Last week I asked barista Tim Wendelboe if I could join him when he roasted coffee for the Stockfleths coffee bars in downtown Oslo. He roasts at the Solberg-Hansen (biggest speciality coffee roastery in norway) plant so we took the tube up to Ryen today. It is about 15 minutes from central Oslo.
Before doing the stockfleths roast we went upstairs to the dining room to get an espresso. They have a really cool E61 Legend machine there with a nice Faema grinder as well. We quickly found out that the beans in the grinder were stale (most employees are on vacation right now...) so we went down to the roastery to get some fresh ones :). Ah, the pleasures of being close to a roastery. Tim got some malabar espresso that was much better. I had never tried a malabar type espresso before and I found it to be quite nice, and I got the chance to brew it myself as well (on the E61 Legend!).
We then went down to the roastery and Tim took me on a short tour while getting the ingredients for his blend.
They have a really nice system of silos, fans and pipes that is used to transport the beans from storage to roaster. This makes the job less demanding physically. They currently roast mostly on two big 120 kg probat roasters. I was pretty impressed with the roastmasters who had several decades of experience. I think one of the guys had been roasting for like 40 years or something. It sort of suprised me that they used old roast samples to compare with during roasting. Clever stuff.
After roasting Tim's espresso blend we went into the cupping room and I had a chance to cup a Kapi Robusta, a Jamaican Blue Mountain and a Brazil that I don't remember the name of. I had never tried cupping so this was really exciting for me. We roasted the three samples on three probat sample roasters, all gas heated.
The roast level was quite light, suitable for cupping. Three small bowls of coffee was brewed with each coffee. I think he used 11 grams of coffee per cup, ground for drip and brewed for about 4 minutes by just pouring water in the bowl and letting the grounds seep. We then had to swipe off the coffee foam on top of each bowl and then let them cool a bit. On my first tries I had a hard time discerning the brazil from the jamaican. The robusta on the other hand was really different and had a kind of bready taste to it, but not unpleasant. As the coffee cooled a bit and my slurping improved somewhat I could make out more differences between the jamaican and the brazil. It really struck me how difficult this art is. Practice is key and the ability to cup with seasoned cuppers. Loved the experience and wouldn't mind trying it again if I get the chance. As a complete rookie in cupping I was left with the impression that a cup of french press would be easier to diagnose with than the small spoonfulls of coffee that is used at the cupping table, but I guess it is a question of developing the palate and practicing a lot. It certainly isn't very practical to brew lots of french presses for each sample :). It is however according to Tim important to cup as the end product as well, that is brewing drip coffee or making espresso if you are developing an espresso blend.