Introducing Solberg & Hansen from Oslo, Norway in our February boxes.
Our coffee this month…
It is our pleasure to bring to you this month some wonderful coffees from Tade Farm, Ethiopia roasted by Solberg & Hansen. We hope that you enjoy this special selection and will take a moment to learn some more about our featured roaster.
Their underlying vision is to be a door opener for a better cup. This is evident in everything they do. In talking with them it led me to wonder, what is a better cup?
It is not only what you have in front of you to drink and enjoy, that is merely the culmination of significant effort, focus and passion combined over a long period of time.
A better cup is generated through a continuous process and investment not just focussed on one aspect of the chain or in the final minutes as the brew crosses your lips at the end of its physical journey.
Even as that journey ends, it should inspire another where you take your part, moved by what you have learned and tasted, driven to share this experience and help to improve, promote and grow what we have here.
A better cup is demonstrated in many ways – not just a moment but many moments. A movement of shared passion and belief, where every party contributes and gains from the process.
Established in 1879 and with a clear initiative on sourcing specialty coffee; quality before everything else - and a willingness to pay for it.
They promote long-term relationships with the producers knowing that investment in time, good payments, and ongoing development will serve the best coffee.
Solberg & Hansen have a strong belief in specialty coffee; the high quality, the great taste, the influence on local development when trading with dedicated farmers, the concern and care baristas and consumers have for the commodities they use. The drive and passion is there to communicate this with even more people.
Sourcing great coffee and making a difference at source…
We talked to two of the team at Solberg & Hansen, first up Alexander Scheen Jensen who is responsible for purchasing coffee and has been with the company since 2009.
What practical elements assist producers and farmers develop?
We believe in knowledge, research and farmers that want to try other processes and varieties. Resourceful buyers and importers with capacity and knowledge are important to farmers and exporters by telling them what kind of coffee they are willing to pay more money for.
What significant changes have you seen since you first started working in coffee?
Leaf rust, new varieties, climate change and in general more knowledge from farmers regarding drying and processing.
We are delighted to have some coffees from Tade farm this month, how special is your collaboration with them?
Solberg & Hansen were the first to buy his coffee back in 2009. We consider him as a friend and he has visited us in Norway like we have several times visited him in Guji.
Is this something that you feel can become a standard model for production across the industry?
We do feel that others can do the same and it is a good thing both for farmers and our customers.
What contribution do you feel it is important to make close to the coffee origin?
Long-term relations, predictability, and sharing of information and knowledge.
Roasting and competing…
We also had the pleasure of talking with Simo Kristidi, Roast Master since 2008 and with the company for 14 years. We took some time here to understand his approach to roasting and also how he enjoyed the experience at the Nordic Roast Forum toward the end of 2017.
Is there a coffee you roasted that remains significant to you?
Jesus Saavedra – during the last Nordic Roaster, the coffee was incredibly well developed 3 days after roasting. It was beyond my expectations on the cupping table, by far the best. You never know when the sweet spot for a specific coffee will develop, and this is very exciting.
What is your thought and tasting process when finding the right profile for a new batch of coffee?
For each coffee, we try to create a unique profile based on the coffees natural attributes and technical information (bean size, altitude, etc.). Further on, the rate of rise curve, and the development level has a tremendous impact on the way we create a profile, and the final result.
Is this influenced by what you like, by how Solberg & Hansen like to represent coffee or by what is right for that batch?
I get feedback from the purchasers on what flavour profile they hope to achieve. From that point on, I use my roasting techniques to find the correct profile.
This month we have a washed and a natural, how does your approach to roasting each differ?
Both coffees come from the same farm in Ethiopia, which gives us similar technical attributes. African coffees, and specifically Ethiopian coffees, in general, benefit from a fast roast. By this, I mean that the total roasting is shorter in time. We roast like this to highlight the floral and natural characteristics of the coffee.
The washed Tade is roasted quite light to highlight bergamot and peach flavours, while the natural Tade is roasted a bit darker to add some complexity, for example blueberry and plum.
Do you have a favourite country of origin for beans you roast?
Kenya, Burundi, and Honduras!
Do you have a favourite processing method?
Washed is best! Washed coffee is more predictable to work with, cleaner. It is more effected by the roast rather than by the process, like honey or natural coffees that are impacted by the process.
You were at the Nordic Roasting Competition toward the end of last year. Well done for winning the Colombian category! When we spoke to Tim Wendelboe and Christian Gullbrandsson about their success there, they both said you had the best lot on the table that day!
Thank you, I agree!
Do you enjoy this forum and how challenging is it to compete here?
I always enjoy the competitions, and specifically Nordic Roast. It is challenging because you are competing with the best roasteries in Scandinavia. We are proud of the fact that we are almost always in the top 2 and have won several times.
How did you find the compulsory round? It’s a great idea for everyone to use the same beans but what challenges did this present for you?
It was fun. The size of the roaster was the biggest challenge for me, as we only had enough coffee for 2 batches. We used a Loring smart roast, with a minimum capacity of 10 kilos. Given the fact that my first batch didn’t turn out as I had planned, I had only one chance left.
Is there anything different you could have done which may have impacted the overall result?
I would have run a totally different profile on the compulsory coffee. This is always a learning process, and I would definitely roast this coffee with a shorter profile if I could do it again.
As a multiple overall winner at this competition in the past, is the target to get another victory in 2018?
Always! Winning is the goal, but it is not the only motivating factor. You learn a lot from competing and analysing the coffee profiles.
There are some amazing roasters at this competition, how do you think the Nordic Roast scene compares against others around the world?
I would say that 10 years ago Nordic Roast was miles ahead of the rest of the world. Right now, the coffee scene worldwide has developed tremendously. Nordic Roast still represents innovation and is a challenging competition – but the rest of Europe and specifically Asia have really developed fast in the last decade.
What roasters really interest you for the work they are doing?
Audun Sørbotten, a previous colleague, and world coffee champion. He has a roastery in Poland. He is one of the few roasters I know who roasts using a scientific method instead of a subjective approach, which gives his product more stability and better results.
What other competitions interest you?
I plan on competing in the Norwegian roasting championship, and cup tasting competition.