maanantai 15. maaliskuuta 2010

Coffee, coffee & coffee in Stockholm.

                          There's nothing this critic doens't notice.

A few weeks ago we went to a typical day-in-Stockholm –cruise with our fellow students. However, I and Niki decided to focus in coffee rather than just partying. We had planned our route through Stockholm and we even managed to visit nearly all the cafés we had planned to check. Some were bit of a disappointment, some enhanced my impression of Stockholm's superb coffee scene compared to ours – 10 years ahead of Helsinki, one could say. Here's a small review of our picks.

V Street Coffee (Vasagatan 36)

 Being one of the newer coffee-oriented cafés in Stockholm and hyped in the Internet our expectations toward this stylish café were high. Coffee by DaMatteo, La Marzocco FB-80, 2 Mazzer Robur grinders and stylish interior but the coffee was a disappointment.
Niki's espresso was, according to my notes, aggressive, acid and bitter. Not very good, that is. My cappuccino was too hot. The microfoam was good but the espresso was slightly watery. Some notes of caramel but mostly the coffee was overpowered by the milk – not as harmonious as it should be. The barista rushed the coffees and obviously had no passion in coffee.

Espressino (Götgatan 9, Södermalm) 

Having visited this very stylish and chic café last summer, Espressino was a definite pick. They have the largest coffee machine I have ever seen, a 5-gruppo Linea (2- and 3-gruppo Lineas fixed together, though only three group heads were in use). Mazzer Robur seems to be very popular in Stockholm as also Espressino had two of them. The coffee was roasted by Johan&Nyström.

               Mr. God Shot wasn't around at Espressino today.

I knew our espressos would not be any special as soon as the barista started to make them. Although there was not any queue he didn't give any attention to distributing or tamping the coffee. The result was a thin crema. The coffee didn't seem very fresh and the taste of the espresso was sour and stale, although I found some reminiscent of milk chocolate. Compared to last summer's visit when I had an amazing shot, this was quite miserable. At least I enjoyed the decoration.

Drop Coffee (Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 10, Södermalm. T-bana: Mariatorget)

Having wondered around the city with icy wind blowing from everywhere we were delighted to find this tiny café. The place was exactly what I was looking for this trip: great, variable coffees from numerous micro roasteries, beautiful espresso (both the machine, Synesso, and the coffee itself) and stunningly nice and friendly coffee people. Unsurprisingly we ordered espressos. Even for my taste buds it was a bit too ristretto; the intense aroma of liquorice overpowered the more subtle notes that the coffee (I would not know for sure) had.

                                             Coffees from Swedish micro roasteries.

                             Some seriously good coffee.


 We chatted with the staff for a long time and ended up trying several of their coffees, many of them were pretty good. I was curious to try their beautiful Synesso and they kindly let me. That shot was, in my opinion, better. I don't remember the exact taste profile because of all the excitement and buzz, but it was good. As they said, the Synesso is very nice to work with. A must for any coffee enthusiast visiting Stockholm!

Johan&Nyström concept store (Swedenborgsgatan 7, Södermalm)

                                These J&N photos are from last summer.

This great corner space is a great location for the concept store (=café with a gorgeous 3-gruppo Synesso, training space and small roastery) of the largest and best-known fresh coffee roastery in Sweden, Johan&Nyström.

                               One of the best espressos in my life.

We arrived just in time for the daily cupping, today's coffees coming from Asia. Sumatra natural processed, Monsoon Malabar from India and some other from Indonesia, can't remember exactly. Rather drinking lighter coffees these medium-to-dark and dark roasts were not my all time favorite. The lightest coffee from Sumatra was alright in the cupping table but as espresso it was something else.

I have never had so balanced and sweet Single Estate –espresso in my entire life (though the amount of SE-espressos I've drunk can be counted with two hand's fingers). Their espresso blend called Five Estates (the coffee coming from five different estates, hence the name) was interesting but didn't bring anything very exciting or unusual. The barista told us that because of the numerous coffees it had the tastes can be completely different even by small adjustments to brewing parameters.

Very interesting coffees and nice people with a good knowledge of their coffee, J&N's concept store is indisputably worth a visit.

I guess I should also include a word of warning here: having drunk some 10 cups of coffee during the day we suffered the worst caffeine hangover ever but it was definitely worth it! The coffee scene of our dear Nordic neighbor is miles ahead of ours and I reckon that every coffee enthusiast should make a pilgrimage there, not to mention other towns like Malmö, Göteborg (or Gothenburg) and Helsingborg (disclaimer: I have visited these cities myself so don't blame on me if you get disappointed!)

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