Behind the scenes: Brygg magazine

by Stine Fantoft Berg in January 2016
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Food & drink

Oslo-based Brygg (Norwegian for brew) is a magazine of conversations and coffee that uses the much-loved hot drink as a facilitator for interesting and intimate interviews.

Initially published in Norwegian, Brygg magazine has recently turned one year old, and is celebrating the anniversary by reaching out to a new international audience with its first English issue. We caught up with co-founder Mikal Strøm to find out more about the transition, and to look back on the sometimes turbulent events of their first year.


Could you start by telling me about Brygg? What’s the main idea behind it?
The concept behind Brygg is interesting people getting together for a chat over a cup of coffee. Compared to where Brygg is today, we started off 100% coffee oriented – geeking out on coffee tasting (cupping) and water quality. But the concept has evolved with every issue – the three of us running Brygg are very different people with a myriad of different interests, and the thing we all share is our love for coffee and travel.


Except for the strapline ‘conversations & coffee’, Brygg is not obviously about coffee – what role does it play in the magazine?
You’re right – a lot of people don’t see the link at first, but to us it’s obvious. What do you do when you want to get to know someone better? You invite them for a cup of coffee. Today the magazine is divided into two sections; the first explores creative culture over a cup of coffee and the second is about destinations – where to go for a nice cup of coffee.

We use coffee and coffee culture as a basis for developing ideas for features and articles. In this issue we’re chatting with a variety of amazing Norwegian creators, and we usually get together over a cup of coffee, just having conversations. Personally, I like it when the conversation naturally floats. When you read the conversation between the writer and the artist, it doesn’t have to revolve around the artists’ art or the coffee. The conversation is what’s interesting, and the coffee facilitates the conversation.


What are you looking for in the people you choose to interview? Do they have anything in common?
In this issue all the subjects are Norwegian visual creators, but that’s not always the case. We are looking for interesting people, but the thing is, all people can be interesting if you get the conversation going. So we have about six billion people to choose from when we are searching for subjects for our conversations.


You launched Brygg in October 2014 – how has your first year been?
Yes, we did. I can’t believe it’s only been one year! We actually started up in a small publishing house – none of us are salespeople, and at the publishing house we had a salesperson who we thought could take care of the finances, so that Amalie, Lene and myself could focus on what we’re good at – the creative stuff. But after a couple of months we realised the salesperson wasn’t really selling anything, and the company was a sinking ship. So Amalie and I got together and quickly formed an escape route that could secure the continuance of Brygg.

It’s been a rocky patch, but we’ve learned a lot from it. Being independent is amazing – we can do what we want to do at any time. But I have to admit that publishing a magazine out of Norway is not the easiest thing to do. The printing costs are astronomical and the shipping costs are its evil twin.


And now you’ve launched in English!
Yes! We’ve wanted to make an English issue since the beginning, but it hasn’t been the right time until now. A lot of our decisions are just gut feelings, but my gut tells me our guts are very trustable, so to us there’s nothing scary about that. The magazine has been evolving a lot, very quickly, so it’s just been a matter of one step at a time.

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