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Going Back To Basics

Since opening its doors in 2011, MAAEMO, Norway’s only two-starred Michelin restaurant, has served their end-of-the-meal coffee in a way that almost became iconic. This has just changed.

The coffee service at Maaemo used to be a show that took elements from the Norwegian fauna, combining it with the traditional way of making coffee in a pot. A serving tray dressed like a piece of forest, fir branches and all, was equipped with a gas burner and a pot, in which the waiter would boil water and make coffee tableside. The diner could watch it all unfold while breathing in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

This way of serving coffee became something of a Maaemo trademark, but at the end of the day, the taste and flavour of the coffee didn’t live up to head chef and co-owner Esben Holmboe Bang’s standards. The result could turn rather inconsistent.

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Fast-forward to today, and coffee is served in a carafe at the table, only accompanied by a few petit fours. The theatrics are gone.

The glassware, or ceramics to be precise, is handmade by Anne Udnes exclusively for Maaemo. She is also the designer behind the iconic plates that serve as a canvas for the spectacular dishes coming out of the upstairs kitchen. The new coffee cups are small enough for you to grab around with one hand, which is the way Esben likes to hold his cups. The tulip-shape also brings out the aroma of the coffee to its fullest potential.

So, now that the coffee is not prepared tableside, how is it made? With special attention to detail, the coffee is brewed in the back by restaurant staff. In true essence of the restaurant’s philosophy, several rounds of tests were conducted before choosing the Wilfa Svart Presisjon coffee maker. Not only did it create as good of a result as a pour-over, but more importantly, it delivered consistent brews every single time. Being a two-starred restaurant, you need to deliver exceptional quality time and time again.

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The beans are sourced by Norway’s famous Tim Wendelboe coffee roastery, and every so often trained Tim Wendelboe staff come in to check the coffee settings, making sure that the coffee is always at its best.

Maaemo seeks complexity and balance in all their dishes, and now the same principles have been applied to their coffee service. Instead of the full-bodied and, in lack of a better word, dirty brew, they now serve delicate coffee, which suits the restaurant’s profile much better. The restaurant focuses on the clean, bright flavours of Norway, and even though the beans, quite naturally, aren’t from Norway – the roast profile is a hundred percent Norwegian.

It is safe to say that a majority of guests visiting Maaemo are flavour junkies, and getting the Maaemo experience is certainly not a cheap thrill. But it is indeed an experience, and the diner gets a whole lot more than just a meal for their buck. The coffee has always been a part of the overall experience, but focus used to circle around the presentation, rather than the coffee itself.

Now the coffee connoisseurs can experience the coffee in two different ways. In addition to the regular coffee cups, there’s also the option of a cup made with an oval-shaped opening. Drinking coffee from a cup with either a wide or narrow opening will actually change the way a coffee tastes. A wide opening will make the coffee hit your taste buds in the back of your mouth, it also enhances the acidity and gives it a lighter mouthfeel. A narrower opening will make the coffee taste sweeter and have a thicker mouthfeel.

The revived coffee service at Maaemo offers a much-deserved break from the show that has been going on around you since arrival. You will have time to reflect upon and appreciate what you have just experienced. It is a coffee break in its purest form.