How I (re)discovered my passion for coffee in Trondheim

After spending more than a month in the north of Norway I was curious about the more southern region. I didn’t expect much of Trondheim – to be fair I didn’t even thought about it before or checked any sights. I’ve just contacted Jacobsen&Svart – a local coffee roastery – to get to know their place and products. Unfortunately I can’t stand coffee, which appeared out of a sudden a few years ago. My body gets all shaky, I start sweating and my heart is beating very fast. So I was a bit vary about that meeting.

So I arrived late in the evening and it was pouring rain. So I didn’t get any impression of the town so far and I was happy when I arrived at my place for the night which was (supposed to be) close to a beach a bit outside of the city center. After an early night I woke up and it was still raining. Even when I left the van I couldn’t see much of the place where I have stayed. But I was looking forward to an exciting day in town and made my way shielded by my umbrella to the center. 

As soon as I arrived there the town caught my attention. Even the sun came out and made the wooden houses along the river even more colourful. So many pretty houses in so many happy colors! Narrow streets of cobblestone, pretty doors with loads of plants around them, small places at the river with benches to sit on, a traditional wooden bridge covering it and many many cute places to have a coffee and a piece of cake. Even when I left the „old town“ the houses were pretty and everything seemed to be friendly and open minded. Lots of modern places and many individual stores were filling the streets. At the harbor was a cool fishmonger with a great choice of freshly caught fish.

So I made my way to the direction of central station to meet Grant, the general manager of Jacobsen&Svart in one of their two coffee places, which was located in a very modern building constructed to feed itself with enough energy collected by the solar panels of the roof. Although he was quite busy with accounting stuff he took the time to fill me in their business. He got two different sorts of coffee for us without asking, which made totally sense as we where in a coffee house. I got nervous without even drinking the coffee. But I was so curious that I took a sip. Fortunately Grant isn’t a coffee freak so we were more tasting then drinking it. So we tried two different sorts of coffee and were talking about their business and life in general. We were pondering about a sustainable but economical business and figured that the most important thing is clarity and honesty towards the customers. Furthermore we were talking about all the great manufacturers as well as coffee roasters in Norway. They are actually cooperating with a lot of local producers – like Gravraak Teatelier – a tea company. He explained a lot about the whole environment of their business and gave me a perfect overview. But to dig more into the science of coffee I had to meet Kenneth – the roaster of Jacobsen&Svart.

So I meet him the day after in the other coffee place of them. First he prepared two different sorts of coffee with a certain brewing technique. As already said usually I am not capable of drinking coffee – I immediately start to sweat and shiver, my heart is beating very fast and my stomach turns upside town. But already the day before I just desperately wanted to try their coffee and simply did it. And you know what? Nothing happened beside the fact that I really enjoyed it! The same with Kenneth. So we tried one coffee from Kenya and one from Colombia. There was a massive difference and right there we started diving into the world of coffee. To be fair I didn’t expect it to be THAT complex! But we were just hopping from one complex topic to another one starting with the farms themselves and the origin of coffee and ending with coffee profiles. Of course he introduced me to the roasting process of coffee and all the different factors having an impact on the quality and taste of the final product. Even the weather outside has an impact on the result of the roast! So every roast, even if you are following the same procedure of time, heat etc., has a different taste in the end! Of course the preparation of the coffee has an impact as well. It depends on single seconds! What a complex science! But I was literally thirsty of more and wanted to learn everything. Confident with the knowledge of being able to drink coffee again I wanted to know as much as possible. 

So he opened the data base of the coffee roastery and showed me two coffee profiles of coffee he roasted and tried to explain the main things of the roasting process. There is a drying phase which eliminates the remaining humidity as soon as the beans had been filled into the roasting machine. After that follows the yellowing/browning stage where the pre-roasting actually starts. They are still drying and develop a certain stage through several chemical reactions. This phase ends as soon as the first cracking of the beans begins and leads into the roast stage. The beans become of such a high temperature that they need to expand and „crack“. There are two cracks maximum. After that the roaster defines the roast level and the characteristic of the coffee he is going for. The less the coffee is roasted the lighter it is. And the lighter it is, the higher the complexity of the coffee. This became a new focus in the coffee industry and is content of the 4th wave. The first wave developed in the 18th century where coffee became modern and kind of a daily beverage. Instant coffee was invented, too. Starbucks kind of caused the second wave where coffee places got famous and drinking coffee was more of a lifestyle. People cared about the origin of coffee and were interested in the different tastes as well. The third wave started around 2000 and focused on clarity against customer. Taste and character were even more important and smaller coffee places and roasters became famous. The fourth wave is about to begin and concentrates to all the complex characteristics coffee has. It focusses more on coffee as a science. And so does taste and character nowadays become more of an interest, and so does lighter coffee.

I could loose myself now by all the stories and interesting facts Kenneth told me. Fact is – I caught fire! I want to learn more about coffee and made loads of (mental) notes to do further research in order to dive further down into the world of coffee.

Thanks to Kenneth who literally opened my eyes for this great craft and his time and patience.

And Trondheim? Well, visiting it for about three days and enjoying it by sunlight made me fall in love with it. Great town! And even my parkup has been lovely.

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