Your Favourite Coffee Memory: Olav Løkken Reisop, Norway

Your Favourite Coffee Memory: Olav Løkken Reisop, Norway

By Chris Kolbu

Our fourth winner is Olav Løkken Reisop of Oslo, who won a Wilfa Malt grinder. Olav is a published author, and his favourite coffee memory is a very evocative story of how he came around to enjoying coffee, a journey we’re sure many of you have also taken.

There was a time when I didn’t enjoy coffee. Despite the promise of its aroma, inviting and full of associations, and even despite the constant temptations of its faithful companion – something sweet – the foul bitterness was something I would never be able to swill, much less enjoy drinking. Or so I thought.

We – mum, dad, nana and I – had been at our cabin in the mountains for more than a week, with every single meal bookended by the same question, three different ways, from each and every one of them: Would you like a cup of coffee? Are you absolutely sure you don’t want a cup? Half a cup, then?

To dad, immersion brewing was the only way to do it. But even this method could be subdivided into many different “schools”. From what I gathered, it mostly revolved around the temperature and boiling. My dad eagerly explained that, normally, if the water was allowed to reach a boil, the temperature would so high as to become detrimental to the coffee. However, up in the mountains, things were different: at this altitude, the water reached a boil at 90-odd degrees, which was ideal.

I couldn’t see how any of this mattered. I assumed it would be the same bitter dreck it always was. That my parents – not to mention my nana, who was never without a cup of coffee shaking in her hands – were unable to go a single day without this vile brew was incomprehensible to me. Still, they never stopped proselytizing, my nana especially: rosehip, blackcurrants and gooseberries were only a few of the descriptors she would use – a range of flavours and aromas drawn from her own garden – that I couldn’t fathom had anything to do with … coffee.

Gnarled, knotted and frail, driven by a burning desire for me to join the enthusiastic ranks of coffee drinking folk, she told me of how landowners, common folk – her included, politicians and captains of industry fuelled the fires of their endeavours, be it night or day, using coffee. Even though I didn’t yet know who they were or what they represented, I felt as if this was a fellowship it would be fitting to join; I resolved, then, to give coffee another try.

In the kitchen, nana let out a joyful yelp. She went to work immediately, filling the pot with fresh mountain water, turning the gas on, repeatedly clicking the ignition until the gas took on the shape of a circular blue flame, finally setting the pot down. We waited. To nana, the wait seemed like torture, but at last the water boiled. She added six measuring spoons of coarsely ground coffee, let the water barely reach a boil again, turned the gas off, and triumphantly carried the coffee pot into the living room, my mother in tow holding four cups.

It didn’t change my mind immediately, but there was improvement. It was something else, much richer, much more complex than I had tasted earlier: this would do. With every day there was a gradual improvement, and after a week it already seemed preposterous to me that I had not enjoyed this earlier. A day without coffee was becoming an increasingly uncomfortable proposition. Thanks to immersion brewing, fresh mountain water, thin air and loving pressure from my family, I had joined the fellowship of coffee drinkers.

What are your views on the Nordic coffee culture?
For a while, when the outlook was dark and our beans darker still, with steamed milk overflowing onto our sidewalks, I felt Nordic coffee culture as having been pushed aside. However, the waves of milk subsided, and the refreshing, Nordic taste of coffee – coffee that tastes like coffee – is coming back in a big way.

What kind of coffee do you prefer?
I mostly buy my coffee from Tim Wendelboe, but Kaffa also has a lot of good coffee. I am particularly fond of Kenyan coffee; the Tekangu Coop coffee is my current favourite, probably mostly because of its fruitiness – perfect after breakfast! Tim’s Brazilian Fazenda coffee is also in heavy rotation, after dinner and as the evening goes on.

How do you brew your coffee?
For day to day brewing, I swear by the Aeropress. I find it a “safe” and reliable brewing method.

How important is coffee to you?
How important? Vital. Without coffee I wouldn’t have the fortitude to get anything done, including getting out of bed in the morning.

When do you normally drink coffee?
All day. After every meal. Between meals. However, breakfast and evening coffees taste the best; the first because it has been so long since the first cup; the second because it feels verboten, what with coffee that late at night ostensibly disturbing sleep.

Thank you!

The top photograph is taken by Mia Frogner, and the cabin photograph by Ola Matsson.

Nordic Coffee Culture
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