Wineweek 80: Pictures From New York

Finally I have a chance to post some proper pictures. I was running around with my camera all week in New York, however, was not able to edit them before returning home. The only place I skipped having the camera was 11 Madison Park. I felt it was slightly inappropriate to hover over all of the nice dishes with my heavy Nikon. I will spend some time writing more about wine bars and restaurants during the coming week. Until then, enjoy the photos! Continue reading “Wineweek 80: Pictures From New York”

Wineweek 68: Nordic Stars

Last week of February. The winter is soon over. Can you count March as spring already? The weather this weekend has definitely been spring-like, and we have moved on to a lighter profile of wines. I am definitely a white-wine person 80% of the year. There has been some exciting news coming out this week, with a new Guide de Michelin for the Nordics. Stockholm managed yet again to miss out on that magical three stars, but at least we got two top-tier (***) restaurants to the Nordics: Maaemo (Oslo) and Geranium (Copenhagen). I will write more about the Stockholm restaurants during the coming week. Continue reading “Wineweek 68: Nordic Stars”

Solde: Excellent roaster and coffee bar in Malmö

I have a somewhat special relationship with this place. For the year and a half or so that I l lived in Malmö it was my go to place. I passed it on my 5 minute walk from home to the office everyday and almost always went in there for a cup to go. Being from Stockholm it is not always that one is met with great friendliness and warmth in Skåne (or when I think of it not in many places outside Stockholm at all) but I always loved the friendly and relaxed atmosphere here. The clientele was and is extremely hipster so if you are allergic to that go elsewhere. For me the good coffee makes me overcome my aversion to hipsters. The coffee has always been very consistent high quality and that is what I really like here. I do not believe I have ever had a bad cup of coffee in this place. That said, I do also seldom come away feeling as it is the best cup I ever had either but they are really solid.

These days they roast their own coffee and they are really good. They do not have the widest range but always some good stuff. At the coffee bar I would mainly go for the espresso based beverages as the skilled baristas here really know how to use the espresso machine. There are also filter coffees available and those are pretty good as well.

solde5

Food wise there is basic breakfast stuff as well as pastries and cookies. There are no full meals so more a place to stop by for a cup and a small bite and then be on your way. In a sense the vibe is a bit like what an Italian espresso bar would be if they served good coffee.It is fairly small so not the place to hang out for a long time and not really enough space to comfortably work or so but still one of the top spots in Malmö for coffee and good service.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 4
Food: 3
Vs local competition: 4.5

Espresso House in Hötorgshallen (Stockholm) delivering quality coffee

One of my favorite  coffee bars in Stockholm belong to the chain Espresso House. They do perhaps not in general contribute to the great coffee scene but rather bringing up the average quality be serving a decent cup. The location in Hötorgshallen is however their showroom and have both better coffee and more skilled baristas than their other locations. Hötorgshallen is a food hall in the center of Stockholm and this café is on the ground floor alongside several other restaurants and cafés and downstairs in the basement there are numerous vendors selling cheese, meat, vegetables, nuts, spices and many other things (there is even a Finnish specialty food store). In general a nice place to browse but it also means a lot of people moving through there so even if there is free wifi and some space to sit at Espresso house it is still not a really great place to hang out for a long period of time. The staff are however very knowledgeable and friendly so still like the place.

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The main thing is however the coffee. As all Espresso house they have coffee roasted by Solberg & Hansen but in addition to the normal range of five different coffees to select from they have an additional three to five different ones. Usually these ones are more interesting and smaller lots. All coffees can be ordered as hand-brews and are very nicely prepared. The espresso based beverages are also good but I am not a super-fan of their espresso blend.

The food selection is virtually non-existent, only some cakes and pastries but they do kindly offer to grab some food from the other places and still sit and eat it at the tables at Espresso House.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 3.5
Food: 1
Vs local competition: 4.5

White Label Coffee: Top roaster in Amsterdam

The coffee Monday this week goes back to Amsterdam. When people talk about Amsterdam and coffee in the same sentence it has historically been more the coffee shops where there is more smoking than coffee drinking go on. The specialty coffee scene in Amsterdam is however really taking off and in the past couple of years a variety of new places have popped up. One of my recent discoveries is White Label Coffee in the western part of Amsterdam.  I first encountered their coffee at Kokko in Helsinki and then decided to make sure to have time to visit.

