Here at Curated Brew, we're determined to bring our members amazing coffee; fairly traded and roasted by some of the best in the business. That's why, for our second coffee box, we're proud to be showcasing Talor&Jørgen, one of the most exciting new roasters on the block.
I had the chance to meet the dynamic duo behind the brand in March, when Talor visited London to choose some new coffees from Mercanta, and give a talk on the relevance of quality in coffee. Talor was kind enough to invite me along to a cupping session at Mercanta, where we chose this month's main coffee.
While we had the chance to chat a little about Talor's experience in coffee to date, and about the ethos behind Talor&Jørgen, I had a few more questions. This article is the fruit of our subsequent conversation by email, and marks the first of our monthly roaster Q&As.
Talor&Jørgen are taking a different approach to roasting coffee than most "specialty" coffee roasters. Can you tell us about your philosophy?
Jørgen and I had the amazing opportunity to spend over a year slowly bringing our coffee roastery together. Having long, drawn out conversations where we were able to get to the very core of what we were hoping to do. And when you boil it down, it's pretty simple: We want to have fun, be kind and make delicious things accessible and convenient for everyone.
Up until this point, the specialty industry has been attempting to get the world to take it seriously by behaving as a luxury product. We’re convincing customers to change their drinking habits and producers to invest in infrastructure to expand upon a market that we created. This has polarised consumers and left a lot of people either embracing the idea or shunning it entirely. But coffee, especially in Norway is a social glue and is a lot less black and white than many believe.
We want to take our collective 25+ years experience in this industry and approach things from a different perspective. Coffee quality is incredibly subjective for the drinker and we believe that there is a lot of opportunity to affect greater change by harnessing these pre-existing preferences rather than catering to a crowd that only prefers certain types of coffee.
That means that we are going to purchase and roast varying degrees of “quality” coffee and funnel the differing levels to their respective consumer base. One third of coffee drinkers in Europe prefer the taste of roasted coffee, we think that allows us to support producers that don’t have the capacity to produce coffee that scores above 80. We will also be sourcing and roasting the higher quality coffees typically associated with specialty because that allows us to explore the full spectrum of what is produced.
This allows us to make commitments and long term relationships with producers without the negative consequences of cherry picking for quality lots and also allows us to appeal to a section of the population whose taste preferences have up until now, been ignored.
We provide a wide variety of coffee from all over the world, roasted the way you like it and sent to you door without the bullshit.
Talor&Jørgen has received exceptional coverage on your approach to packaging. You've also started to generate a following though Jørgen's work on the Youtube channel. How important is brand, and storytelling in coffee?
When we first began jotting down ideas for our packaging, the main driver was that we wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, as coffee packaging has been incredibly static since the inception of specialty.
We approached a tonne of design firms but were so happy to end up working with Bielke&Yang based here in Oslo. They helped us flesh out the concept almost from the beginning.
We wanted our packaging to be tough and sturdy enough to travel through the post without creating extra waste but also be memorable and communicate effectively for us. At this point in time, we’re lacking a physical store here in Oslo, so we wanted the product to be able to do a lot of the talking for us. We wanted those that receive our coffee to open their mail boxes and be greeted with something colourful that emulated the joy of getting an unexpected package in the post. Almost to emulate the feeling of unwrapping a Christmas gift. Unfortunately due to human nature, bias and lived experience, coffee quality simply cannot speak for itself, so, we wanted to be able to set our customers expectations about our skill level as professionals, the quality level of the coffee and the unpretentious way we approach
The YouTube channel and our various other social media help us to expand upon that base. We believe that without an understanding or any background of an unknown, a product has so much less meaning to a person. By sharing and being as transparent as possible, we’re hoping that our customers will be able to have a deeper understanding of us, the coffee and how we do things. That way they can choose the kinds of companies they want to support by having the full picture. Story telling creates emotional connection and we are trying to make people feel and enjoy.
Knowledge and understanding is powerful.
At your recent talk at Prufrock in London, you spoke of the need to have scale to affect change. What do you think "scale" means for a business like Talor&Jørgen?
Talor&Jørgen is a coffee roastery but I also make doughnuts under a second name, Fryd (it means “joy” in Norwegian). The popularity of Fryd has absolutely exploded here in Oslo and because doughnuts and coffee are so complimentary, we want to use the doughnuts to be able to scale the roastery. Specialty coffee alone only appeals to a certain market but doughnuts are for everyone. Ideally, we will have multiple shops in Scandinavia, but we’ll have to see how the first store goes.
We also want to be able to increase the capacity for our memberships to a point where we can have our own distribution channels. At this point in time we offer a service that is slightly different to a subscription service. Rather than working around the schedule of the subscription, we aim to operate on the schedule of the member. The more members join, the more they dictate the kinds of coffee we purchase and the larger we can grow.
When we talk about scale, the ultimate goal is to increase the amount of green coffee we purchase to the point where we can approach a producer, enter into a long term contract and be buying the entirety of their harvest, continuously and regardless of quality. This means container loads of green from certain origins. That way we can match particular types of coffee from the one producer to the right consumer and everyone is happy.
As you look forward to opening a store in Oslo later this year, to what degree is company culture a consideration, and what's your vision for Talor&Jørgen in this respect?
Jørgen and I have spent an enormous amount of time discussing and debating the kind of company culture we want to build, mainly because of our collective experiences from previous workplaces. We want to build a company that allows for people wanting to grow, learn and develop their career in coffee with us. We want our employees to feel nurtured, safe and welcome to be themselves at work and in our team. We recently hired our first employee and were so happy to see how many of the candidates reflected our beliefs and wanted to join our team because of that.
Can you tell us a little about the coffee we've selected for Curated Brew's members this month?
We were invited to London by Mercanta Coffee Merchants to cup their current offerings and I thought it was a great opportunity to find a coffee for Curated Brew with you, rather than have us select something here in Oslo without your input.
There were a lot of really brilliant coffees on the table but this coffee from Rwanda really stood out to me and I especially wanted to share it after discovering it came from the Musasa cooperative, as I have worked with this coffee a lot in the past with Market Lane Coffee in Melbourne.
Rwandan coffees have a brilliant profile. They share many of the rich, stone fruit qualities of Kenyan coffees and a lot of the herbal, zesty nature of Burundian coffees. Also, as we haven't showcased any Rwandan coffees through the roastery yet, I thought it was another brilliant opportunity to explore this region.
It is a super juicy cup with a firm nectarine, stone fruit body and a zesty, lime like sparkling finish. Its fairly heavy bodied with subtle hints of earth but very clean and crisp.