Recently, I reposted an interview I did with Klaus Thomsen, previous World Barista Champion and co-founder of the Coffee Collective. Since then I’ve been out there and experienced their coffee first-hand. The Coffee Collective have three locations: Jægersbrogade, Torvehallerne and Godthåbsvej, and supply coffee roasted in the latter property to a number of locations in Denmark and Sweden. I visited all three.
This was the Coffee Collective’s first shop, and the first roaster is here too. The set up is a bit bizarre to start with: no bar. This means there’s no barrier between you and the barista. In some ways, this is a great idea as it improves accessibility and makes the coffee brewing supertransparent. If you choose to, you can stand and watch your aeropress being prepared. It also feels slightly unusual to not have the traditional boundary between server and customer that a bar brings, though I imagine it helps to make best use of the space. Jægersbrogade is in the middle of the up-and-coming Nørrebro area, a mix of arty types and cheap rents makes it the Hoxton of Copenhagen.
For coffee, I tried the Esmerelda two ways. The Esmerelda is a limited run coffee, often cited as ‘the best in the world’ – which is rubbish – but it is a very nice coffee. It was available in Aeropress and Espro-press. The espro-press is a type of french press that has a metal mesh in it for enhanced filtration, avoiding much of the nasty sludge that cafetieres are prone to getting. The Esmerelda as produced by Coffee Collective is very tasty, and really different from the Tim Wendelboe variant of the same coffee, but still maintains the clean qualities of the coffee. I wasn’t able to taste the differences between the espro-press and aeropress versions, so I did wonder why it was on the menu in both forms, but maybe someone else could taste something I couldn’t.
The Coffee Collective’s most central location is in Torvehallerne; an indoor market somewhat akin to Borough market in London, but more sheened and less rugged. It’s worth going here even if it didn’t have a great coffee shop. Fortunately, it has another Coffee Collective outlet, which is a bar decked out with a series of kalita pourovers and a custom-made espresso machine. Behind the bar is a world map that outlines where each of the coffees they are brewing can be found. Superb idea, and develops the theme of transparency that the Coffee Collective holds dear, especially with regards to its relations with farmers in coffee-producing countries.
Here has a limited amount of coffees, presumably to simplify matters for the baristas at Coffee Collective’s busiest location. But the quality is maintained, even in this atmosphere, and I found that the engagement was good for what is arguably the closest to the ‘fast food’ model of coffee preparation of all Coffee Collective’s outlets. Torvehallarne is, without doubt, the easiest to get to what tourists and a great place to go for a morning of wandering around taking a look at Denmark’s food offerings.
This is the newest of the Coffee Collective’s locations and houses the roastery, as well as more space for offices (?) etc. It possibly wins the award for longest bar:stuff ratio with a really minimalistic attitude towards coffee equipment. Despite this, a selection of brewing equipment, a Strada espresso machine and a Marco uber boiler shows that Godthåbsvej really means business. It also has the largest selection of coffees, with some you won’t find in the other shops. I tried four, which will be simplified into the following format:
Kieni – Kenya – Aeropress. A rare mix of sugariness and fruity acidity. Both a beautiful example of a Kenyan coffee and also an individual mix of its own. The coffee the staff seemed most enthused over.
Yukro – Ethiopia – Aeropress. A very subtle kind of sweetness, with a good mouthfeel, but not as interesting as the Kenyans.
Finca Vista Hermosa – Guatemala – Espropress. A well-rounded cup, a little spice, a little brightness and a chocolatey aftertaste. I think the espropress suited this coffee, though being unfamiliar with the brew method, I’d like to experiment more.
Gichathaini – Kenya – Kalita. Poetry in a cup. Like drinking parma violets, with a touch of acidity and a silky mouthfeel.
If you’re not sure what to get, they do a cupping experience for 100kr (£10), in which you get talked through all the coffees with the barista. The barista will, regardless, bring the coffee to your table and tell you the story of where the coffee has come from. This is a great touch that I would have enjoyed in Jægersbrogade too. I heard the Godthåbsvej shop described as ‘intimidating’ in its size, which I can understand, but it also conveys the seriousness of what it’s doing. There is a glass wall separating customers from the roastery, which enhances the transparency. Clearly a lot of thought has been put into space here, and it has had fewer constraints than the other two shops. It’s a bit out of the way in Frederiksberg, but a bus stop serves it and F’berg is a lovely area of town to spend the day.
The Coffee Collective