In search of joy
Say it in a postcard | Issue 20 | 2022
—Coffee and Nordic afficionado Tomas Gärdfors on where to experience fika in the cold North—
Five out of the six countries with the highest coffee consumption in the world are Nordic, so it is no surprise that some of the best—and worst—coffee can be found there. Here are three favourites of mine that will wake you up in Sweden, take you over the Oresund bridge to Denmark and keep you going well into the night in Norway.
An early morning espresso at Café Albert
Stockholm has the air of any large capital in Europe and, for a coffee lover, one is spoiled for choice. However, the best place to sit with a morning paper, sipping an espresso and watching the morning rush past (mostly on foot or on bikes) is Café Albert, just at the bottom end of Birger Jarlsgatan, very close to Nybroviken. This is a great location to start before a day of meetings, as most offices are located within walking distance. For the sturdy and the brave, there are blankets and gas heaters for outdoor coffee all year round.
An experience of fika at Olof Viktors
From Stockholm, transport yourself to Skåne in southern Sweden.
The most famous coffee shop and bakery in (southern) Sweden must be Olof Viktors. You’ll have to use a car to get there: take road 9 from Ystad, turn off towards Ingelstad and you will soon see it on your right. Housed in an old, typical four-sided farm building (skånelänga) on the road between Ystad and Simrishamn, Olof Viktors has the best cardamom buns (kardemummabullar) in the world. The sandwiches, the bread, the ganache, the cake—it’s all fantastic. Trust me. But make sure you get there reasonably early, as queues can be long and produce may run out.
I am not talking about just a coffee and a cake: fika is an intrinsic part of Swedish culture. Enjoy.
An espresso Martini at The Thief
It is helpful that Olof Viktors is a stone’s throw (forty minutes) from Copenhagen airport in Denmark. This will enable you to jump on a plane (or a ferry) to Oslo in time for an espresso Martini at The Thief, a modern, chic hotel on Tjuvholmen at the centre of Oslo’s super cool Aker Brygge. This is quite possibly the best espresso Martini I have ever had; and the setting is great. Enjoy it on the roof terrace in the summer or in front of the fire in winter. No longer fika, but it keeps you chilled (or do I mean warm) on a cold Norwegian night.
Gunnar Benediktsson on Chaplin's little tramp and Paul Klee's 'Angel of History' | Issue 19 | 2021
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