As we descended into Stockholm, I was struck by how much Sweden resembled my imaginings. From the window of the plane I caught glimpses of Nordic architecture in the towns below, and could see evergreen trees and lakes extending far into the distance.
The interior of Arlanda airport itself looks like a Scandinavian lodge, with rustic wood paneling, heavy timbered beams, and large panes of glass. And it has a fabulous pantry filled with local delights, such as spectacular open face sandwiches anchored by dark bread and piled with shrimp, fish, and meatballs with lingonberry sauce.
I hadn’t even claimed my luggage before I was enchanted by this land.
The purpose of my visit to Sweden was to meet the founders of Roomi, a new producer of intriguing non-alcoholic beverages. In Delmosa’s ongoing search for unique products, one of the essential attributes we look for is a cultural link between the beverages and the places where they are made. In today’s globalized world, much of our food supply has become commoditized – meaning that most of what we eat and drink can be made by anyone, anywhere. Once I learned that Roomi uses only raw juice from native Swedish berries and foraged elements from the forests, a trip to the north country proved irresistible.
The morning after my arrival, I boarded the train to Borlange, in the scenic region of Dalarna, two hours northwest of Stockholm. There I was greeted by Michael Toivio, CEO of Roomi and professor at a local college. Michael informed me that we had a 30 minute drive yet to go before arriving at Grangarde Musteri, the organic berry farm where Roomi is made. The farm is surrounded by lakes, forest, and low mountains, and feels quite remote. In fact, the owner, Tomas Tillman, informed me that a wolf pack had recently moved into the area.
It was October, and though all the berries had long since been harvested, walking the fields nonetheless gave me a sense of how carefully Tomas and his crew work the land and tend the fruit. The interior of the juicing facility was no less impressive in design and cleanliness. Grangarde Musteri appeared to be an ideal partner for the innovative beverage entrepreneurs at Roomi.
I was getting anxious to start tasting, and since Roomi’s products are meant to pair with food, Michael took me to a little café back in town. Over a light lunch we sampled both the Roomi Svarta Vinbar-Aronia (black currant-chokeberry) and the Rabarber-Lingon (rhubarb-lingonberry). Based on the list of ingredients I was fully expecting to taste something uncommon, yet the first sips still surprised me, as they revealed beverages that are earthy, complex, and far less sweet than what I was prepared for. In fact, my initial impression was one of concern — would American consumers, accustomed to sugary drinks, appreciate beverages this challenging?
The more I drank the more Roomi won me over with unapologetically adult sophistication. Their beverages are intentionally bold, with dry, tart, full bodied fruit and musty, peppery undertones. While they might not be for everyone, those looking for an authentic taste of Sweden and a great accompaniment to a fine meal will find pleasure in these bottles.