There is a lot of hard work, history and knowledge behind a good cup of specialty coffee. In our concept store at Mathallen, we work every day to make this cup better.

Mathallen is a mecca for the quality-conscious. Here you'll find rare delicacies, sweet pastries and exciting cheeses in perfect harmony; simply everything a gourmet could wish for. But did you know that Mathallen also houses a knowledge center for specialty coffee and tea from around the world? Welcome to the Solberg & Hansen concept store!

- A concept store at Mathallen is really the perfect solution for us as a coffee supplier. It gives us an opportunity to reach out to consumers without being a direct competitor to the cafés that carry our products. Here, product, process and knowledge are at the center, which is why we only sell black coffee.

Linn Victoria Andersen is the general manager of the concept store at Mathallen. She is passionate about specialty coffee and is always on the hunt for the perfect cup. She is happy to share her findings with customers who visit the store

- "Most of the people who visit us are curious and interested in coffee, so it's fitting that it takes four minutes to brew a perfect cup," says Linn with a smile.

And Linn makes good use of those four minutes. She talks about the origins of coffee, different brewing methods and the process from bean to finished cup. The perfect cup of coffee requires both love and care, and this is important for the concept store's employees to convey.

Coffee knowledge for the people

One of the concept store's most important roles is to spread knowledge about specialty coffee, which of course takes longer than the four minutes it takes to brew a cup. The concept store therefore organizes several courses for individuals and companies interested in coffee who want to learn more about coffee.

- "We offer basic courses for beginners, but also more advanced courses for coffee nerds. We have everything from groups of friends who want to learn how to hand-brew to companies that want to gain a deeper understanding of specialty coffee," says Linn.

"From bean to cup"

The concept store's most popular course is called "From bean to cup". The course aims to give participants a basic but thorough introduction to specialty coffee, so they can better understand the treasure inside each bean.

- By tasting their way through the coffee belt, participants gain a better understanding of why different beans taste the way they do, how preparation affects taste and what to expect from different types of coffee.

A never-ending learning curve

In order to be the resource company that Solberg & Hansen wants to be, it is essential that our employees stay up to date at all times. The specialty coffee industry is very dynamic, and no one is fully trained.

- You have to constantly try and fail to get better. There are a lot of new things happening in processing methods at the moment. For example, Kenyan beans are suddenly being grown in Costa Rica, which means that we suddenly have a whole new type of bean to deal with. We think that's fun!

Testing the senses

One of the most important things for the employees at the concept store is to develop the senses of taste and smell. Neither coffee nor tea is flavored, so describing taste can be very complex. Linn talks enthusiastically about how they keep their senses sharp:

- We spend a lot of time putting into words what coffee and tea actually taste like so that we can better understand the products. One way of doing this is through flavor cupping. For example, we cut up fruit and vegetables and put them in a jar of water that we leave in the fridge for two days. Then we cup the water without knowing what has been in it," says Linn.

Knowledge at all levels

For Solberg & Hansen, it is important that the entire company has a wealth of knowledge about everything from product to process. Each month therefore has a different knowledge focus. One month may focus on roasting coffee, while the next may focus on tea.

- I particularly remember that we focused on trade from Kenya for a month. Among other things, the purchasing group gave presentations on how trade takes place in Kenya. I found it incredibly educational to be able to understand how the raw material I work with every day had ended up in my coffee grinder.

However, it's not just coffee that's important to Solberg & Hansen, despite the fact that coffee is the most frequently mentioned.

- Another month, we may suddenly focus on tea. There's often a lot of focus on coffee, so it's easy to be surprised by how complex tea really is. I still have a lot to learn, but I like that," Linn concludes.