Coffee made by lemmings

Photo: Carl-Johan Utsi

Text: Emma Ebermark

Markus and Rolf were given the mission to bless the world with dark-roast, coarsely ground coffee. Surely, you’ve heard the story about the northern lemmings bringing coffee beans home from Africa, floating home with the Gulf Stream to roast the beans with their body heat, in the Swedish mountains? No? Well, here it is.

Imagine a clear summer’s eve at the riverbank. The midnight sun illuminates the surroundings with its magical, subdued light. Listen to the fire crackling and hissing, as orange-glowing firewood spreads heat and keeps the mosquitos at a proper distance. Take your coffee pan, and get some water from the stream, put the pan on the fire and boil yourself a pot of black gold.

I can promise that you’ve never tasted better coffee, and not even the most luxurious coffee bean in the world can give you the feeling you get inside when you try a cup full of newly brewed coffee under the midnight sun. That’s the feeling the company Lemmelkaffe (Lemming Coffee) wants to create with their dark-roast coarsely ground coffee.

lemmelkaffe, 1920 x 1080
Dark-roast. Photo courtesy of Lemmelkaffe

The mission

Markus and Rolf were given the task of blessing the world with dark-roast, coarsely ground coffee from the lemmings, and they’ve taken their mission seriously. The lemmings in the north collect coffee beans from Africa and float back home to the Swedish mountains with the Gulf Stream to roast the beans with their body heat. One day they asked Mark and Rolf to help them make the coffee available to people. And that’s how Lemmelkaffe was born. At least if you are to believe the legend.

The lemmings in the north collect coffee beans from Africa and float back home to the Swedish mountains with the Gulf Stream to roast the beans with their body heat.

Lemming fever

You know when you have that feeling that something is about to happen, but you can’t really put your finger on it. When something slowly, but steadily, installs itself firmly in your head. Like a virus on the brain that gets stuck and changes your senses and perception of the world. It’s no quick process, more a slow and patient one, taking whatever time it needs. That’s how Lemmelkaffe infiltrated the entire outdoor movement in Sweden. Now we’re infected with a new kind of fever – Lemming Fever – and the most obvious symptom is a strong craving for pot-boiled coffee and a constant longing for nature, with a fly-fishing rod at the ready.

lemmelkaffe, 1920 x 1080, markus och rolf
Markus and Rolf. Photo courtesy of Lemmelkaffe

Pot-boiled coffee culture

Since 2013 Lemmelkaffe has sold coffee and lifestyle products based on the dark-roast, coarsely ground coffee for pot boiling, made from arabica beans. The company is based in Gällivare and this is where we find one of the founders, Markus Lemke, who runs Lemmelkaffe with his colleague Rolf Nylinder.

– We founded Lemmelkaffe because we wanted to change the way people drink coffee, Markus tells us. And he continues:
– We wanted our unique coffee culture to get the status it deserves. Today we see it happening. We find pot-boiled coffee in cafés, restaurants, and people’s homes. It’s appreciated by people all over the world.

lemmelkaffe, 1920 x 1080
Lemmelkaffe wants to change the way people drink coffee. Photo courtesy of Lemmelkaffe

The best pot-boiled coffee

The best pot-boiled coffee is made over an open fire, outdoors. Coffee that takes time to make and tastes better the farther away from civilisation you are. What you need is fire, water, a coffee pan, and really good, dark-roast, coarsely ground coffee. For many years the tradition of boiling coffee outdoors all but disappeared. Instead, we brewed coffee at home and brought it in a flask, or even worse – brought hot water and freeze-dried instant coffee. Not even in nature did we take the time just to sit and allow the coffee to boil slowly while enjoying our food.

How to make pot-Boiled coffee

  • Make a fire out in the open.
  • Fill a coffee pan with water and bring to a boil.
  • Pour in just the right amount of coarsely ground coffee and bring it to the boil again.
  • Remove the coffee pan from the fire, pour the coffee into a wooden cup and pour it back into the pan a couple of times.
  • Let the grounds sink to the bottom of the pan.
  • Drink and enjoy!

The amount of coffee varies according to taste, but usually, you pour enough to create a little mountain of coffee inside the pot.

lemmelkaffe, 1920 x 1080
The best coffee in the world? Photo courtesy of Lemmelkaffe


Since Lemmelkaffe was founded there has been a revolution among outdoor enthusiasts, fly fishers and hunters, and all of a sudden boiling coffee in the forest is hot again. The Lemmings of the north bring more than coffee. Messages such as “No sleep just coffee”, “Be quiet” and “Dark as the future” are spread in Sweden and the world on t-shirts, caps, hats, coffee cups, coffee pans and everything else that belongs a simple, natural lifestyle. People who share a longing and love for nature and adventure wear these items as a statement for our Arctic lifestyle. On social media, there are images of coffee pans and wooden cups with steaming coffee featuring the hashtag #nosleepjustcoffee.

– At present we have a lot of dealers in Sweden and work with distributors around the world. Lemmelkaffe does well in Germany and Japan, and we have noted an increased interest in our Swedish coffee culture, Markus says.

Markus also talks about how he dreams about his hometown Gällivare becoming a Coffee Mecca for locals as well as visitors. How people come to Gällivare to experience a unique coffee culture, and how he hopes that Lemmelkaffe one day will be part of putting Gällivare on the map with the world’s largest coffee pan.

lemmelkaffe, 1920 x 1080
The best pot-boiled coffee is made over an open fire, outdoors. Photo courtesy of Lemmelkaffe

Don’t forget the salt

Apart from silence, pure spring water and time, try adding a pinch of salt to your coffee next time you make it. In the past, people used to put a piece of salted reindeer meat in the coffee, or salty coffee cheese. Partly because it enhances the flavour, but also because it enriches the coffee with important minerals that aren’t present in the rippling water of the stream. That’s why Lemmelkaffe packets come with a little bag of salt.

Get your hands on a cup of Lemmelkaffe

Lemmelkaffe is sold all over Swedish Lapland (even in some chosen supermarkets) but you can get your hands on a cup of dark roasted goodness online as well. Go to lemmelkaffe.com, to learn more.

You can also buy Lemmelkaffe in Germany at heldbergs.com, in the Netherlands and Belgium at bushcraftshop.nl and in Japan at lemmelkaffe.jp.