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Kaffikaze Woman

It’s not just caffeine that can give you more adrenaline than skydiving, working with coffee can also have the same effect. Just ask Ingri M. Johnsen, co-founder of Kaffikaze and organizer of Oslo’s first ever coffee festival. Just a few days before the inaugural event, we sat down to check her pulse.

You’re such a familiar face in the Oslo coffee scene, can you please tell us about how that came to be?
Could it have anything to do with my selfie pushing? I’ve been working with specialty coffee in Oslo for almost a decade, and mostly with marketing. I haven’t been shy either. Even though I’ve had office work, I’ve competed in all the fun competitions like Barista, Brewers, Cup Tasting, Aeropress, Barista League and also Coffee Roasting, and those are good places to get to meet people.

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It might absolutely be because of selfie pushing, but I also think it’s because you’re so passionate about and good at, what you do. There’s been a debate about women in coffee rolling for the last couple of years, do you think being a woman have meant you’ve had to push harder to be noticed?
I’ve never really thought of that as a topic because I can’t change that. Back in the old days, I used to worry. At some point I learned that I have good enough skills, I am intelligent enough and my skirt length has nothing to do with that. My life has been much better after I decided to care more about what I want to do – and what I think is best.

What is it about working creatively with coffee that fascinates you?
I don’t know if I would call it fascinating. It’s nerve-wracking and difficult. There are impossible deadlines and always low marketing budgets. You have to figure out how peoples’ brains work, and that’s a never-ending story. What I like about it is making it through the projects, and come out alive after all that goes into it. It’s challenging. Overcoming that gives me a sense of purpose. Also doing things for fun. That gives me more adrenaline than skydiving.

Apart from working with coffee, how does coffee influence your daily life? What are your coffee rituals?
I start my day with coffee like 83 % of other adults in the country. My coffee station might be a bit extreme to other people, but that’s priority. I usually drink a lot of coffee before I leave the house, which is why I don’t drink that much coffee at coffee bars – and then feel bad about it.

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When you do go to coffee bars, which are your favorites to visit? And how would you classify the “coffee family” in Oslo?
Lately, I’ve been having a lot of meetings and work sessions at Brugata Landhandleri and Hendrix Ibsen. They are both very good places for that. I also love Stockfleths in Gamlebyen, which is across the street from my house. They also help me out with collecting packages for the festival, and I go there sometimes to ask for a plastic bag with ice – their Ice cube machine is great. I mostly go out to coffee bars to meet friends, do a work session, or I have an espresso and a cappuccino at the bar before running to catch the bus.

The “coffee family” in Oslo all seem to be very excited about the coffee festival. Who would have thought we could get all these companies together like this? We are all very keen to find out what it’s going to be like. If we succeed to attract normal coffee drinkers that will be great. We will give them an entertaining and flavor-rich day in the name of delicious, high-quality coffee.

You grew up in the Northern part of coffee, how is the coffee culture different there – and has it influenced you in any way? Also, do you remember your first encounter with coffee?
I can’t answer this seriously as I started thinking about puns around that part where you said “coffee” instead of “Norway”. As a coffee extremist, I understand deeply what it is like to think that hard about coffee all the time.

Haha, true that. And that also brings us quite naturally onto my next question… The “Swedish penis pump” posters for the Oslo Aeropress Championships quickly became a talking point – and understandably so. Can you please tell us about the reactions and the idea behind it?
We thought we maxed it last year with the Satan theme. There was a naked woman with a goat’s head in front of an upside down pentagram. And that was just the poster. Check #aerosatan or #aeropress666 event tags for more, and imagine playing True Norwegian Black Metal all night. We obviously didn’t think this would become a big thing. It’s not even referring to an actual penis. It’s a plastic pump made in Sweden, and it’s a movie reference from Austin Powers. What do you think about it?

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Personally, I think it’s super fun – and I love the humor and edge that goes into the Aeropress Championships. How do you manage to come up with all these different ideas?
Many of our concepts are initially pitched by Lars Huse, co-founder and the artist behind all our illustrations. He’s been talking about this Austin Powers thing for years. We all debate concepts and develop ideas together. The upside to owning our own company is having artistic freedom. We have previously had great partners and sponsors and attracted a good crowd and vibe, so they like the concepts too.

The Aeropress Championship is a part of the larger inaugural Kaffikaze Coffee Festival? Why do you think Oslo hasn’t had a coffee festival before, and what triggered you to start one?
That exact thing, there was no festival. We have already done The Norwegian Aeropress Championship three years now, and it sounded like a fun project for us to do. Oslo is world famous as a coffee destination, and we wanted to bring everybody together to show what like of black gold we have in this country. We have roasteries coming in from all over Norway, like Jacu from Ålesund, Langøra from Stjørdal and Jacobsen & Svart from Trondheim.

What are you looking forward to the most during the festival?
Seeing it become a reality. It’s the first time we’re planning anything like this, and I have an extreme focus on just making it happen at this point, two days before the event. My brain IS the coffee festival at this point.

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I can imagine you needing a rest after the festival is over, considering all the hours you’ve put into it. How do you plan to relax? And how do you find time within your hectic schedule to take small timeouts for yourself?
I hope I get the chance to have some time for a massage next week in Poland. I have a two-hour branding lecture at the Roaster Camp in Poznan, and I am getting to catch a lot of great lectures there. And after that, I might get to go to Copenhagen for a dinner at Manfreds with my bestie and colleague, Lauren Pine. She has been with me every day and night working on the festival for weeks now, and we keep each other from going nuts. It’s a bit nutty what we’ve planned here. So, don’t miss out on this diamond speckled opportunity for tastegasms and caffeine overdose.