Another post long overdue! During Easter break I took my first trip up to Stockholm (“sthlm” to the Swedes), riding one of the cheap Veolia trains that look like they’re from the 1950s. Stockholm at Easter is a city full of people relaxing in the park, barbecuing, or vacationing out in the country. Those good vibes, and the overwhelming hospitality offered by my roommate’s family, made for a happy introduction to Sweden’s capital city.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that any visit to a new place comes with a slew of new cafe posts. But I’ve decided to keep them brief here given the short length of time I had in the city. You can only say so much about the coffee without exaggerating the good or bad when you’ve only stopped in for one or two drinks. So until I get a chance to return, here are snapshots of Stockholm’s cafe scene, starting with my favorite, Kura Cafe!
First up, I met with Jesper, Oscar, and some of Stockholm’s discerning coffee geeks & baristas who were already hanging out at Kura Cafe. This charming place, which you can see in the pictures above, is run by a pair of equally charming Kiwis who really know how to create a welcoming atmosphere. I stopped in twice, enticed by the friendly service and the well presented espresso, roasted & blended by Gothenburg based da Matteo. Definitely one of my all-around favorite cafes I’ve been to!
Coffeegeeks love taking pictures on their smartphones.
Next up was Mellqvist Caffe Bar, seen above, running an unusual setup with dual two-group Synesso espresso machines. They serve Haugaard coffee, a Swedish roaster who has something of a mythic reputation in the country (supposedly a high end knife maker and coffee control freak, a myth I’ll leave politely unquestioned). I ordered the “Portland” which was a double or triple ristretto. One of our fellow coffee nomads couldn’t even drink his, nor could I after sipping it (flat, bitter, over-extracted flavor). My shot also arrived looking a bit unseemly with a dark band through the middle, but tasted alright with a decent balance of sweetness, bitterness, and acidity. Perhaps not the best way to showcase a mythical roaster like Haugaard. Should the chance present itself, I look forward to meeting the man behind the myth and tasting the coffee as he deems worthy.
Kaffeverket (above) is a space gone over carefully by an interior decorator, and the kind of place you might find yourself inclined to flip through Vogue while sitting in a window seat. Also the sort of cafe where the baristas seem to look for someone in the back to come out and pull your shot. But this worrying sign turned out fine, and my espresso was pleasant. Notes of apricot and plum tartness show through da Matteo’s Vallgatan blend, with an extraction that was slightly more extreme in tartness and lighter in body compared to Kura Cafe, who seem to pull shorter, sweeter, thicker shots with the same blend.
While we were there, I ventured to call this a typical Swedish style espresso, which might be a big generalization given my limited exposure, and perhaps more accurately describes a trend or coincidence at the time I arrived in Sweden. Not a bad thing, and I enjoyed my espresso at Kaffeverket, but plum and apricot aren’t my favorite flavor notes in espresso. I do, however, love the way Stockholm cafes lay out large platters of small prepared sandwiches on the bar. Not the most hygienic thing, but it looks great.
I have a couple more places to mention, so keep an eye out for part two! Til then, here’re some photos from Stockholm to make you jealous :)
You can find these cafes on my global coffee map:
View FRSHGRND – Global Cafe Guide in a larger map