Monthly Musings: January, 2024

This month, discover Sweden’s most delicious (for my money, and Chef Magnus Nilsson may just agree) flatbread; the latest from Coffee Fest; and new interviews from Designing Coffee. I also take Tatler Magazine on a tour of the world’s best coffee shops.

Last month was one of quiet reflection. A few days before Christmas, we head to the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Within the embrace of Olympic National Park, diverse ecosystems interlace—lush rainforests, craggy coastlines, and snow-dusted peaks.

In a wood cabin nestled on the edges of a lake, we baked, sat by the fire, and consumed copious bottles of (very good) wine.

Throughout the year, it’s tough to find time to stray from professional reading, be it research, interview transcripts, or the latest news on coffee. But over the break, I delved into Voltaire’s Candide (a Christmas gift from a friend), a satirical novella critiquing philosophical optimism.

Voltaire, through his protagonist’s journey, challenges the notion that a perfect world exists, advocating for a pragmatic, down-to-earth approach to life rather than idealistic optimism. The other book I brought along, Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, surprisingly echoed similar themes. Both books question the idea of blindly adhering to positivity or the pursuit of an idealized life, instead advocating for a more realistic and practical approach to navigating life’s challenges. They both explore the notion that embracing imperfections, accepting life’s uncertainties, and focusing on what truly matters can lead to a more fulfilling existence.

And that’s what I’ll carry into 2024.

A few recipes from my travels around Europe – from the sweet and moist apfelkuchen, a German apple cake I discovered in the Black Forest, through to tunnbröd, a Swedish yeasted flatbread that varies in texture and ingredients, crafted from wheat, barley, oat, or rye.

Back in 2017, I was staying in a cabin in Åre, Sweden, in Jämtland County where Magnus Nilsson’s famed Fäviken was located. Nilsson had recently purchased a local charcuterie company, Undersåkers Charkuteriefabrik, and had opened a small gourmet Korvkiosk (hot dog stand) in town. Yes, Magnus Nilsson did hot dogs. They changed my mind on what a hot dog could be. Pickles, dill, mashed potato, and a range of traditional Swedish sausages – wrapped in a soft and pillowy tunnbröd.


These flatbreads are important childhood memories. When you fire up the wood-fired oven, the family will seize the opportunity to bake together.

I remember at my grandparents’ farm, vast quantities were made. When you are a kid, the first task for which you assume responsibility is to sweep the excess flour off the rolled-out cakes, an important task as excess flour will easily burn. The task reserved for the most seasoned veteran is the baking, often done by an older lady who has, over the years, gotten accustomed to the heat which can reach over 400.C/750.F degrees. In a very hot oven, the baking of a single bread takes 25–40 seconds.

Magnus Nilsson on tunnbröd, words from The Mind of a Chef

I interviewed branding studio Angel & Anchor about ice-cream-coffee combo Little Sister for, which revealed how they infused the Northern Ireland gem with vibrant colors and a vibe that’s pure joy.

Other new interviews include China’s Saturnbird Coffee with their cute mini instant cups and Northern Ireland’s retro Process Coffee with packaging that looks like VHS tapes.

Some other recent coffee reading and writing highlights:

I took Tatler Magazine on a tour of the world’s most beautiful and interesting coffee shops. Tatler is a British lifestyle magazine with a long history, dating back to 1709.

Valet Magazine listed my latest book, Designing Coffee, on their top gift list; while Stylist Magazine UK featured my home brewing set-up on their ‘how the pro’s do it’ coffee lovers gift list.

Heading to Roast Magazine’s Roast Summit in Portland next month? I’ll be there, repping Coffee Fest! Make sure to come and say hi!

In other Coffee Fest news: my new education program and schedule for our New York show are live on the website. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a *drum-roll* brand new merchandise line, keep your eye out!

Speaking of merch, last month I had the pleasure of meeting Laila Ghambari (2014 US Barista Champion) for coffee: she has launched her own consulting and content business. Pick up the latest edition of Barista Magazine to check out her new article on the importance of merchandise and retail (she headed up Stumptown’s retail division for many years).

Lastly, some great news for the coffee industry comes from one of my key partners, Cafe Imports, which is now a certified B-Corp AND has just launched its brand new education platform, ed+u.

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