If you’ve ever come across a lemming in Swedish Lapland, you probably thought of them as quite aggressive beings. Now we’ve gotten the inside scoop – they’ve just been frustrated and misunderstood. Markus Lemke lets us in on their secret message and the mission that him and his colleges have been assigned: to bless the world with dark roasted “kokkaffe”.

Let’s start by just explaining the term “kokkaffe”. It’s the traditional way of preparing coffee in Sweden – boiling it in a coffeepot, preferably over open fire. It’s a tradition barely being kept alive by keen outdoor enthusiasts and the odd café.

In a world where single-shot-skim-milk-macchiato kind of coffee is taking over, the boiled coffee that takes its time to cook is falling into oblivion. But revolution is coming with Lemmelkaffe – the worlds first dark roasted coffee. It takes time to cook – and it’s supposed to take time. Time to enjoy your company and great conversations.

I sit down with Markus Lemke to hear the story about how it all started.

– So, I’ve heard a rumour that you’ve been chosen to make Lemmelkaffe available to the world?

– That’s true. Me and my college Rolf Nylinder was out fly-fishing last summer in a river close to Gällivare where we live. Suddenly some lemmings approached me. They where really aggressive and making a lot of noise. For the first time, I tried to hear what they where saying – and I yelled to Rolf “It sounds like the lemmings are screaming coffee”.

All of a sudden their attitude changed – and we realised that they wanted us to follow them. It was like they’ve been misunderstood for so long, and suddenly their voices were heard and they could start executing their mission.

– So where did they take you?

– They took us to a place where they roast coffee beans – it was all quite surreal. They served up really great coffee and told us the story about how many years ago the first lemming stampede, lämmeltåg, made its way to Africa where the lemmings found coffee beans. They drifted back to northern Sweden with the Gulf Stream – each lemming carrying a coffee bean. Ever since then the lemmings have brought coffee beans here and roast them to perfection.

Morning coffee with Markus Lemke, First Roastmaster to the lemmings.
Kokkaffe takes time to boil and time to pour.
Although, kokkaffe is best enjoyed outdoors.
Just a pinch of salt and the coffee gets even tastier.

Lemmelkaffe is sold all over Swedish Lapland (although not in your regular supermarket) but you can get your hands on a cup of darkroasted goodness in your country by ordering it from their online shop.

– It seams like a lot of work for a tiny creature – how do they manage?

– They actually have a mantra: “no sleep, only coffee”, that they live by. And if you never sleep you have double the time to get things done.

– And now you’re helping the lemmings?

– We are. They’ve appointed us to be the ones bringing their coffee to the market.

– Why do you think you were chosen?

– I think it was pure luck – being at the right spot at the right time. And the fact that we took the time to listen to what they were actually saying.

– So where can I buy the coffee?

– The lemmings are very particular and they only use retailers that understand the importance of coffee that takes its time to get ready. They want us to take that moment to relax. On our website you’ll find the retailers, usually smaller shops located around Sweden. And one shop in Germany. But the lemmings are highly globalized so we’ve set up an online shop as well.

– And each pack of coffee comes with a bag of salt – why is that?

– Salt adds an extra richness if you put a pinch in when you boil the coffee. But also – when you’re out in the wild you boil your coffee of fresh water from a creek, and that water lacks minerals that is especially important if you spend several days hiking or fishing.

– Last but not least: did you catch any fish on that day when the lemmings approached you?

– No, we didn’t. But that’s not really the focus of getting out there. You just want that tranquillity and simplicity of nature and sit around and drink really good coffee over good conversations.

Together with Markus Lemke and Rolf Nylinder, Markus sister Melinda Lemke is also working for the lemmings and spreading their coffee to the people.

#lemmelkaffe on instagram
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