Sweden & El Salvador

Two of our favorite countries have been the focus of the last week and also this week: Five wonderful friends from Sweden came to Portland to spend three days exploring the coffee culture of our fair city last week with yours truly playing tour guide, and this week, Ken is in El Salvador for the 2nd annual barista championship. Lots going on! Ken will blog about El Salvador this week if he gets a chance — Luis is keeping him busy! — and next week at the latest. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this post about the fun days and nights I spent with the Swedes last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Guests: Peter Frennhoff, Beige Champion 2008 (winner of the special prize for best caffè latte, member of the Swedish Barista Team); Elin Rennerfelt, Arla Foods (dairy company); Lennart Löfgren, Arla Foods (dairy company); Ulrica Carlsson, Löfbergs Lila (coffee roaster); Gunilla Steinwall, Beige Assocaition/Svensk Mjölk
(Swedish Dairy Assocation)

DAY 1, Wednesday
I asked the Swedes to meet me at Cup & Saucer on N. Killingsworth for breakfast on Wednesday before a small cupping Jana Oppenheimer had prepared for us across the street at the cafe and roastery she and Chris run, Extracto and Cherry Coffee Roasting. It was the first time I would realize that the Swedes could have easily spent another week here, they had so many questions and were so curious about the way things work with coffee in Portland.

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Here is Peter cupping the Mexico, Sumatra and Yirg Jana set up for us.

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Elin (left) and Gunilla really enjoyed the coffees!

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Next, we went to Blend Coffee Lounge down the street to meet with owner Lara Miller and for Peter to meet her star baristas. While we were there, we were joined by Phuong and Jules, who is in Portland to learn the Stumptown ropes before she heads to New York to work as a trainer at Stumptown’s new digs.

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Above, January (with red hair) and Lara (in glasses) and Peter work on milk techniques.

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Phuong and Lennart talk milk…

After a fun time at Blend, we lunched on yummy sushi and then headed to Ristretto Roasters’ new location for a cupping with Bruno, Din and Leticia. Here is Leticia behind the bar before we started cupping.

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Below, a pre-cupping pose:

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Then we were off to the Hawthorne Albina Press to say hello to owner, Kevin. The Swedes loved the cafe.

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Kevin put Peter on the spot and asked him to pour latte art for one of his customers, and Peter pulled off a gorgeous heart.

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After all the coffee that day, we had a well-deserved beer next door to the Press at the Sapphire Hotel. The Swedes went back to their hotel for a brief rest before meeting me and Ken at Bluehour for dinner.

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DAY 2: Thursday

This was to be a blow-out Stumptown day, and the Swedes were excited about it. But it didn’t help that I lost them before the day even began. I showed up at their hotel and couldn’t find them, so I went to the Downtown Stumptown at 3rd and Ash to wait for them. They found me eventually, and enjoyed cappuccinos from the bar. Lennert said it was his best espresso of the trip!

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Above, Elin and Ulrika enjoy their drinks at the bar.

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They were thrilled to meet Ellen, barista trainer extraordinaire, who was at the cafe working with Wolf.

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Peter and Gunilla headed back to the counter for one more round of drinks before we were on our way.

Before heading to the Stumptown roastery, the Swedes wanted to visit a Whole Foods. Personally, I think Whol Foods is pretty corporate, so I agreed to take them there on the condition that they let me take them to my very favorite market in the world, New Seasons, as a comparison.

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And whaddayaknow, they liked New Seasons better!

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At the Stumptown roastery, roaster Brian gave them a fun, informative presentation. In fact, he was so passionate and energetic that the Swedes just about fell in love with him, and told me again and again over the next 2 days how much they had enjoyed him. Gunilla also enjoyed the noise-canceling headphones she had to wear.

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Our next stop was the Stumptown Annex, where we were treated to a simply phenomenal cupping: Esmeralda, Don Pachi, El Injerto Pacamara, 2 new Colombians, a stand-out Rwanda. It was un-freakin-believable, and Peter’s highlight of the whole trip.

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Thanks again to Matt, Jeff J. and Jim for helpoing organize and pull off this amazing cupping.

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During the cupping, Jeff’s daughter, Poppy, busied herself organizing the Annex’s stash of Barista Magazines. So cute!

After the cupping, we headed down to the American Barista and Coffee School, whee my camera promptly ran out of batteries. Harumph. Matt Milletto was awesome, giving them a great presentation on what the school was all about. The Swedes loved it. Then we all walked across the street to clarklewis for beers.

After that, they retired to their hotel for a rest before dinner at… Le Pigeon! Man, was it good.

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Here’s my appetizer: flatbread with lamb and fennel. Peter said his sweetbreads was the best thing he’d eaten the entire trip.

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DAY 3: Friday

Since they had loved the Hawthorne Albina Press so much, the Swedes asked to visit the original one, so we started our third and final day in North Portland at the Press.

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After terrific service from Josh and Rita, we headed to Gravy for breakfast (American style portions, the Swedes remarked). Then we went across the street to say hello to Michael at the Fresh Pot. It was funny because Peter had seen the film, “Feast of Love,” that was filmed at the Fresh Pot, mention of which never fails to elicit an intense eye-roll from Michael. In Sweden, the movie was called “Cup of Love.” More eye rolling from Michael when he heard that.

So then, we were off for the countryside: Monmouth, Oregon, to visit the farm, Double J Jerseys, an Organic Valley farm owned by Jon Bansen. Jon was awesome, as usual, and took us on an extensive tour around the farm and answered the tons of milk questions that Lennert and Elin had.

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It was the most beautiful fall day… perfect for Oregon wine (and cow) country.

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We watched as the cows made their way from a lower pasture up to the barn for milking.

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And we met the calfs who were busy talking to each other.

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In this final photo (after which my batteries died again), the group chats in the calf barn.
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That night, we regrouped for a wonderful evening at Park Kitchen. We were joined by Ken, Phuong and Torkel’s brother, Corey, who looks a lot like Torkel! After a raucous dinner, we took the group to the Low Brow bar and did a little drinking. It was such a fun night, but I was so tired and Ken was leaving for El Salvador the next day, so we ducked out at around midnight.

It was a WONDERFUL few days with the Swedes. They were such a fun, gracious and interested group. I have known Gunilla for years, and Peter for a while, but I was meeting Ulrika, Lennert and Elin for the first time. But by the time 3 days was over, it was like we’d all been friends for years. I’ll miss them!

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.