Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stockholm Coffee Capital

On the lookout for a fine city trip, it became Stockholm. Not in the last place for its well known coffee culture.
It's right in your face on every street corner. The way 7 Eleven shows it in all their windows ; say no more.

Of course we did not come to drink super market coffee. It was the real stuff we were aiming for. I ordered the espresso's and Isabel the Cappuccino's or Latte's.

The first bar we entered was Mazzarini on Gamla Stan. Not for any special reason, but it showed directly what it was all about in Stockholm ; the Italian cut.
One Euro espresso's with lots of Italian styled roasts or brands, Italian machines, grinders. All Italian yes, but better than over there. The Swedish are used to dose shot by shot, tamp correctly and clean their filters and group heads. Bravo!
At Mazzarini they used Caffè Monteriva coffee. Although this Barista was the least of the pack, it was an OK start.

Then we were heading to Sostra at Jacobs Bergsgatan. As you can see on their price list : Italy is in the house. And very typical for Stockholm they were not offering a wide choice of drinks. It's a pity with their good foaming and brewing techniques, nobody has the creativity of making a bit more out of it.

Non Solo Bar (Odengatan). Very spectacular view. Two Barista's who know their profession. But how disappointed i was sipping my first espresso/ristretto. They had a new local Arabica Roast on the try out bench and i became the victim. Very harsh. Like an under extraction and ... i don't know what. Because i couldn't believe this gifted Barista pulled this failure i went in to talk and order their home brand : Passalacqua. By accident the espresso of the week at Caffenation , but a different variety. And again it didn't work for me. Something is wrong with the machine? Besides of that i saw a good atmosphere and great Latte Art.

Time for the Mellqvist kaffebar, located nearby the St Eriks Plan, Rörstrandsgatan.
Do you c this photo?!! A 5-group La Marzocco! After Milan, Sydney, Vancouver and Seattle, this was the fifth in the world. At least that's what Per said. He and his fellow Barista welcomed us at the bar, but we were too late for a drink. Not for a talk and a present. He gave me a sample from their roaster, David Haugaard, and a rendez vous for the weekend. (review later on this week)

One day later our first stop is at Espresso House at Götgatan, nearby this fantastic neigbourhood SOFO. At first i was a bit reluctant to enter this big chain feel bar you find all over towns like Malmö and Stockholm, but the hell with it, we need some caf.
They use Faema equipment and young female Barista's not really looking used to do the job, but what a surprise in the cup. The temperature was a tad too low, but nevertheless a sweet a good balanced cup with a fantastic after taste from this Mokacrema blend. Not to have anything against Italian or robusta - i do myself still make small percentage robusta containing blends - but i want not only punch, but also detailed tastes and fruit and that's what i got at Espresso House, also at our second visit at another shop the day after. After checking the website i saw the blend contained El Salvador, Ethiopia, India and Guatemala. That gives us almost 80% of our House Blend. Now i understand why i like it, also why it still tastes very good when it cools down.
And no spectacular Latte Art, but fantastic sweet and velvety milk foam on the cappa.

Up to the famous Caffelini at Gamla Stan. They have this boring, over touristy location and interior. Their brand is another, for me unknown, Italian called Filicori. Like i've seen at some other bars, he only works with double portafilters and had no problem letting the second shot flowing down the drain. What's wrong with single shots? Read to much Schrömer? Also weird was to see him cleaning the basket with a brush. The results : Good to almost perfect, but a tad to much robusta on a too high roast for my personal taste.

The Sunday was just as the other days very sunny and we went to see some modern art.
At the entrance Rasmus was waiting for us. He's running the espresso bar at the museum and is without any doubt the best Barista i met on our trip. So we talked and talked and talked and ... drank some espressi.
He had this Barcelona brand Dibar on the grinder, with a 30% Oeganda Robusta in it. He likes the bitterness and body of it and i guess he's right. Very good cup at this beautiful bar in the fantastic museum.

But to finish of we had to go back to Per at the Mellqvist kaffebar and his 5-group LM.
Besides this monster he had another monster waiting ; a Mazzer Robur. The bar was packed and the atmosphere boiling. He told us he was at only 50% brain capacity because of a hang over. Unfortunately i noticed this in his shot. Was it overdosed or grinded to fine? ; result was a short harsh cup, what you often get if the pour is too slow, that didn't do justice to the blend and machinery. Nevertheless my favourite bar and very recommendable!

Conclusion : Stockholm is a must visit for all coffee lovers, certainly for those who crave for a nice Italian styled cup. Most impressive was the milk foam, less the combination of milk and espresso, which was a bit off track from time to time.
Weird is that i mostly paid €1,10 for espresso, but €1,70 at the museum and €1,80 at Espresso House and those were my favourites. I know probably a lot of Stockholm Barista's are going to kill me for this ; but it was at Espresso House we had the best espresso and cappuccino. I guess their training and blend building is in hands of people who know what they're doing.

So, book your flight now : Stockholm is a fantastic city with nice, very friendly, good looking people and great coffee.

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