sometimes called a bullseye, which
is filter coffee with a double espresso shot added. There’s pickmeups
and then there PICKMEUPS!
I had a modest double espresso. I think this may have been the best double espresso I have ever had. It was incredibly well balanced with fruity, chocolaty and caramel flavours and such an intense creme on top. I think it was more of a ristretto than an espresso but I wasn't complaining, it was outstanding. I realised i've never had a good espresso whenever I have ordered them at a restaurant or cafe. This is why I usually go for an Americano for safety. Copenahgen showed me that good espressos do exist. Thank you Copenhagen.. By the way, the black eye was excellent too, one would think it would taste incredibly dark and bitter, but the filter was fresh and light and added with the espresso it was interesting concoction to try. I think out of all the
coffee shops this one made me feel the most comfortable, that I could sit in their for hours and feel like it was another home. There wasn't any pretense or snobbery, just good coffee.
The last stop was the Copenhagen Coffee Lab, with 15 mins to try their coffee before they closed, it was a slight rush but still a strong experience. We ordered a v60 pourover coffee and I had an Americano. I knew the v60 would take a while to make but the Barista seemed to be very content to make it. He actually served our coffees at our table on a wooden slab and explained where the beans of the v60 were from (kenya) and my Americano (Rwanda) which I was uplifted by as I really do enjoy Rwandan coffee. This coffee shop had a familiar look to many in london, the chipboard shelves and wooden decor dominating the shop, yet again it had the calm, relaxed feel. It felt it was designed for people who wanted an experience rather than commodity coffee.
I like to think I have some experience in tasting good and bad coffee and I am not easily convinced. Every coffee we had in Copenhagen was very well crafted, time and effort had gone into every process. The owners had control where their beans came from or even roasted themselves.In comparison with London, I still dont think we are riding that third wave yet, it made me feel that we are still slighlty behind. Even coffee
shops that are advertising themselves as places that sell great tasting coffee have an element about them that caves into customers that want a caffeine injection,which I think makes the place feels hollow when that
clientele isn't there. I am not naive ever to the fact that coffee is a huge million pound market and that coffee shops are still a business, but I like to think that people open these places with ideas other than making
money. I think London cafes and coffee shops are disproportionate in quality and standards. I know that the standards in Copenhagen and Scandinavia are very high, they have always been a big coffee drinking area so it wasn't hard for them to adapt and develop quickly or start to become leaders in the world. There are such a large proportion of Scandinavian World Barista Champions as evidence. As standards are so high in Copenhagen it means you already have to offer the same as everyone else at that high standard just to be relevant. I think those standards and that pressure has created a wonderful culture that is offering great coffee experiences for people. The Barista in the Copehagen Coffee Lab told me of a coffee shop, a fairly
standard chain, that uses the pulp and cherries that are taken off in the processing of the beans and makes them into a carbonated soda. I was told this was fairly standard here.
So how do we achieve this in London? Education, we need to educate our customers and engage with them about the coffee and create an experience from them. It should be the same reason you go to different
restaurants and try different food from around the world. It shouldn't just be to fill a hole, surely?
I feel we are at the cusp of that change. At CWTCH people come because they want good tasting coffee, they don't want to settle for an inferior experience. People can taste the passion and incremental focus that Baristas put into how they craft a coffee for them and they are thirsty to know more. The third wave needs the support of its customers and we need to connect with them so that the coffee world isn't just an exclusive club of Baristas and roasters, twiddling their digital scales and perfecting their tamping technique.
The crusade is never over...