Meet Ild og Bønner
“The whole process from farm to cup is pretty mind boggling and amazing really with every little element along the way playing a role in what is nally in the cup”
Enjoy our interview With Joel - Head roaster and founder of Ild og Bønner
- What coffee are you drinking at the moment?
A test brew of the subscription coffees actually (yes, both, but not mixed of course)
- Is there a part of the process from bean to cup that you love the most? If so: why?
Of course the roasting process, closely followed by the first grind/brew/sip when you've nailed a profile. The whole process from farm to cup is pretty mind boggling and amazing really with every little element along the way playing a role in what is finally in the cup, but I'll stick to my narrowed down answer I started with, haha.
- Is there a coffee you roasted that remains significant in your memory for the way it turned out or a story that lives around such a moment? E.g. your first, a surprise batch, a flavour note that still makes you smile?
Las Lajas Diamantes Negros from Costa Rica. A black honey process that still makes me smile every time I interact with it in any way. Even the green beans smell amazing.
- Where did you start in coffee and how did you get to this point today?
I still recall, as a 16 year old 2nd year apprentice chef, I started a new job back home in Australia in a cafe and one of the first things the Head Chef asked me as he was showing me around (as we passed the espresso machine) was "Do you drink coffee?"...to which I answered "no". He chuckled and simply said "you will!". Turns out he was correct. Working in cafes and restaurant, of course I was always around coffee, but it was never my main focus, at often times purely a source to keep me going in crazy, long, hectic and stressful days. But, a little while before we moved to Norway I had decided it was time to get out of cheffing and find something new, but it had to be something I enjoyed and
could still be "creative" in my own way. The idea of roasting coffee jumped into my head and I liked it! But, then we moved to Norway, bought a house, renovated a house, had kids, bought another house and during all of this the idea was kind of forgotten. Then one day the idea came back and not too long after that the opportunity arose that I could actually jump at the chance and see what happened. After an extremely steep learning curve, lots of reading and of course,
lots and lots of experiments.....well, here I am. Still learning a lot all the time, but that's half the fun, right!?!?
- How come you made the leap to start your own business and how good has it been for you?
Honestly...after moving here and having already decided to no longer work in the industry I had spent the most part of my adult life working in, it wasn't all that easy to find a job that I wanted to do. Doing any old job just for
money and no satisfaction doesn't really work so well for me. So, yeah in the end I/we (Kristin (my wife) and I) decided I should go for it.
I think small business is most often going to be a bit of a struggle, especially at the start and it's not been any different than that for me. It was a bit of a gamble to open up a Specialty Coffee roastery in a small town Norway
but it's been pretty well received actually, which of course is fun.
- Any real highlights for you?
Highlights for me come from getting great feedback from customers and/or when good feedback comes from people within the industry who I respect.
I think this Bean Bros. process will be a bit of a highlight for a while, too (well I hope it is at least), but I don't want to jinx it, haha. I think it's awesome to have been picked out and included for something like this.
- Omniroasts vs Filter and Espresso as individual roasts – where are you on this?
I'm not in the omni fraternity.
- Where is coffee headed with interest in specialty coffee rising and climate change threatening to cause extinction of many varieties?
I'm pretty far from qualified to say where coffee is headed. But I think no matter what happens we'll always adapt and find a way to make it work. With that said we should of course take climate change seriously and do what we can also (not that I'm so qualified on that topic either)
- What changes have you seen within farming communities and wider since you first started work?
I've quite honestly been around in the industry for too short of a time period to have an overview of this. I see a lot of good projects at Origin and a lot of "suppliers" working hard to make sure the source of our liquid gold
and the people responsible there are looked after. But that has certainly not only just now started.
- As awareness grows and pushes out from independents and artisans, how much positive influence can you see this having with big corporates and really having a great impact on coffee producing countries?
There was an article here recently that was reporting on some of the "bigger fish" that had admitted that they no longer had full overview if some of the coffees they were purchasing were actually produced under more or less slave conditions.
I would like to think that things like that are brought out into the light of day at least in some part from the push in the specialty industry for transparency, traceability, fair payment structures, etc.
About Ild & Bonner
- This has been a big year for you and moving into a new location – how has it been?
Still moving in fact!!! I've still not yet managed to get everything out of the old location or everything properly finished at the new one. It's been a little bit manic to be perfectly honest. But I'm excited to see how things go in the new spot.
- What’s next?
Right now I'm actually not quite sure. Getting everything finished up at the roastery and surviving Christmas are high on the list right now. Once all that's done it'll be time to regroup a little and start making some plans.
- Where do you see Ild og Bønner within the superb Scandinavian coffee scene? Do you feel there is anything that sets you apart from others?
I think I'm still sitting a little quietly (well sort of quietly) on the fringes of "the scene" here. There is certainly no shortage of amazing coffee to be found in Norway. Haha....I'd love to tell you some amazing story about how unique and different my approach is, but unfortunately I can't. Just a guy roasting some coffee in small town Norway, hahaha.
- Fire and Beans! Is this a dramatic name or is there also a concept here?
It's certainly mostly a dramatic name. But of course fire and beans are two of the elements "necessary" to do what I do, so that's ultimately where it came from.
- What flavours do you like the most
Yeah, sampling is a huge part of any roaster's job. I tend to want to cup as may coffees as I can as you never know what's going to jump out at you and make you say "wow".
I'm always looking for balance and clarity/focused first. And naturally if I'm cupping for stock coffees I'm after a profile that isn't sitting in the coffees I already have. I don't see the point of having two similar flavour profiles in stock at the same time. I wouldn't say I'm striving for a signature, I just want my coffees to be the best I can make them and so that they make people happy.
Me personally I'm all over the place of the flavours I like. I love the super clean and focused fruit bombs, but then I also love a funky & boozy honey or natural process and yep even the super delicate and tea like profiles do it for me.
- Who excites you on the coffee scene right now and why – their coffee or their work through the chain or all!
I must admit that I'm not a big follower of the "coffee scene" as such, but of course it's hard not noticing some. With that said I like what Talor & Jørgen are up to. They have a clear vision, good ethics, are having fun doing it and banging out amazing coffees while they're at it.
- You seem to be building a strong relationship with Las Delicias – is there a goal you both have? What do you love about their coffee and approach that has encouraged this?
I kind of stumbled over Las Delicias (Manolo) quite early on when I was getting started. Manolo had posted on the Coffee Roasters Forum on facebook about being interested in Direct Trade with their coffee, etc.
They were just getting the family farm up and going again after they had to stop producing for some years. This sounded rather interesting to me and we got got in touch. Since then we've maintained good contact
and they love getting feedback and doing all they can to improve which I think is great. They are really striving to make production on their farm sustainable and are heavily focused on quality. They have a Geisha project underway
now, too, which I am closely keeping my eyes on. But of course that's a rather long term project, but long term projects are a good sign in my eyes.
We both love the "direct trade" (well as direct as I can get at the moment) option as it gives us the opportunity to help each other when it comes to quality, feedback, etc. And even for marketing, of course.
Since we were both getting started at the same time and are both small we think it's a great opportunity to grow together, too. Getting the chance to have them visit the roastery here in Norway a couple of months back
was amazing. Didn't expect to manage that being such a small roastery and all.