April 8, 2014
Way back when “the coffee shop concept was very new and unexplored”, some of Tim Wendelboe’s customers knew more about coffee than he did. Fast forward 16 years and he’s one of the main reasons why “Oslo … is one of the best cities in the world if you want to get a great cup of coffee”.
I moved to Oslo when I was 19 years old, right after finishing school. My plan was to work in a bar for a year (to make tips and pick up girls), while trying to figure out if I wanted to go to University or what to study. Unfortunately, I was too young to get a job in a bar, but after a lot of searching I finally got a job in a coffee shop called Stockfleth’s. At that time (1998) I did not drink coffee, and the coffee shop concept was very new and unexplored. I quickly fell in love with making coffee to the “Osloanians”, and realized that a lot of our guests had been traveling and knew a lot more about coffee than I did. I started riding my scooter from coffee shop to coffee shop, to sit down and watch what my competitors were doing in order to learn more about my craft.
After some months, I competed in my first barista competition. Although I didn’t do all that well, I had finally found something that I really enjoyed doing. I decided I wanted to reach the top, and started preparing for my next competition. A year later in 2000, I came second in the Norwegian Barista Competition. And later that year, Robert Thoresen, owner of the coffee shop Java, became the first ever world barista champion, in Monte Carlo where the first World Barista Championships was held. The world competition based its format on the Norwegian competition model, mostly because there was a big group of Norwegians volunteering to make the first world championships happen.
After Robert’s victory, the whole world turned their eyes towards Oslo, and ever since, Oslo has been looked upon as one of the leading cities in the coffee industry. Although there has been a lot of changes since 2000, Oslo still is one of the best cities in the world if you want to get a great cup of coffee. With coffee shops like Java, Mocca, Supreme Roastworks, Stockfleths, Solberg & Hansen, Fuglen and my own shop called Tim Wendelboe, there is plenty of diversity in both design and coffee experiences within a very small city. That is part of what makes Oslo so unique, and why we see thousands of “coffee tourists” visit every year.
It is also the reason why I decided not to move to Copenhagen back in 2006, when I was planning to open my own coffee shop and roastery. Although Copenhagen is a bigger city, and had an untouched market back in 2006, I wanted to be where the best roasters and coffee shops were. I wanted the hard competition in order to push myself to become better. That is why I ended up staying here in Oslo.
I have now lived in Oslo for the last 15 years. Even though I still dream about moving to more exotic places like New York, Copenhagen or Colombia, I have realized that Oslo is my home and my playground. It is a fantastic place to work. Partly because you have nature close by, where you can relax and get inspiration and energy, but also because it’s so small and well-organized. Oslo has the order I need to be productive after many long travels to more chaotic countries where I buy the coffee for my store.
One of the best parts of living here is that everything is quite near and accessible. Whether it is delicious food in good restaurants, the best coffee in the world, quiet days on a boat in the fjord, or long tracks for cross country skiing in the forests and mountains. Oslo has it all.