Koppi Coffee, Helsingborg's favourite place to fika.
Koppi, the must visit coffee shop in Helsingborg, that has reached institutional status in six short years by being committed to coffee diversity and providing a product that is intriguingly unique. Breaking free from Sweden’s long established coffee traditions and roasting their own beans onsite at their Norra Storgatan store, owners Anne Lunell & Charles Nystrand are taking their own path towards the perfect coffee experience.
You have really changed this city, a coffee city from way back, by doing something different with your flavours, and encouraging people to try new things. Was this your intention from the start?
Charles: Yeah it is cool, and sometimes you forget about it because you are so in it, but I think in the beginning when we opened we were really hard-core because we did exactly what we wanted to do and we roasted so much lighter than everyone else. When people tried our coffee for the first time, they either got and it thought that it was interesting, because we didn’t have anything like it in Sweden at the time, or they hated it and never came back! A lot of these guys who are hear now (guests in the store) have been coming here since when they were still at school and now they are a bit older and it is our coffee’s individuality which they have grown up with and so this is normal for them.
So many people come here and get to know other people because they are regulars. We have the bar, which for us was really critical, I mean there is nowhere else in Helsingborg where you can drink a coffee at a counter bar and it encourages customers talk to each other and to us, which leads to everyone becoming friends. One thing that makes me happy is that I think that for many people who come here, we are a pretty big part of their everyday life, which is pretty cool I think.
What are the elements of making the perfect cup of coffee?
Anne: Good coffee!
C: Every step needs to be really good, so that the coffee is not good just by chance. From the producer paying a lot of attention to details, focusing on quality to putting a lot of care and love into their plants.
What do you see as perfect flavour notes in coffee? What are you looking for when you source new beans and flavours?
A: I can really appreciate a light and vibrant coffee that is floral and has nice tropical fruit notes, but I can also enjoy a chocolate, sweet coffee, so for me at least it is more about the quality of the actual coffee.
C: But there are flavours we like more than others, we really like light and clean flavours with a transparency but we are also really into high acidity coffees- ones that are delicate and not too heavy.
Tell us about where you source your beans, how do you decide on a location and farm?
A: Through networking and past contacts we found our producers, and then from there we’ve met other local producers. The first year we only bought from Panama, then the year after I went to Costa Rica and in February I went to Kenya and Ethiopia for the first time.
You said you go on yearly visits to farms - are you always looking for new producers?
C: We buy from 5 different farms and we want to work with them closely year after year and build a relationship with the farmers, which is important for us. We want them to know that if they do a good job, we will buy their product and not be so influenced by market trends, which they really appreciate. The thing is, if there wasn't roasters like us who want quality and the best coffee in the world, they wouldn't be producing such good coffee…we want to buy what we think is best and pay whatever it costs.
How have you seen the coffee growing industry change over the past 10 or so years?
A: Yeah, recently when I was in Ethiopia they have setup projects to help farmers to maximise their production in quality and yield, which helps farmers improve their livelihood. But also changes as basic as farmers tasting their own coffee, a lot of producers have no chance to do it because they haven’t had a roaster at the farm or the equipment to grind the coffee. But I think it’s changing pretty fast, at least in some countries, like in Costa Rica and Panama.
Your coffee has been generating a lot of hype of late, tell us about the awards you have won and competitions you have been involved in.
A: The Swedish culinary guide Whiteguide awarded us 'Best Coffee Bar in Sweden,' which was nice that someone acknowledges and appreciates what we have been doing although we’ve just been doing what we have always done. The award has helped us to supply to some really good restaurants that are now getting a lot of attention. We deliver our coffee all over the world, to Poland, UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany and hopefully soon the US.
Have you seen a big change in people coming into the store after these awards?
A: Yeah, a lot of new customers, which is exciting, normally we have so many regulars, they might be here everyday or just in Helsingborg for holidays but they will come in everyday of that two weeks.
Do you think after the award there has been a space created for dialogue between you and the customers in regard to the process and production?
A: Yeah, it is definitely an open invitation to come and learn a bit more about coffee! Which is good because that has always been the struggle in the past, this being such a young business, the specialty coffee business, in this part of the world people are so bound to traditions.
How do you see Koppi fitting within the Swedish coffee scene?
A: I think we have done a fair job of trying to change what the market looks like, our network is pretty wide internationally and we are really looking to what is happening outside of Sweden, taking the parts we like and applying them to Koppi. We are trying not to compromise. Some companies are trying to….
C: Crowd please…
A: And we are just trying to please ourselves!
If you could dream in 10 years what Koppi would be doing what do you see?
A: Just to grow more, and to get a real stability, and to travel a lot more…
C: …and find people to work with who share our passion.
A: I am pretty happy with where we are now too though, I mean in six years we’ve come pretty far and created a pretty nice little coffee company!