I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Trondheim in general, but I was pleasantly surprised on all fronts. The city is smaller than expected but really is quite pretty, especially with the river snaking its way through.
The view from a bridge towards the fjord:
As for the coffee – my expectations were high. Obviously this was where Anette got her initial skills from, and the Dromedar cafes have a pretty good record in competition. The first one we went to was the first Dromedar located in a lovely, almost village like, part of the city called Bakklandet. The cafe has a really nice, very cosy feel to it though it was a lovely day when I first when and everyone was sat outside.
This looked like a very busy store and the little Linea (again with the shot timers built in which I just don’t see in the UK) seemed to be working hard. The espresso looked good and poured well but I was disappointed because the coffee they used in that store maybe isn’t to my tastes – a little dark and rough round the edges.
Outside the store:
Again retail is a prominent feature with lots of tea, coffee and equipment pride of place. I went to the store a couple of times and the other drinks were really good.
From there we wandered across into the middle of the city to the Dromedar on Nordre Gate. Anette worked at both this one and the Bakklandet location and it had apparently expanded into the shop next door. The layout was quite unusual with seating outside both in front of the store and out in a courtyard at the back, with two indoor rooms either side of a bar in the middle. This looked like the busiest of the locations, certianly during the week with a massive three group Cimbali sat at the back. I had a chance to play on it one evening, as we wandered in to a goodbye party that was happening there and I got dragged off to make coffee. They use the same blend and again I just didn’t get on with it, despite it being made well. Even in milk I found it a little difficult.
The final Dromedar in Trondheim has only recently opened in Moxness. High ceilings, and very clean lines everywhere gave it an airy and light feeling. Very different to the Bakklandet store. I like the way that every cafe has jugs of water available – in the UK it seems we would rather charge for bottled water than give it away (though having nice tapwater is a help!). Which is a bit odd really.
Again I got a chance to play here, after coming back from the Dromedar offices with Halvard Amble – the current Norwegian barista champion – who had been running an educational program for staff. He was messing around with homemade syrups whilst I was making some shots and pouring really terrible latte art (much to the amusement of the baristas there, and much to my own horror!). Same coffee here, same thoughts.
Dromedar also has links with another store called Stolt that is a not for profit cafe where the goal is to introduce rehabilitated youth into the workforce. Halvard is the manager here. The day Anette and I went along we were hoping he was there, but he wasn’t so we had some coffee and some rather good Success cake (something that Norway really needs to work harder at exporting – it is soooo good!) and called Halvard to see if he was around. He kindly came down and pulled shots and messed around for a bit. They use a different coffee in Stolt (though like Dromedar it is roasted by Solberg and Hansen) which is a lighter roast and has less robusta. Much lighter in the cup, a pleasing acidity and a better texture (to my taste). I also prefered it in milk and Halvard poured me easily the best capp in Trondheim.
As a geeky side note, it was interesting to see the different preference for grinders. A lot of La Cimbali and Marzocco grinders (which I had only used once before in El Salvador). The style of dosing is fairly consistent, no real updosing beyond a basket full that I saw. The standard of barista skills is pretty high and many seemed genuinely interested in coffee. The drip coffee seems to sell pretty well, with a coffee of the day/week pushed instead of a choice of different coffees. As I said earlier on coffee seems totally ingrained into daily life, both at home and out. They just seem to drink more in Norway and it is, on average, much better than the UK. That doesn’t mean there is no bad coffee in Norway – there is plenty – its better overall.
(I will update this article with more photos once Anette uploads hers to Flickr)
[tags]coffee, espresso, cafe, coffee house, norway, trondheim, dromedar, stolt, barista[/tags]