At the beginning of this year, I planned a trip to visit the World of Coffee Festival in Gothenburg along with researching the reputable coffee shops in Copenhagen. A mission to find out what the best of the best was doing and how coffee culture is different from what I have experienced in London. Additionally, it was just another excuse to drink lots of coffee and be a bit geeky, try and spot some World Barista Champions and maybe even speak to one…
Up at 6am, the train ride to Gothenburg was three hours long, a pleasant journey enough witnessing the fertile lands of Sweden, but if a three hour train journey doesn't put you in the mood for coffee I don't know what will. A quick jump on the tram to our destination promised the festival would be right outside. But as we jumped out we found ourselves in a complex intersection of trams and traffic, lost and perplexed. Then suddenly the clouds parted (a tram moved out of the way) and revealed the obelisk that was the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, the hub of jittery dreams.
I was expecting queues of eager hipsters and coffee aficionados, yet I saw a gathering of rather somber business men. Thankfully, the festival wasn't packed to the rafters of people which i've experienced in the London Coffee Festival, therefore I knew I could take my time and actually see everything I wanted to see and not have to jostle for space.
My first aim was the BWT+More water kiosk. Considering how water is a huge factor in coffee I wanted to see the latest experiments, inventions and ideas surrounding this concept as I have only recently started researching it myself. Prolific World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic, and esteemed Baristas Eva gefvert Nordell and Per Nordell were present displaying how vital water is in the extraction and flavours of coffee. This was the main reason I had homed in on the kiosk to experience this knowledge myself and partake in the activities. I was immediately rebuffed by a slick businessman who did inform me greatly on all the filtration devices that they sell and what they do. The phrase blinded by science came to mind slightly and my eyes were always drifting to the World famous Baristas wanting to absorb their knowledge. I would return.
Walking around the festival, it was easy to just act on impulse and wander to a stall or kiosk that looked interesting. Of course, I had some key places I wanted to go to but I didn't want to have too much tunnel vision. I thought it was refreshing how welcoming people were, they genuinely wanted to connect to other people and not just flog a product. The festival was a true kernel of creativity, a place where anyone could have a dialogue and share their knowledge. What brought everyone together was the true passion for excellence and that human trait of curiosity, wanting to probe deeper and find other avenues to explore. Some of the best conversations I had wasn't even to do with coffee but with the perceptions of Sweden in London or subjects such as becoming a trainer and how to impart knowledge. This wasn't a commercial pit.
Perhaps you are thinking, thats all very nice Joe but was the coffee good?! Yes, it was. Very. I have been to a few coffee festivals and one thing that surprised me was the lack of quality coffee or the absence of it altogether. At the WOC festival I tried a plethora of blends and coffee brewed in different ways. I tried filter coffee from Taiwan and Korea, Cold Drip coffee from Idonesia and coffee by Nordic Roaster Tim Wendelboe. I tried all this coffee in a very short space of time, which lead me to feel as if I was moving at 100mph and everything had slowed down. I found myself moving from stall to stall like the road-runner, only stopping for more top ups of quality brewed coffee.
Then I returned to the BWT+More water Kiosk to take part in the cupping experiment. There were 4 cups of coffee made the exactly the same way apart from the type of water used. Two were from different parts of Malmö, and the others were from Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Each produced different results. The harder the water meant it extracted more bitter properties from the coffee, even though it was a fairly light roast it made it taste darker. The softer water meant there were higher notes of fruitiness and citrus in the coffee. The self regulating part of me wanted to immediately discuss my results with one of the top Baristas Eva Gefvert Nordell so that I could confirm to myself that I had at least trained my palate somewhat accurately. I am happy to say that both our results corresponded with each other. At the kiosk I also tried the water from different filtration devices, some were standard carbon filters and others were magnesium enriched. Each had its own different mouth feel and specific taste. My favourite was the carbonated magnesium enriched water, which I filled up a whole bottle with so that I could use it to cleanse my palate between coffee tastings. Also, it meant that any time an exhibitor was in the paramount stages of explaining what his/her product was I would often spray them with water as I opened up my bottle!
My coffee pilgrimage did not stop what I left the festival, as it was just the beginning of my coffee crusade.
TO BE CONTINUED >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>