You want to linger over coffee to chat, and you want something sweet.
“En kaffe latte, tack!”

That’s what it sounds like in cafés all over Sweden – as if Swedes had become Italians all of a sudden. How can a long, strong coffee tradition just change character like that? In the late 1990’s, Svensk Mjölk (Swedish Dairy Association), began the so-called Project Beige, heavily applauded by Arla and Skånemejerierna: It was high time for the Swedes to start drinking latte – it was high time for the dairies to sell milk like never before. Ten years prior, Arla had tried to get Swedes hooked on “café au lait”, but it never reached the same fever pitch as “Project Beige”.

“The campaign really took off in 2003,” says Christoffer Levak, chairman of the Swedish part of SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe), and one who really is hooked on lattes. He traveled all over Sweden teaching café owners how to make lattes. “I think café latte has so many advantages compared to regular coffee,” Levak says. “The most important one being that the guest feels he’s getting a customized cup of coffee. He feels the cup of coffee was made just for him.” Project Beige also managed to inject some air of aesthetics into coffee, ordering a latte seems more international somehow. A regular Swede became more like an Italian.

Today one can read on Arla’s home page: “The purpose of Project Beige has been to force the pace of the new coffee trend in Sweden. From January 2009, Arla Foods Beige is continuing without Svensk Mjölk under the name ‘Beige by Arla’.” It is a project that’s been deemed one of the most successful campaigns ever made for milk. We can already hear the café owners go: “Bravissimo!”
Arla Projekt Beige