Organic kokkaffe (boiled coffee) and what is means to both people and the planet.
An interview with Markus Lemke, one of the founders of Lemmelkaffe. By Amanda Matti.
Sweden’s been one of the world’s largest consumers of coffee ever since coffee first arrived in Sweden in the 17th century. Earlier this summer, we met up with Markus Lemke, one of the founders of Lemmelkaffe, at a glistening lake just outside of Gällivare. While we were waiting for the water to boil over the open fire, we talked about how important kokkaffe is to people, and how important lemmings are for the organic kokkaffe
Markus Lemke is a calm, down-to-earth kind of guy who, according to himself, has learnt how to communicate with lemmings. While getting a fire started by the lake, we talked about the history of coffee, and what made Markus so interested in kokkaffe. Pretty quickly I realized there’s a deeper meaning behind the brand Lemmelkaffe, that it’s about more than just coffee beans. It’s about history, life philosophy and sustainability.
Organic kokkaffe – a fresh take on an old concept
A hundred years ago nobody used the term kokkaffe (boiled coffee), and “organic” kokkaffe didn’t even exist. A hundred years ago, coffee was just coffee. Plain and simple. In those days, the only option they had was to boil their coffee on the stove, and “organic” coffee was just normal coffee.
Coffee beans were purchased whole in small amounts, and ground at home with a manual coffee grinder. You brought your pot of water to a boil on the stove, added the freshly ground coffee, brought it back to a boil, and let it steep. Making yourself a cup of coffee back then could easily take half an hour, if not more.
Nowadays we usually like to get our coffee fast. If the coffee machine at work takes a couple of seconds too long, it annoys us. Many restaurants even serve instant coffee; just pour it in and stir. Done in less than a minute. Fast coffee machines all over the country are churning out advanced coffee drinks like cappuccino, macchiato and caffè latte at an alarming speed. When Markus Lemke talks about coffee machines, his eyes darken.
Lemmelkaffe, a revival of the kokkaffe
The manual coffee grinder was eventually stowed away, ending up at flea markets together with the stove-top coffee pots that just weren’t being used anymore. Slowly, we forgot the tradition of boiling coffee on the stove or over an open fire. We forgot that a good cup of coffee takes time. That is, until Lemmelkaffe came along.
Lemmelkaffe have had a major impact on the Swedish coffee culture since they started. More and more people are saying no to instant coffee, and boiling your own coffee over an open fire has become somewhat of a trend. Markus tells us sustainable consumption is very important to Lemmelkaffe, and with the growing popularity of their kokkaffe, they decided to develop an organic version. A coffee that is both kind to the environment and to the people drinking it.
Organic coffee- better for us and better for the environment.
Organic products are products that are simply better for us and the environment. But producing organic products isn’t all that easy, and there’s a wide range of certifications out there that you can choose to associate your brand with.
After a whole year of research, Lemmelkaffe chose the Swedish KRAV label. KRAV have very high standards in regards to the way the product is manufactured, and the company as a whole.
Markus tells us Lemmelkaffe’s organic dark roast kokkaffe is made from 100% organically grown Arabica beans. The coffee beans are what we call slow growing, and they’re grown at family owned farms in Honduras and Peru. To keep pests out without using any artificial pesticides, the farmers spread chili and garlic on the plantations. The beans are handpicked, transported down with donkeys, peeled, washed, and dried, before being sent to Sweden.
When the beans arrive in Sweden they’re roasted slowly on a low heat, to get the best flavour possible. According to Markus, it’s the lemmings who do the roasting. They sleep with a coffee bean each close to their body and roast them with their own body heat. That’s why the organic kokkaffe tastes extra good.
Good produce without unnecessary additives, handled with time, love and care. Who could’ve known lemmings play such a big part in making a great cup of coffee?
We discuss the quality of the coffee beans and how people have forgotten about the coffee grinder, a once important item of everyday life.
Markus tells me in great detail about just how much better the coffee tastes when you grind the coffee beans yourself. And I can tell by the look in Markus’ eyes, that he hopes one day the coffee grinder will get a revival of its own. That people will give coffee the time it, and we, need and deserve.
As we finish our last cups of coffee, the fire’s almost burned out. There’s a small ripple in the lake, and the silence is like a soft blanket around us. “Goodbye, and thanks for the coffee”, I say, and start walking back home.
As I walk, the real meaning of Lemmelkaffe starts to sink in. I think about how a hundred years ago there was no such thing as organic coffee, and how happy I am that, thanks to Lemmelkaffe, there now is.
A good cup of coffee that’s good for both body and soul, while also being good for the environment.
Text and image by Amanda Matti @explorealittlemore