The Coffee Professionals

The Coffee Professionals’ Committee

By Chris Kolbu

Leaping onto the Oslo coffee scene is The Coffee Professionals’ Committee. The brainchild of Rasmus Helgebostad, multiple Norwegian Cup Tasting Champion, fixture of the Bergen coffee scene and recent Oslo transplant, the “committee” will meet once every month to sample a broad range of both domestic and internationally available coffees.

Kaffens Faglige Utvalg as it is called in Norwegian, is a play on the Norwegian media watchdog organization PFU. Though the name might seem stilted at first glance, the entire concept makes the name Rasmus chose for it wonderfully droll. The concept is an evolution of the staff cuppings he held at Kaffemisjonen in Bergen.

Broadly speaking, the idea is for coffee professionals in Oslo and Norway to have a continual method of tasting and forming an opinion on the coffee that is being brewed and served outside the respective offerings of their employer. Tunnel vision – or rather, palate – is relatively common in baristas or roasters who taste mostly their own coffees, and varying degrees of chauvinism exist because of it. Held at Fuglen, the KFU is free, but limited to a small amount of participants – due entirely to the logistics of cupping.

The international and domestic coffees are served as separate flights: the former more to give perspective and for sheer interest, the latter intended more as a rigorous evaluation. Having (or not having!) a consensus on what the best coffees available are at any given moment is a valuable addition to the eternal discussions on quality and roast style.

Rasmus is developing a cupping form each of the participants will use when evaluating the domestic coffees. Simplified from the Cup of Excellence forms (the CoE is a group of national competitions that showcase and secure good premiums for the very best lots of coffee coming out of countries in Central- and Latin America), the KFU form is geared more towards a holistic evaluation of the coffee, where the interplay between the different aspects of a coffee are the focus of attention: agreeing on why a coffee is good, beyond its obvious but hard to pinpoint deliciousness.

Each flight of domestically roasted coffees is limited to a few origins (the first time was El Salvador and Honduras), to avoid colouring the evaluation by juxtaposing wildly different coffees.

After the domestic cupping the forms are handed in, anonymized and inspected to remove obvious outliers. The result is a list that is – as far as possible – an objective look at the coffees available to a consumer at the moment.

The first KFU was held Friday the 27th of January, and they are meant to be held on a monthly basis throughout 2012.

For more information about the KFU, check out the website, facebook or twitter @KaffensFgUtvalg. A ranking of the domestic coffees from El Salvador and Honduras is available in the writeup of the event (Norwegian).

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