Ever since I moved to Sweden I have become an avid coffee drinker. Sweden’s coffee culture was one of the first features I embraced. Sweden tops world coffee consumption statistics, ranking second only to neighbouring Finland. Coffee plays a crucial role in everyday life in Sweden. I remember how important the role of coffee breaks was at university here. Every couple of hours or so we would get a coffee break. It was sacred, there was no way we would not stop for coffee.
Coming from the land of espresso, at first I couldn’t imagine how Sweden could take coffee more seriously than Italy. In Italy our tiny cups of thick coffee shots are quite sacred, a meal is not a meal if you don’t end it with an espresso. Yet from my very early days in this country I came to realize that coffee here is on a totally different level. It’s not just a food item that marks the end of a meal. It’s a ritual.
I have written about the ritual of fika in Stockholm, and how this coffee culture has inspired the establishment of so many coffee shops. There is nothing more pleasant than retreating into a cozy café after walking in the cold. This time I want to focus on the actual coffee. Coffee culture means also knowledge and understanding of the delicious beverage, not just the appreciation of the coffee ritual. So I headed to the only coffee roastery there is in the town of Falun, where I reside: Hedens Kaffe.
Hedens Kaffe roastery
Hedens Kaffe was established in 2015 when Tom, the man behind the coffee, moved from England to Sweden. A coffee enthusiast passionate about coffee culture and micro roasteries in the UK, Tom discovered to his dismay that there was no coffee roastery in the city of Falun, where he had settled in Sweden. His passion for coffee and the determination to take up a new challenge just months after moving to a new country were the driving force behind the establishment of Hedens Kaffe. What kicked off as a small project soon started gathering attention in the community. Following the encouraging success that his project was meeting, Tom invested in a bigger roasting machine and moved the roastery to a more central location.
Tom was kind enough to host me and a few other people for a coffee tasting where I got to visit the premises and get to know more about his project and his vision. After learning about the company and the coffee types they produce, we moved on to the coffee tasting. Coffee tasting is not only about sampling the finished brewed beverage, but it is a process that involves more senses than just taste.
Hedens Kaffe’s coffee
Hedens Kaffe currently produces three types of coffee. They are all single-origin, certified organic and sourced from sustainable farming. They differ in the geographic origin of the beans and in the degree of roast. There is an interesting feature that gives this coffee a nice personality and that is the choice of the names. Inspired by the UNESCO World Heritage Site found in Falun, the Falu Copper Mine, Hedens Kaffe’s coffee packages take their names from three characters tied with the history of the Falun mine.
Bocken Kåre was the first coffee made at Hedens Kaffe roastery. It is named after the goat Kåre, who is said to be the discoverer of the copper ore in Falun. This coffee is a medium roast made of beans from Colombia.
Gruvfrun is a legendary lady that inhabits the mine. She is said to decide when mining can happen, ad she used to appear to miners to warn them of imminent danger. After her takes its name Hedens Kaffe’s dark roast of Indonesian beans.
Fet Mats was a young miner who tragically died in a work accident in 1677. His body was not recovered until 42 years later, when other miners found him intact due to the peculiar environment where he had rested after his passing. In his honour Hedens Kaffe makes a Light roast of Malawi beans.
During the tasting session the first thing we got to do was touch and smell the green beans. It was the first time in my life I got to handle unroasted coffee beans, so it was very interesting. Next, each of us got a handful of roasted beans and a chart also known as the coffee taster’s flavour wheel. It includes the many nuances that coffee can have, going from more general flavours found in the middle to more specific flavours on the outer rim of the wheel. For example, a coffee that falls into the “spices” category, can later be identified as “brown spice” and then its flavour spectrum can narrow down to the actual spice it evokes, for example nutmeg.
After smelling the whole beans Tom ground them on the spot for us and asked us to smell again. Of course we were able to pick up even more flavour. Surprisingly for some of us it no longer matched the one we had identified when smelling the whole beans. Ground, the flavour gained complexity and it seemed to shift on the flavour wheel. Lastly, Tom poured boiling water over our ground beans. First, we just smelled, then we actually tasted. If my perception of the flavour had been quite consistent up to the last smelling, when I tasted the coffee I picked up flavours that I had not detected only with my nose.
The tasting experience really made me focus on the many aspects that a food item like coffee possesses. I tend to be more interested in the brewing technique than in the coffee itself. I have recently learned the concept of “third wave coffee”. It is the name of a movement that focuses on coffee as an artisanal food like chocolate, wine or beer. Third wave coffee promotes awareness of the type of beans, their origin and level of roast. The coffee drinker is informed and curious about all the factors that, combined, make up the content of their cup.
I still like the idea of coffee as a ritual and tend to prefer the social aspect of it. It just takes a little bit of awareness and appreciation to take your fika to the next level.