Norway – Coffee in Oslo

August 30th, 2006

Anette and I flew down from Trondheim to Oslo for a very quick trip round the city. It was mainly down to my demanding to see if the coffee there was as good as all that.

Straight off the train we headed for the first Stockfleth’s we could find. I am going to be honest and say I can’t remember the name of all the stores, but I will try! I think this one is the newest one, on Prinsens Gate. I liked the look of the store – big and airy, lots of light. I was surprised by how strong the retail side was in each store, until Anette reminded me that Stockfleths were merchants of tea and coffee long before they were coffee houses.

Spot the barista:

I am not going to post pictures of drinks because I don’t really think it is worthwhile. I had espresso in every place and would rather get stuck into it whilst it was as fresh as possible instead of waiting to take pics. All I’d end up posting is a selection of empty espresso cups!

Anette rang Tim Wendleboe and he biked down from his home and very happily took up the mantle of tour guide. I’d met Tim a few times – the first time being the SCAE convention in Athens where I “helped” with a training session he was doing (In truth I just stood around and listened like everyone else). We’d also hung out one night in Bern and I think our paths have crossed a few other times. He also knew Anette quite well so everything was very friendly and informal. We went on to a Stockfleths in a shopping mall, one of their busiest but mostly for retail. Because it had no sit down it also had no porcelain and I forget how weird espresso tastes out of a paper cup. Still – it is important to taste everything, especially what the customer tastes.

Tim then took us down to the shop he first worked in. The espresso here was the best of the three, though we did have two and the barista was informed that the first shots weren’t up to scratch so she brewed them again and they had some nice sweetness, and more body.

Signs of Stockfleth’s success in competition was in evidence:

Interesting also to see the grinder they modded with a little fan to help keep it cool:

From there to the courthouse Stockfleths. This one had a very different feel, and to me it lacked the character and friendliness of the others. I had a capp here and noticed something that seemed common to a lot of baristas in Oslo. It seemed like they could pour latte art if they wanted, but they no longer saw the point. Made me wonder if latte art’s prominence will quickly fade, and perhaps further reinforced the feeling that in our obsession with patterns in milk we are worshipping a false idol. So to speak. Anyway – the capp was nice, one of the best I had in Oslo as many capps were a little too dry and foamy for me, as well as being just a touch too hot for my taste.

Having tasted a lot of Solberg and Hansen’s coffee it seemed time to head up towards Robert Thoreson’s cafe’s and roastery for something a little different. On the way to Mocha we passed an amazing bakery and I am very glad Tim dragged us in. Not only were the baked goods extremely tasty but I loved the feel of the place – the colours, the layout and the general ambience. Weirdly my favourite place in the whole of Oslo.

Mocha is a great coffee shop. It was really nice to see Anne Lunell (who rightly bested me in Bern) again and to taste some great coffee. I had yet more espresso and Anette had a great capp.

We chatted about the retail coffees and I asked about a Rwandan coffee they had. Before I could say another word she had grabbed some and was dialling in a grinder and pulling shots of it. The roast was a little light for espresso and she ended up having to push the coffee really hard (for the last shot the timer on the machine read 47 seconds!) but what we tasted was really fruity and interesting, acidic but not sour.

Anne Lunell at Mocha:

Anne pulls the shot:

Just as we were leaving Robert showed up on his bicycle and asked if we wanted to cup with him. He had six decaf coffees he wanted to cup. I don’t think I have ever cupped just decafs before so that was quite interesting. I am always grateful for the opportunity to cup, especially when it is part of someone else’s business.

Conveniently Anne finished work so she walked over with us to Java to meet her boyfriend Charles. Java has a very different feel to Mocha, which I think is a good thing. They use a different coffee there and I really liked it, heavier and sweeter than the shot I had at Mocha.

Java:

Hanging out at Java:

We sat around chatting for a while and then wandered slowly back into town to meet up with Eirik (yet another Norwegian barista champ and WBC finalist) with who was very kindly putting us up for the night. On the way we dropped into the Coffee Bird which is a shop very much from the 70s and still maintains much of the decor (in a good way!). Very weird, but I liked it!

That evening we went out for a few drinks and I learnt a neat trick for photography in bars – hold a beer, or in this case a bottle in the way of the flash. Doesn’t Eirik look nice…..


Oslo Flickr Photoset

[tags]espresso, barista, cafes, coffee shops, oslo, norway[/tags]

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