An interview with Christopher Da Silva, co-founder of Artisan Coffee Store.
S:t Knuts is fast becoming the hub for all things artisan, and coffee is well represented. Along with popular local coffee shops Cafe No.6 and Uggla Kaffebar, Artisan Coffee Store looks to meet the growing demand for speciality coffee for the home. Christopher Da Silva was kind enough to make us some coffee and share his vision for Artisan.
What inspired you to open Artisan Coffee Store?
My business partner Mattias and I were initially thinking of starting a wine business, but decided that coffee is way more fun - and healthier. When we officially started Artisan in the summer of 2014, we were mainly selling other people’s quality coffee, but it didn’t take long before we thought we’d give roasting a try ourselves. In order to showcase our products, we decided to open a place at S:t Knuts in Malmö where we could meet people and talk about our coffee.
Why did you choose to open a coffee store at S:t Knuts?
I have lived in Malmö on and off for about nine years and I really like what’s going on in this city. When we first thought about opening a coffee store in Malmö, Mattias asked me where I thought we should get a place. I immediately said that S:t Knuts was the only place I’d consider and that ‘we either get a place here now, or we wait’. As it happened, we ended up getting this place within a couple of weeks. Different places in Malmö attract different crowds, but S:t Knuts is one of those places where you can be yourself; where people meet from different backgrounds to just hang out. I also saw this as a neighbourhood associated with quality, with places like Uggla, Spoonery, Saiko and Kiez. It’s possible to create something here where people appreciate high quality and a warm atmosphere.
What’s the story behind the ‘S:t Knuts’ coffee?
When we decided to open a coffee store at S:t Knuts, it was natural to name our first line of coffee after the area. It’s a fun name, it works internationally and it doesn’t have any negative associations. We’ve only been roasting for a couple of months, but it’s spreading fast. We’re already in a lot of retail stores and are represented at NK, which is regarded as the fanciest shopping mall in Sweden.
What is the great thing about your coffee?
We buy the highest quality of beans, called ‘speciality coffee’, which is the coffee that is graded the best in the world. We purchase high quality coffee from small producers, with a commerce that is socially, ecologically and economically viable. As a matter of fact, these small farmers don’t have the funds to be eco-certified, but still grow their beans biodynamically in high altitude and hand pick the beans themselves. It’s important that the coffee is traceable in order for us to be transparent. So it is kind of going ‘beyond eco’, and we are paying a lot more than the average price coffee, to make sure that they can produce the quality year after year. We know what we are serving, and we know that the taste comes from coffee picked by people who are equally committed to the process of harvesting the best quality beans. We then roast it to the best of our capacity in the philosophy that we have, in producing a full flavour without any bitterness or burnt taste. A lot of people perceive coffee to be that bitter taste they’ve been taught to drink, but coffee is so much more than that. With good quality beans, a light roast can achieve a very rich coffee without burning the taste. Coffee is also about freshness, so we roast our coffee in small batches every Monday. To roast micro batches is a key for what we’re doing. S:t Knuts coffee will always be fresh.
We’ve heard rumours that you’re doing a thing called ‘cupping’. What is that?
The concept is quite easy. That’s what you do when you’re in a producing country or when you’re buying green beans to test the quality. You have ground coffee in a cup, pour some water on it and then leave it for a while before taking away the crust that forms itself on the top. Then you slurp the coffee with a spoon that is slightly bigger than an egg spoon. The idea is to analyse the aromas and tastes. The vastness of aromas in coffee is enormous and it takes a long time to learn all the different layers, but it get easier the more you do it. It's the same principles as wine or beer tasting. You can cup a certain roastery, to try to understand the philosophy behind a certain line of coffee, or cup different rosteries to compare them. Cupping events here at Artisan will be announced on Facebook and Instagram, so stay tuned!
When is Artisan Coffee Store open?
I'll be making a flag to hang when I’m here for people to check when it’s open. That’s a thing that everyone does on this street. When the flag is up - it’s open, like it used to be in the old days. It’s a rare and very beautiful thing that is happening here, with so many small shops running in such a small area. It goes back to a saying that my Australian friend uses: ‘Vote with your dollar’, meaning that if you like quality, then buy it and support something that you believe in. By coincidence that friend is now the Swedish Barista Champion… Our concept is always evolving and with the return of the light we'll be more active and open.
What other place would you like to recommend here in Malmö?
I have to recommend Saltimporten Canteen. That is the best lunch place in Malmö, possibly in all of Sweden. Whenever I have international guests arriving in Malmö for the first time, I take them there. The location, the atmosphere, the food - it’s just amazing.
ARTISAN COFFEE STORE
Hantverkaregatan 20, 211 55 Malmö
VISIT THEM ONLINE