Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Coffee Master

It’s no secret that Norwegians love their coffee. In the May 2014 issue of Viking, we talked with Norwegian coffee expert Tim Wendelboe, who shared his passion and knowledge for great-tasting coffee. Wendelboe runs an espresso bar, coffee roastery and training center in Oslo called Tim Wendelboe where he imports, roasts and sells high quality coffees. The World Barista Champion and World Cup Tasting Champion is also an author and host of an online TV coffee series for Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. Here’s more from our interview.

Q: How did you make coffee into a career for yourself? 
A: I grew up in Bærum, a 30-minute drive outside of Oslo. After graduating high school, I moved to Oslo. I went for a walk downtown and found a cafe that was seeking employees. Little did I know that it was one of the first coffee shops in Oslo called Stockfleths. I did not even drink coffee at that time, but I got a full-time job there in September 1998. I ended up managing the store at the age of 20. The owner also wanted me to compete in barista competitions that they had started organizing in Norway, so he signed me up. I sort of fell in love with the competition format as it constantly pushed me to improve my skills. After a lot of practice and many competitions, I finally won the World Barista Championships in 2004 in Trieste, Italy, and that really boosted my opportunities and career. Two years later, I quit my job at Stockfleths, where I was managing six stores together with a friend of mine. In 2007, I started my own roastery and store named Tim Wendelboe, and now I feel like I have the best job in the world.

Q: What prompted you to start your coffee shop and training center in Oslo? 
A: I started to realize that I needed a place where I could do trainings. Also, I was disappointed by the coffees that were available in Oslo at that time, so it became natural to start roasting coffee as well. I also felt it would be natural to have a small espresso bar where people could come and learn and taste how I wanted my coffees to taste like. In 2007, I opened a small coffee shop and roastery on the corner of Grünersgate and Fossveien at Grünerløkka in Oslo. We only serve coffee and coffee with milk (espresso based drinks like cappuccino). There are hundreds of cafes in Oslo that serve everything you want. My place is more like a showroom for coffee where you can come and taste something you might have never tasted before.

Q: What are your best tips for making coffee? 
A: You definitely need to get a coffee grinder that has adjustable grind settings. Otherwise, you need soft clean water, the best quality beans you can get (buy them from a local small roaster) and use clean brewing equipment like a filter brewer or French press. Coffee is a fresh product, so use the beans fast after they are roasted and drink the coffee as soon as it is brewed.

Q: What are some trends you are seeing on the coffee scene right now? 
A: Filter coffee is coming back in more countries because we are able to get better quality ingredients from coffee producers and a lot of roasters are doing a better job roasting the coffees. I think a lot of roasters are roasting lighter. This accentuates the quality of the coffee so you need to buy the best beans if you want to roast light. Lighter roasts have more acidity but far less bitterness and is more interesting as it is easier to taste the flavors, as the coffee is not dominated by charred roast flavors. It is hard to do a good light roast, but I see a trend that more roasters around the world are roasting lighter like many have done in Scandinavia for a long time.

Check out this video where Tim Wendelboe talks about his favorite coffee recipes.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

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