Visited: 08/08/07Norway – Oslo (Part 1)
I was going to Oslo with very high expectations, but never did I imagine having such a wonderful experience. Oslo is recognised as the best city in Europe for having wonderful espresso and rightfully so. It was fascinating to see how much different Oslo espresso is from the rest of the world, a very specific palate for lightly roasted coffees with bright acidic notes.
Tim Wendelboe (Grünersgate 1) – the name really speaks for itself. Straight off the plane this is the first place that I went to. It is a little tricky to find but if Tim is roasting you can let your nose guide you there. This shop has been long anticipated by many people in the coffee industry, as you might know Tim won the 5th annual world barista title in 2004 and he is all about perfection. This espresso bar/micro-roastery is a paradise to any barista. I saw it as an amazing playground with expensive toys but never the less they mean serious business there! You tend to loose your eyes among all the trophies on the wall while anxiously waiting for your espresso. Finally it was in front of me - the long awaited shot of coffee but I will get to what I thought of it a little later …
Tim has an amazing space that he designed himself, a luxurious bar with wide work benches. The machine is perfectly lifted for a barista to work, even the customers bar fits the shape of the magnificent Marzocco FB80. I was the first guest barista behind that bar and am very proud of that fact. This FB80 is like no other, it is custom built according to Tims order, you can trigger each group to run at different set temperatures allowing the machine to function like a synesso. The word on the street is that La Marzocco soon will have that option available for customers on demand. Mind you, Tim also re-wired the whole place just to have his grinders running on 3 phase, so of cause he has a Mazzer Robour. In his cupping lab he has a small PROBAT microroaster that has never been used yet and a GS3 that is an absolute eye candy of a machine! You can tell by the picture how much geekiness there is in the setup, did anyone notice how far away the grinder is from the machine haha. Anyway Tim loves that machine and pulls very decent shots on it, the only thing is the boiler is awfully close to the top surface, so the cups get extremely hot. La Marzocco have tried to insulate the boiler but the heat from it is still great. You could say that this espresso bar was designed by a real coffee geek and rightfully so Tim is a pioneer in latest and greatest. Even his water filters through a special stone allowing him to sweeten it. This way he can afford to roast lighter and allow natural acidity to shine through with water sweetening the overall balance, all fascinating nerdy stuff but the end result is so damn worth it!
So espresso … the roast was very fresh when I tried it so we didn’t get the best out of the coffee as I had mentioned in my “Espresso Cupping with Tim Wendelboe” blog post, please read it and relate to it. The coffee had a distinct aroma of blueberry bouquet, and on the palate that fruity acidity, with slightly smoky feel and texture due to freshness of the coffee. I bought a small bag of beans to take home with me to Sweden, to test the espresso again and get maximum out of it at the right time. I have tried it when it was 3 weeks from its roast and I must say the results were mind-blowing. Although I didn’t have all the gadgets Tim does I was still able to pull an amazing shot on the trusty FB80.
The coffee was showing light oils due to its light roast, I pulled shots like Tim would, dosing just on the 18g line with a finer grind allowing the shot of espresso to run for its full length right through the colour change. He specifically designed it this way so it would be unfair to judge it otherwise. Having aged the coffee; the smokiness was no longer present, instead I was treated to an array of new flavours and much smoother tasting espresso. The smell evolved from very floral into a fruity almost citrus-like aroma. On the palate it very much reflected that natural fruity acidity with an amazingly smooth taste right to the last drop. I was very impressed how delicious it was with milk too … this time I used Swedish milk which is 100 times better than Norwegian milk. I don’t normally judge coffee by adding milk but this was spectacular. Not a hint of bitterness or unpleasantness, very smooth with milk adding on additional sweetness, really enjoyed it!
I simply have to bow to Tims efforts and achievements, this is the guy that was and is my idol through the very start of my coffee days. I am very blessed to have visited him, although it was only for few days I learnt so much. This espresso bar sits right at the top of my list of places that I have visited. Ten out of ten!