Audun Sørbotten was a very successful roaster from Lillehammer, Norway, when love struck and he moved to his wife’s native Poland. He opened a small roastery in Bydgoszcz where locals favored a dark roast robusta with warm water poured over it.
Stubbornly he decided to change these habits by introducing quality light-roast washed arabicas mainly from East Africa, Central America and Brazil. He soon discovered he was in unchartered coffee territory and at the bottom of a steep learning curve. Mastering the roaster was easy but establishing a reliable green coffee supply and convincing consumers who spoke a language he had yet to learn was more challenging—all the while looking after a new family. In late 2014 he was selling a humble 35 kilos a week, but every bean was roasted the way he thought both the green coffee and consumers deserved.
Then came the tipping point. Sørbotten won the 2015 World Coffee Roasting Championship and orders soon came tumbling in, not just from Poland but from Taiwan and places he did not even know existed. Volume increased to a ton per month.
He now buys green coffee by the pallet. His favorites are from farms in Kenya, Honduras, Colombia and Brazil. Customers locally have improved their brewing skills and adapted to his coffee. Most demand high-end espressos but he is still trying to convince consumers to try filter coffee.
That tide may be hard to turn, but he is working on it., and his head is well above the tide.
— Alf Kramer