Filter coffee
Filter coffee
Cool espresso machine
Cool espresso machine

They have a rather spacious café where they roast coffee, sell beans and some equipment as well as of course serve the coffee. They have a wide range of coffee for sale and upon my visit they had an impressive seven different coffees available to order as hand-brewed filters. The guys working here really know how to make their coffee, very nicely prepared. The roasting is also very good and I was impressed by filter as well as cold brew. For me they are among the top coffee places in town and for me they are currently only beaten by Scandinavian Embassy but I do believe the fact that these guys roast their own coffee is something that may in the long run make them number one.

There is some simple café food on offer and nice apple pie and other pastries but I would still not say that it is the place to come for a full meal. What they have is however nice and decently priced. I like the atmosphere of the place and the people working there are very friendly so it is a nice place to hang at. It is fairly spacious and has free wifi so it is also possible to hang around for a longer period of time.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 4.5
Food: 3
Vs local competition: 4.5

Good coffee and great for brunch&breakfast: Kafé Orion, Stockholm

Just a few steps from Odenplan the people behind Kafe Esaias (named on NYT list of the best espresso in the world) have opened a small spot for coffee and light food. I do like the look of this small space with wooden tables and green walls. The staff are friendly but often busy as there is a steady stream of customers. Not really the place to sit for hours as no free wifi and for some reason my mobile barely gets a signal.

The coffee used is DaMatteo so the roast is good but the main draw back here is that unlike at Kafe Esaias they do not make any hand-brewed coffee. The espresso based beverages are all very good but to really be a good coffee spot I require hand-brewed coffee. This more falls into the category of place that I pick-up a coffee at if I am in the neighborhood but not worth a trip.

The food is however very good, nice sandwiches, great omelets and salads so a perfect place for breakfast and brunch.

So how does rate:
Coffee quality: 2.5
Ambiance and service: 3.5
Food: 4
Vs local competition: 2.5

Forloren espresso -among the top places for coffe in Copenhagen

Today the coffee bar review focuses on Copenhagen and then most of you are probably thinking that it will be Coffee Collective but think again. While I am actually writing this from Coffee collective at Torvehallarna the focus is one of my favorite coffee bars, the small Forloren Espresso. They are a nice addition to the otherwise largely touristy area around Kongens Nytorv. They have a clear focus on quality coffee and often have for example La Cabra available. They do however rotate the selection and usually have a few different hand brews to choose from. Execution is usually very good, have had a few that have been really great but always at least good. Espresso based is also reliable.

  
Service is usually polite but I would not call it friendly. It is also very meticulous and may be a bit slow at times. So while the execution is good, there may be a wait for your coffee and there is perhaps not much of an invitation to chat or talk with the staff. That said I still like it and while it feels more un-Danish (would be more Swedish or Finnish) to be a bit quiet they still do a good is job. There is also free wifi so while the place is small it is still possible to sit around for a while.

  
There are also some pastries and cafe style food so no need to go hungry. I would however perhaps still mainly come for the coffee. All in all a very good place for coffee in a city that despite some really good places suffer from a pretty poor average quality.

So how does rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 3.5
Food: 3
Vs local competition: 5

Mother’s milk – truly excellent coffee bar experience in London

I am trying to return to some sort of order here in the posts for the so called Coffee Monday’s so today it actually posts on a Monday and with a real favorite both in terms of city and coffee bar. London is full of excellent places for coffee and I have a great many that I hold in high regard so naming one as the best is difficult. I do however hold Mother’s Milk as perhaps the best coffee quality.

The place is located just a few blocks north of Oxford circus (12 Portland Street, W1W 8BJ) and it is a little gem of a coffee place. It is run by two experienced baristas who really know their coffee. It is a tiny place (3 seats inside and a bench outside) so much of the business is take out. The menu is simple and straightforward. Everything on there is £3 (espresso, espresso with milk and filter) and made on order. The coffee is from reputable German roaster JB coffee (same as Rapha used in the past – before they decided to both ditch quality coffee and good staff) so quality of the beans is great and since they know how to make coffee the result is top notch. I have never had a bad cup of coffee here and usually stick to the excellent aeropress but the cold brew is also great.

