Solberg & Hansen - Featured Roaster in September 2020
Welcome subscribers, to the September Bean Bros selection!
For us, Norway holds a special place in the coffee world, with some of the best roasters based here. This country has such a high count of extermely superb quality coffee roasters! However, it wasn’t hard to pick our roaster this month, as we have gone with one of the greatest... Solberg & Hansen!
We hope you enjoy the coffee, the new branding and our interview with the team. Edited version in your box and full version on the website, where, in case you didn’t know...we also have a fabulous collection of coffee accessories for all your brewing needs
How are the fresh, seasonal offerings looking this year & any you are particularly excited about?
We are excited about our first anaerobic coffee (El Salvador pacamara) that we just launched together with our fresh crop Ethiopians. We still have some Geisha from the farm El Obraje that are scoring very high. We have also launched two different Guatemalas – Las Rocas in our micro segment and Las Minas in our classic segment.
The new packaging and branding look amazing. What prompted the change and is there a story to tell about the new look?
Thanks – we are very pleased with the result! We launched the last brand re-vamp in 2012, and realized very shortly after launch that we had created a system that was very complex – our customers had a hard time understanding the system we had created. The bags and labels at this time had very little visual differentiation, so all coffees from the same world region ended up looking basically the same.
The marketing department has worked tirelessly with our green bean buyers (Alex and Morten) and the sales department to make a better system. Our goal was to create something that really shows the difference between coffees, not only world region, but also cupping score, quality, blends and espressos.
Solberg & Hansen usually has around 40 different coffees on the menu year round! Since most of our coffees are direct trade, the challenge was to make a system that categorizes all of these coffees in a way that is intuitive and easily understood by the consumer!
We have divided our assortment into 4 main categories. Filter coffee into 2 categories, spor (traceability) and Sans (sense/flavor), a category for blends (classics like Java-mocca) and one for espresso. Inside these categories we have 3 levels of quality. The higher the quality the more complex the label. We think this works – at least so far we have only received positive feedback from our customers! We would love to hear your feedback on this!
Have you had to stop any farm travel plans you had this year? Anything in particular that it is a shame to miss?
We planned to visit some of our farmers in Brazil in May-June and also looked forward to visiting Colombia. We see that we probably won’t travel in 2021 either and are working with partners and farmers with a different approach regarding samples and communication in general.
How do you run cupping at the roastery – do you all always agree or is there lots of debate too? Because of the covid-19 we don’t cup from the same cup and have some different approach from the normal. We have two purchasers and I have to say that we are pretty well calibrated. So, if we know what we are looking for, we seldom have any long debates.
Great selection for this month, tell us a bit about them.
- Spor (traceability) We have for many years worked directly with many of our coffee suppliers, and coffees from these farmers come in a sea-green bag, with a background image of a coffee plantation.
- Sans (Senses/Flavor) Coffees we purchase based purely on their flavor profile and region of origin.
- Cerro Los Tamales. This is a coffee in category «Spor», coffees we have a long relationship with the farmer. Coffee comes from the region Chalatenango. Sergio Ticas took over the farm over 20 years ago and has since then worked to improve coffee quality and farm conditions. In 2006 his coffee from Finca Los Planes came in 2nd in COE El Salvador.
- Coffee in our «Sans» selection from washing station Thunguri, located 2500meters over sea level! They are well known for only processing ripe berries
- Jesus A. Saavedra. «Spor» coffee from Columbia. We met Jesus a few years ago while Alex was visiting local farmers, and since then we have purchased everything he produces! A fantastic story of farmer and roaster relationship.
Any brew recommendations: recipes you would like to share.
- Coarser grind for the Geisha. We grind 0,5 coarser than normal for Columbia on our EK43. Otherwise brew parameters are pretty standard when it comes to pour time, bloom etc.
- Brew underextracted! Mathallen staff prefer brewing a little underextracted so the citrus tones are more prevalent.
- Let it rest. With a coffee of this quality and complexity it is important to let it rest a short while – the flavors really come out as it cools.
What are your plans for the future and have these changed radically due to current times.
Thinking forward our goals and plans have not changed much. We may have set lower sales goals for this year, but our level of activity has not decreased – it has increased.
We will continue to responsibly hold coffee & tea courses (more often with fewer participants), visit customers, hold activities, and work with them as closely as possible. Delivering fantastically roasted coffee, stable quality, delivery and customer service you can depend on are some of our strongest attributes, and we have no plans on changing this focus!
Are there any competitions you are keen to get involved with when things get back to normal
This depends on what happens this year, but we currently plan on participating in the Nordic Roast competition, and the regional and hopefully world roasting championships. We have also purchased in a Christmas coffee micro lot with the express purpose of winning some of the local christmas coffee tastings!
How did the current situation impact you and your customers?
As with every other industry we have been greatly impacted by the Covid-19 epidemic. Many of our customers closed partially or completely the first few months of lock-down, and we had to place several employees on furlow. Considering that we have still had a great year. The sales team has worked actively with our customers to help them through this period, and we have also seen increase in new customers. The fact that Norwegians were forced to vacation in Norway has greatly benefitted smaller, outlying communities – who have seen a tremendous growth this summer. The bigger cities, like Oslo and Bergen, have not seen the same growth as the countryside – but have delivered flat or postive growth over the summer.
Any words of wisdom or hope to share with our subscribers at this time.
My advice is that now, more than ever, we have to focus on the customer experience. There are fewer people on the streets, and that means that you have to make every sale count! We have seen that since people are not purchasing coffee or visiting a coffee bar every day, they are spending more when they do. Make sure you have products that you can easily up-sell/recommend to customers. Most people want to support their local coffee bar and there is a good chance that they are open to purchase wholebeans from you now.
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