Torbjörn Schelin – product developer and beverage expert!

Torbjörn Schelin is our product developer in the beverage area. Like many others at Bayn, Torbjörn has a background in natural science, but Torbjörn is also a food person. Over the years he has started a brewery, worked as a sommelier, restaurant manager and attended a variety of educations – from biology to brewing technology. But there has always been a theme in Torbjörn's life – the passion for food and beverages.

20 March 2020 •

Our heroes. That is what we call our col­leagues, who work with research and devel­op­ment of our sweet­ened fibres. It is their knowl­edge, expe­ri­ence and dili­gent work that makes Bayn the lead­ing sup­pli­er of sweet­ened fibre. And these peo­ple are the ones that help you choose the right sweet­ened fibre and fine-tune the com­po­si­tion of your appli­ca­tion, or cre­ate your own solu­tion for sug­ar reduc­tion. Although they are heroes, they are rarely seen and heard. We should rem­e­dy that. In a series of arti­cles, you get to meet our heroes.

Torbjörn has always been inter­est­ed in the field of nat­ur­al sci­ence and has cul­ti­vat­ed a burn­ing inter­est in food and espe­cial­ly bev­er­ages. This inter­est has tak­en on dif­fer­ent expres­sions dur­ing Torbjörn’s life. Brewery and bev­er­age skills have been inter­twined with work as a som­me­li­er, bar­tender and head wait­er. But Torbjörn is also a trained biol­o­gist. This swirling knowl­edge jour­ney has brought him to Bayn where he today has an evi­dent role as a prod­uct devel­op­er in the bev­er­age area.

Natural science is a broad spectrum – why did you start studying biology?

I got an envi­ron­men­tal com­mit­ment ear­ly from my par­ents. They both had a back­ground in nat­ur­al sci­ence, my father as a chemist and my moth­er as a biol­o­gist. My par­ents had a strong inter­est in ani­mals and nature, and not least the need to take care of the globe we all sit on.

After high school, it was off to Borlänge to attend the nat­ur­al sci­ence foun­da­tion year. After that, I start­ed study­ing elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing but dropped out after the first semes­ter. It was­n’t my cup of tea.

Instead, I went to Uppsala to become a biol­o­gist. Then I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to immerse myself in botany. It seemed like a nat­ur­al step giv­en my inter­est in nature and the envi­ron­ment. It was an amaz­ing time with won­der­ful stu­dent life as one would expect a uni­ver­si­ty city like Uppsala to offer.

What happened after the biology studies?

The study peri­od did not end. It was a lit­tle back and forth. I head­ed off to England to study wine­mak­ing in Brighton for two years. Wine pro­duc­tion is very close to biol­o­gy. Therefore, it seemed nat­ur­al to attend a two-year edu­ca­tion that was avail­able at the time.

What happened then?

Back from Brighton, I learned about bev­er­age knowl­edge at Måltidens hus in Grythyttan – the school that came into being thanks to Adjunct Professor and famous Swedish gour­mand Carl Jan Granqvist.

During the year in Grythyttan, I immersed myself in the over­all meal expe­ri­ence and the inter­ac­tion between food and bev­er­ages. It was a nice time in Grythyttan, although a lit­tle sheltered.

You’ve also done some brewing?

My inter­est and focus have always switched between beer and wine. I have a great inter­est in alco­holic bev­er­ages in gen­er­al. But after study­ing in Grythyttan, I want­ed to deep­en my beer knowl­edge and learn more about how it is pro­duced. There was no return; I had to learn more about brew­ing technology.

Despite eight years of study, it was dif­fi­cult to get a job. That’s why I found­ed Sandbacka Brewery. It was all or noth­ing. When our Imperial Stout received a medal at the Stockholm beer and whisky fes­ti­val, it felt great. It real­ly was a recognition.

But you also have solid experience from the restaurant industry?

I have been around a few restau­rants and done most things on the serv­ing side. I have worked as a bar­tender, head wait­er, restau­rant man­ag­er, but I have also got an out­let for my wine inter­est when I worked as a sommelier.

It is often tough work­ing in the restau­rant indus­try, and even­tu­al­ly, I got tired of rarely being vacant dur­ing the week­ends. My social life was suf­fer­ing. But I can some­times miss the inter­ac­tion with the guests and the end con­sumer. It was very stim­u­lat­ing to talk about food and bev­er­ages and real­ly dig into it. It rep­re­sent­ed anoth­er dimen­sion of restau­rant life.

Do you have any favourite district when it comes to wine?

Very often I return to Californian wines. California has a wide vari­ety of wines and they con­sis­tent­ly main­tain high qual­i­ty. There is a theme of less sharp acid and fruiti­ness which I think har­mo­nizes very well with food. But I can also get lyri­cal by a real­ly good Riesling from Germany.

When did you become interested in sugar reduction?

It was at the same time when I start­ed at Bayn and got into the sub­ject. I had no direct expe­ri­ence of sug­ar reduc­tion since before, but my inter­est grew as I learned more about it.

Is there a parallel between alcoholic beverages and sugar reduction?

Yes, in some way there is. It is not always the case that high-qual­i­ty alco­holic bev­er­ages receive the atten­tion they deserve. This is very obvi­ous in the beer indus­try. But I expe­ri­ence the same thing in sug­ar reduc­tion. There are very good prod­ucts that do not get as much recog­ni­tion as they deserve. In addi­tion, there is a great poten­tial for devel­op­ment, both in alco­holic and non-sug­ar beverages.

Are there any particular types of beverages that you see potential in sugar reduction using Bayn’s products?

Oh! After all, there is a lot of sug­ar in almost all bev­er­ages. Not least in soda. There is so much you can do. I work with soft drinks, juices and lemon­ades – yes, sug­ary drinks in gen­er­al. But also niche prod­ucts as slush con­sist­ing of crushed ice.

What happens on a typical workday?

It varies quite a lot. At our stu­dio in Gävle, every­thing is close at hand. There is desk work as well as prac­ti­cal lab work. When it comes to sug­ar reduc­tion of bev­er­ages, it is rarely enough to replace sug­ar with ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides; sug­ar con­tributes more than just sweet­ness. For exam­ple, one must con­sid­er the bal­ance between sweet­ness and acid­i­ty and the body that the sug­ar gives to the bev­er­age. The work in the lab is large­ly about try­ing out new things and exper­i­ment­ing. Of course, you make qual­i­fied guess­es when you work, but you can nev­er be sure of the outcome.

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