A magazine about coffee is exactly what would be satirised if there was a Portlandia episode about independent publishing, especially a coffee magazine where the design emulates the frothy, light and crisp look of a leaf on a perfect flat white. I’ve never spent a huge amount of time with coffee mags – not because I don’t love coffee, but because I’ve always thought of them as potentially a bit B2B despite the elegant layouts. Since I don’t run my own roastery, I thought I wouldn’t get them. There are also so many coffee journals that it’s difficult to know where to start: with NYC’s Drift, Portland’s Barista and Caffeine from London, I’ve always felt a bit overwhelmed by the choice.
Oslo’s Brygg magazine has that same white, airy and minimal aesthetic, and since it’s been recommended to me over and over again this year (unsurprisingly, Coffee Table Mags have highlighted it quite a bit), I thought I’d give their first ever English edition a go. The fact that they’re going for an international audience is interesting – the coffee magazine genre is showing no signs of dying down, and one year old Brygg seems to be getting more popular with each issue.
I should have taken heed from Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes and realised that something coffee themed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s just for caffeine nerds – a lot of what Brygg is interested in is actually conversation, the kind of conversation people have when meeting for coffee dates (like in Jarmusch’s masterpiece). Almost every interview begins with the writer sitting and waiting in a cafe, whether with a cup of bitter coffee and a buttercream treat next to them or a steaming, strong Americano with lots of sugar. It doesn’t happen with every interview (for a feature on artist Josefine Lyche, the writer is drinking tea in Lyche’s studio), but I like the subtle, potentially subconscious, touch. Most of these interviews aren’t with coffee makers, just drinkers, including photographer Mads Teglers (above), performance artist Anja Carr (above) and editor Cecline Harris who produces Boys by Girls magazine (below).
There are also features for serious coffee connoisseurs, and I found reading them quite gentle and calming like sipping on a latte. A short piece about how coffee is served at restaurant MAAEMO discusses the different shapes of cups and how size affects flavour (above), and an Oslo Coffee Guide minimally profiles the best places for a cuppa (below, apparently Oslo has superior tap water, making its coffee even better).
Brygg is gentle and warming – the kind of magazine you pick up at a café while waiting for a date, but which then takes you by surprise and becomes so tantalisingly absorbing that you slip it in your bag to take home.
Editor: Lene Haugerud
Art Direction & Design: Amalie Winther, Mikal Johannes, Murstad Strøm