What is Nordic Style Coffee?
Coffee is a global trade, and there are many different ways to source, roast, and brew that reflect regional differences in taste and process. Here at MCC, we do what's often called "Nordic style coffee" so we figured we should explain what that is and why we do it.
The basic tenet of Nordic style coffee is to highlight the unique, bright flavors of high-quality single-origin coffee beans. A cup of Nordic style coffee should be sweet and vibrant, emphasizing fruit-forward tones and acidity with no "roasty" flavors.
Similar to the concept of "terroir" in wine-making, the thinking is that producers around the world are putting incredible effort into producing unique, high quality coffees, and that should be reflected in the end cup. Where some styles of coffee seek out high-volume, lower-grade beans that can be stored almost indefinitely and blended to create coffees that taste consistent (but bland) year-round - Nordic style coffee encourages buying smaller lots of high-quality coffees and enjoying the differences in flavor between lots and origins.
The Nordic style extends to roasting as well. In general, the darker a coffee is roasted, the more you'll taste generic "roasty" tones in the brew that cover up more sweet, bright, acidic notes. Nordic style roasts tend to be hot, fast, and light to eliminate any bitter, "roasty" flavors in the end cup and let those bright, sweet flavors shine. The spectrum of "light to dark" in roasting varies widely depending on who you're talking to - but Nordic style roasts tend to be on the lighter end of even what's called "light roast coffee".
This means you really need to use high-quality green coffee in the Nordic style - otherwise any flaws or defects that would be covered up by a darker roast will be evident in the final brew. (As an aside - this is why you might notice some roasters doing light roasts on their single-origins, but darker roasts with their cheaper blends. A darker roast can cover up any of the flavors that make the coffee cheaper - while lighter roasts let the higher quality coffee speak for itself).
Finally, Nordic style coffee has an emphasis on transparency and traceability. Early proponents of Nordic style coffee like Tim Wendelboe and Andreas Hertzberg recognized the value in high quality single-origin coffee, and started to build relationships with farms that produce incredible coffee, pay premium prices to secure those lots, and tell the story of the coffees when roasting and selling them. This gives the end brewer a complete picture of just what makes their coffee special, and some confidence that everyone along the way is being treated fairly.
Combined all together, we think Nordic style coffee is a great way to go about things. The Nordic style results in delicious coffees that take advantage of seasonality and locality, highlighting expert producers and what makes their coffees unique along the way.