Introduction & the Nordic Coffee Bubble
A little bit about myself first, I'm Kaapo Paavolainen. Currently the standing Finnish Barista Champion and the sole founder of One Day Coffee Co.
I've worked in the specialty coffee scene since 2011 and I've held multiple different positions in several different cafes.
I believe it was in 2016 when I first realized that I wanted to make coffee for a living and that I didn't want to be a lawyer like the rest of my family. Before that realization coffee had been just a hobby, a casual enjoyment every once in a while but on my way back home from my first cafe job I realized that I had discovered something else entirely. I had found a community.
It was also then when I discovered that working for other companies had it's own inherent limitations, that there would always be a roof which I would in the end always meet. It was that roof which made me think about starting my own business and so, just like that, One Day Coffee was first conceptualized.
This project has been many years in the making, first as an idea which has taken years to grow into its current form. I knew that I wasn't ready to jump in to being an entrepreneur when I first realized that I want to run a coffee business. I knew I had to learn and discover for myself what it is like on a first hand basis.
That is why I constantly strove to learn, to do and be better in coffee, a philosophy which carries over to One Day Coffee Co. as well. After over four years of learning and switching from position to position within other coffee companies I felt that I was ready to take on the responsibility of running my own business.
So One Day Coffee Co. was finally born.
Now onto some more serious stuff and the reasons why.
I believe that we who live in the Nordics exist in our own little specialty coffee bubble. I believe that bubble to be the main cause of stagnation where our specialty coffee scene is no longer evolving to meet the global standard or our customers demand (of course we have to remember that in every scenario there are outliers). I believe that due to trends in specialty coffee and a "don't fix if it ain't broke"-mentality our overall environment has stagnated to a level where development of the industry is not happening anymore.
I know this is a bold statement, especially since it is very clear that our industry and the environment where we operate is extremely small, niche even. However from my experience within the industry I have found a trend where specialty coffee roasters and cafes are preferring more conservative, safer coffee options which are appealing to a wider selection of consumers.
I believe that this bubble has multiple different origins and can be explained in multiple different ways but the key takeaway of it is that our industry has stagnated to a level where development is no longer happening from our side of the industry. Our coffee scene here in the Nordics is being left behind.
Also there are other factors to be considered, most notably we have to consider that maybe the environment really reflects the market and the demand? What this would mean in practice is that our customers are demanding lighter roasted coffees with a certain flavor palate (because according to statistics they drink mostly filter coffee, which is easy to make and, relatively speaking, consistently good) and therefore coffee roasters and cafes are accommodating to their customers demands. In short it is possible (and very likely) that the supply is accommodating to the demand.
This does however present us another series of interlinked question. Are the consumers demanding a certain style of product because they refuse other options and therefore the supply gravitates towards the needs of the consumers? Is the supply manipulated in such a way that the demand is created to only match a specific style of supply or, and this is what I believe to be the case, are coffee roasters and cafes only supplying a specific set of products to meet an already established status quo? Status quo which represents consumers expectations on what a product (coffee) should be.
Now this gets us to the whole root of the problem. What can we do if the situation is as described above? What can we do to change the way things are? Well the way I see it, the answer to that is very easy, we have to change ourself in order to change the environment and in the long run, the industry itself. Everything starts with one and then multiplies onward, one becomes two, two becomes four and so on and so forth.
As coffee professionals and coffee people, I see it as our job to educate our customers, to offer experiences which wake people, make them think that “I did not know coffee could taste like this”. This is why One Day Coffee exists, to address all these questions and to (borrow an extremely well worn term) disrupt the existing bubble at least a little bit.
I do hope that you enjoy our coffees and that you get to experience as many different ones as possible.
All the best,