Swedish fika, though loosely referring to drinking something warm along the lines of tea or coffee, is not unlike the British concept of ‘tea’, in that it is at once a noun and a verb. At home, at school or work and all over Sweden, daily life is punctuated by fika or coffee breaks.
Thus, it’s easy to imagine why Stockholm would be a cafe-lover’s paradise… With literally hundreds to choose from, i’d undoubtedly end up insulting somebody– or omitting someone’s favourite if I didn’t limit myself to just three (or four) of my favourites to recommend to you…
A Stockholm institution of sorts, Cafe Saturnus in Ostermalm is sort of a Swedish/French fusion of a cafe. Good brunch, huge kanelbulle and massive coffees out of a bowl, its pretty easy to understand why there’s a line up all weekend long. Though not cheap, nothing in Stockholm is…
On the other end of town, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, are two cafes with a relatively similar vibe located not too far from one another. In fact, walk in any direction, on any street in Sodermalm and you’ll find somewhere decent enough to poke your head into. But Gildas Rum and Cafe String are two of the more popular offerings in the area. The former being a bit more homey (with unreal cakes) and the latter serving up a typical Swedish brunch buffet on weekends make these two pretty decent options if you happen to be around Sodermalm.
With mismatched furniture, unlimited refills on drip coffee, and the smell of polished wood, Ritorno Cafe is an old school, Swedish style konditori (cafe). With rad furniture, mismatched artwork, and decent pies, sandwiches and baked goods, this is a gem located just down the road from one of the downtown libraries, Studentpalatset, and represents a decent alternative for tucking yourself into a corner and doing some reading. If it was in Sodermalm it’d be overrun by those gosh-darned-hipsters. Tucked away between St Eriksplan and Odenplan means the clientele here is not that far removed from what you’d expect of a cafe largely unchanged since 1959.
And, the last cafe on my list is being mentioned for its’ not being found anywhere in Stockholm (except Arlanda Airport oddly…).With such a strong coffee culture, its’ incredible that Stockholm’s diverse and independent coffee scene has managed to stave off advances from the American coffee franchise that everybody loves to hate– Starbucks. Though imitations abound(Wayne’s Coffee, Espresso House, and more) it is fairly refreshing not seeing a Starbucks on every corner. What is on every corner however, is myriad opportunities and options for every taste. If I had more time (and a larger budget), it’d be a great undertaking to endeavour to find even more cafes konditoris. For now… these will suffice, and thats not to mention the cheapest option of them all…. Pressbyran or 7-11 take-away cups.
Again, if anyone in Stockholm is reading this (anyone…? hello…? Beuler…?) it’d be great to hear some of your suggestions as well… Feel free to share!