Service is friendly and it is nice to have a seat and chat a bit about coffee. There is no food at all so if you are after other things than coffee then this place may not be for you. There is also no wifi so not the place to linger for a day. I am a fan and they really started the trend of good coffee around this area(since then Curators and Workshop also opened close by) and it is nice to have a good place for coffee if shopping at Oxford Street. The main drawback is that they are only open weekdays but as the guys work elsewhere as well  that is understandable.

So how does rate:
Coffee quality: 4.5
Ambiance and service: 3.5 (great service but so tiny so not really the place to hang out for a longer time)
Food: –
Vs local competition: 5

Cafe del Volcan: Still going strong on Shanghai’s specialty coffee scene

Among the first on the specialty coffee scene in Shanghai were Cafe del Volcan. They are still going strong and while the cafe is tiny they have a large business selling the roasted beans to other cafes and businesses. The cafe has only a few seats indoors and two tables outside so in total it can seat around 10 people. There is a large selection of different coffee beans to choose from and there is a choice of having it either hot or cold. Of course there is also the option of espresso based beverages.

The coffee quality here is in general high but not reaching the top international quality level. As in most places I have tried in Shanghai the roast is slightly to dark and while the quality is good they are still clearly not among the top ones in the world (in my world I am then talking of the likes of Heart, Tim Wendelboe, Roots and perhaps JB) but still doing an admirable job. The Kenyan filter was excellent, especially iced but the Guatemalan and Ethiopian ones were good but not top notch. What I found very interesting was that they seem very adapt at making the coffee taste great with the beans they have. I did buy some beans with me and I did not come anywhere near producing the same results as they did – when I made it at home it was not good at all. It may of course have something to do with my skills but in general I am fairly good at making coffee and I tried it as Aeropress, Chemex, V60, Gold Filter, Clever and on a regular Mocca Master and while it came out decent with some methods it was still not as good as the cup I had at the cafe. So the staff are perhaps better than the quality of the beans.


Food is non existent but there are a few cookies on sale but for those hungry this is not the place. The service was as I have almost come to expect in Shanghai specialty coffee places excellent and very friendly. They made sure we got proper information on the coffees, were happy to chat and also made sure that we knew that they were cleaning the espresso machine on arrival so it would 5-10 minutes before they could make espresso based beverages. They also offer free wifi but since the place is small it is not inviting to stay for too long.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 3.5
Ambiance and service: 3.5
Food: 1
Vs local competition: 5

Original Coffee, Copenhagen – good alternative to other chains  

Time flies and it is Monday again so once again coffee focus on the Winecurious. If you feel a need for more coffee things do also check out the Coffee Curious here on wordpress and on twitter.

This week the focus is on Copenhagen, the coffee scene in Copenhagen is still dominated by Coffee Collective and they have to some  extent been so good that the competition has been stifled. They remain good but now there are several new good places as well. Original coffee is a small chain and this review is of their Bredgade location. The space is not huge but there are plenty of seats and it is very light and airy space so a perfect place to sit and relax. Free wifi and electricity available makes it ideal to sit for longer periods of time. Service is friendly and knowledgeable, no problem chatting a bit about the coffee. The nice attitude is also conveyed on their website where they happily recommend other good coffee places both in Copenhagen and in other cities.

The coffee is provided by local roasters Kontra Coffee and there are usually a few (when I visited three, normally between two and four) filter coffees to choose from as well as two espresso blends. The ‘normal’ is a blend of Brazilian, Kenyan and Ethiopian while the ‘modern’ one is only Ethiopian. It is nice to be able to do some sampling between the two – I found the Ethiopian more fun and interesting but I would expect the blend to be the big seller. The filter coffee can be ordered as batch brew or hand brew. The hand brew was very well executed and I also sampled some espresso based beverages that were nicely prepared. The coffee is good but perhaps not the most exciting. I was also visiting during a fairly slow time so would be interesting to see how the quality is when they are more busy.

There is a good selection of simpler breakfast and brunch dishes as well as sandwiches and some pastries. So while it is not a full restaurant one can definitely get some food here and it is also very good.

So how does it rate:
Coffee quality: 4
Ambiance and service: 4
Food: 3.5
Vs local competition: 4.5