by Gino De Blasio | 4 Minute Read
“How is it that this nation, a land where impatience is the key to everyday life can afford to queue for nearly 20 minutes at a time for a coffee. It makes no sense.” No one famous said this, that would be how other articles written on this site go. No, this is an original one from the author, me.
The United Kingdom seems to persistently get the coffee conundrum wrong. Whereas in Italy it is legally acceptable to wait 40 years for constitutional reforms, and nearly three hours in a post office, if an espresso isn’t served within thirty seconds the barista is doing, “a bad job.” Not in the UK, where your life is online and fast and your coffee more akin to waiting on a new season for House of Cards (1).
When you spend nearly £30 a week on either flat whites (a poor man’s Italian cappuccino), bitter espresso (seriously, tamp the machine) or cortados (Spain’s most welcome introduction) you gain an ‘eye’ for a good coffee. Mixed with an Italian heritage and impending disownment of family members, you are a qualified critic.
If it wasn’t thanks to Nordic Noir TV Shows, many wouldn’t know that the Scandinavian nations take their coffee quite so seriously. You may have heard of hygge (2), but happiness, cosiness, comfort, heated blankets, an overabundance of candles and way too many light fittings set to neuropathic dullness somehow makes the coffee experience in countries like Denmark, markedly different.
Gone are the queues which make no sense; shunned are those that barge with the intent to pay, have made, and swill their coffee faster than Usain Bolt jogging to the nearest McDonald’s pre-race; it’s remarkably simple. Order, take a seat, wait.
Darkness is embraced, even with all the candles and stylishly designed lampshades; comfort is maxed out with dapper seating and an array of treats like freshly baked pastries and cakes. Yes, your avenue to light sensitivity retina damage and type II diabetes awaits, but there is always the fact that you are warm and comfortable to think about.
Yes, your avenue to light sensitivity retina damage and type II diabetes awaits, but there is always the fact that you are warm and comfortable to think about.
Silence is not an option. Queue resolution comes with a caveat, leave your name or have a ticket number and wait for it to be howled across a cacophony of tabled conversations, bean grinding and the somewhat confusing Jazz techno music used to suscitate alertness and chill at once.
You have your wifi, morning papers & evening books which all serve a purpose, and the hot chocolate with a block of cocoa dipped into a hot cup of milk; and the coffee quality, very good.
It’s more anodyne than your British experience, less antagonistic than an Italian foray but it’s equally as unique. That’s if you can see where you’re going, can hear your mind and body think over walls of sound and understand that your brain is brought out of slumber at hearing your name yelped over soft electronica music that is.
What can we truly learn from a Danish coffee house then? Coffee is a leveller of nations, a window into habits and the soul of a country, Denmark’s may be slightly darker than others, but it’s faster and toastier than you may expect.
This post is brought to you from a recent trip to Copenhagen. Coffee houses visited were, Mad & Kaffe (Sønder Blvd. 68, 1720 København V, Denmark), Baresso (all over the show) and Copenhagen Coffee Lab (Boldhusgade 6, 1062 København K, Denmark).
1) House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as power mad Washington elites that cease control of the presidency through trickery, deception and intertwine the storyline with homo-erotic suggestion, a horrible marriage and a penchant for the overdramatic. I’m not sure where they get their ideas from…
2) Hygge is now a trend and not the way the Danes live if you were to read any book on the subject. Publishing houses have become smitten with the idea because… it sells books. Go figure.