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John Howie Restaurants' Erik Liedholm Is Seattle's First Certified Coffee Sommelier

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He completed training through Swiss-based Nespresso

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Erik Liedholm
Erik Liedholm
Courtesy of John Howie Restaurant Group

We all know the term sommelier in relation to the wonderful world of wine, but somms aren’t just about grapes anymore. Enter Erik Liedholm, Seattle’s first and so far only certified coffee sommelier.

The longtime wine director of John Howie's restaurants, Liedholm got into coffee education through the vino world. After winning the International Chef Congress's Somm Slam in New York last fall, Liedholm was invited by the Swiss-based Nestle Nespresso to participate in its coffee sommelier training program with other wine sommeliers and chefs from the Netherlands, New York, Prague, and San Francisco. A producer of coffee, coffee machines, and other coffee-related services, Nespresso launched its coffee sommelier program in 2009 in teach professional (wine) sommeliers about the "intriguing world of premium coffee, enabling them to recommend specific coffees to their guests--just as they would do with wine," its website states.

For the coffee sommelier certification, Liedholm attended four meetings in Switzerland including both theoretical content and practical cupping and scoring sessions. "It was intriguing to evaluate flavor, texture and aromatic profile subtleties to discern the best way to harmonize coffee with different food, spirits and even water... Overall, an interesting parallel to the wine tasting experience," Liedholm says.

Liedholm is currently a Master Sommelier Candidate (wine) and is collaborating with John Howie on the upcoming Wildwood Spirits Co. in Bothell this summer. With the coffee sommelier certification in hand, he'll now have new ways to enhance guests' experiences across Howie's restaurants.

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