She's cooked pizza, fish soup, birthday cake, and something she calls "testicle tacos" using, exclusively, her coffee maker.
A few years ago, I briefly lived in Stockholm. My time there was punctuated by constant coffee breaks—fika, as they’re called in Swedish—because it’s so fucking dark all the time that you can’t stay awake without drowning yourself in black coffee. Swedes love their coffeemakers as much as they love pickled fish and IKEA and electronic music. They practically bathe in coffee; in fact, Sweden is the world’s third-biggest coffee consumer per capita.
Then I heard about Katja Wulff, a Swedish blogger who repurposed her precious coffeemaker into an all-purpose cooking machine. She still makes coffee in it, allegedly, but she’s also cooked pizza, fish soup, birthday cake, and something she calls "testicle tacos" using, exclusively, her coffeemaker. Her recipes are compiled on the Swedish blog Kaffekokarkokboken (basically, "Coffeemaker Cookbook") and, more recently, on its English counterpart, Coffee Machine Cuisine. Both blogs are flooded with photos, taken by Wulff's boyfriend Dan Sörensen, that prove just how weird the culinary arts can be. I spoke with Wulff about how the obsession all started, what she’s cooking on her new YouTube cooking show, and how to fry balls in the same pot you brew coffee.
Wulff's concoction of lamb, chicken, and pig hearts, chopped up to be cooked in her coffeemaker. All photos by Dan Sörensen.
VICE: So where did this idea come from?
Katja Wulff: Back in 2009, I lived in a dorm and I shared a kitchen with lots of other students. I did not like to cook in that kitchen, because I'm not a very social person, and the thought of hanging out with the other people sometimes creeped me out. They were all nice people, so that was all on me. And the other thing is that I've never liked to cook, didn't know how to. There was this one day that I was extremely unsocial and tired—er, hungover—and I did not want to go to the kitchen. I thought about preparing my noodles in warm water from the sink but realized quickly that it must be much smarter to cook the noodles in my coffeemaker. And it worked great! I was so proud of myself and started to think about what more I could cook with it. Soon my little experiment escalated and I never cooked in that kitchen again. I even got away from the mandatory cleaning week that each student got since I never spent any time there.
Wait, you don’t like to cook?
And yet, you write a cooking blog? It seems like the project is more about art than food.
That's absolutely right. I think that Coffee Machine Cuisine is more of a creative or twisted humor or blog rather than a food blog. If you're looking for great recipes, then read another blog. If you want to have a good laugh, I hope you'll think Coffee Machine Cuisine is fun. It’s the same with the cookbook [Kaffekokarkokboken, published in 2011]. I want people to read the book from the first page to the last. You don't do that with cookbooks, but this isn't a cookbook. The blog and book aren’t about cooking great and tasty food—although I try all of the time. It's about creativity and encouraging people to do whatever they like to do.
Zappa, Wulff's hairless cat, sniffs at something brewing in the coffeemaker.
Have you ever made something absolutely disgusting in your coffeemaker?
Yes. I think most people would agree that my cat food birthday cake for Gucci [one of Wulff’s three cats] was very disgusting. I almost puked numerous of times by the smell of it. But taste is very individual, and many people are super disgusted by some recipes that I think are great, both because I cook it with my coffeemaker and because I love to use weird ingredients like testicles, tails, feet, and liver. I mean if there's a whole head looking out from the coffeemaker carafe, I reckon it's a much more fun and creative recipe. The pictures that Dan takes are just as important as the rest. But I don't only cook weird recipes. I also cook normal stuff like pizza, pasta Bolognese, chicken curry...
Katja Wulff, preparing to cook noodles in her coffeemaker
Right, you recently wrote about making pizza in your coffeemaker. To your credit, it looks amazing. But the recipe says it took three hours to make. Do you ever feel like cooking with your coffeemaker instead of a stove is, you know, a waste of time?
Thanks! It took three hours because the proofing—is that the correct word?—of the dough. In my cooking show I used a pre-proofed dough, and it only took an hour. But I get your point. It does take a lot of time, but a lot of hobbies do, right? I don't get people that dance on their spare time. Like, ugh, I think that's weird, but I do respect it. Or knitting? Now that’s time consuming. Scrapbooking... do people even do that anymore?
You were recently invited to join six other Swedish chefs for a YouTube series called Food Club. How's that going?
The other people are famous, like great food profiles and chefs. Olympic food winners. And then it's me, and I don't even like cooking. Ha! It's a bit déjà vu for me, because Kaffekokarkokboken won Swedish Food Blog of the Year back in 2010, and I was like: WTF? But I do think it should win every year now. I'm the black sheep, but I love it.
What's the best thing you've ever made?
Testicle tacos! I love the name of it, the texture of the balls, and what it looks like. And also, it tastes great. This is a typical recipe that people are absolutely disgusted by, but if they dare to taste it they think it tastes good. I also think if you eat meat, eat as much as possible of the dead animal. It's stupid to say, "Ugh, I don't like that" or whatever if you haven't even tried it.
On her YouTube channel, Wulff demonstrates how to make testicle tacos.
I noticed that in addition to maintaining Kaffekokarkokboken, you've started a new English-only blog, Coffee Machine Cuisine. What was your reason for starting that?
It started to get lots of attention abroad and Google Translate sucks. My English isn't always the best, but much better than Google Translate.
Cats seem to play a big role in your blog. In fact, you were once described on a local television show as "Coffeemaker Chef/Crazy Cat Lady." Tell me about that.
I'm a true crazy cat lady and we’ve got three cats: Gucci, Iggy and Zappa. Gucci is kind of famous for starting the whole cats wearing tights trend with our blog Meowtfit of the Day.
Right! Your blog where you dress your cat up in tights.
Yeah. Gucci won cat of the year in Sweden and we even got a catograph stamp. People sometimes write to us and would like me to send a signed copy of the book to them. Signed with the catograph, that is. Some of them don't even care if me and Dan sign it. I can talk all day and all night about my cats, but I think I will stop here if you don't want to know more.
Squid pokes out of Wulff's coffeemaker.
When I lived in Sweden, and I vividly remember how much coffee Swedes drink. Did that play a role in your decision to cook with a coffeemaker?
Actually, I never liked coffee. I drink it because I'm tired. For a Swede I'm not a big consumer of coffee at all. I only had a coffee aker in that room because of the death of Nonne, my grandma [from whom Wulff inherited the machine] and partly because I was a student and needed coffee sometimes.
And you have another coffeemaker to actually make coffee in, right?
Nope. I cook all of my food with the same coffeemaker that we—mostly Dan, he’s a big coffee consumer—make coffee in. We just wash it between the different stuff we cook in it. I mean, if you fry bacon one day with a frying pan, the next day when you prepare pancakes they hopefully wont taste like bacon, right? Exactly.
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