By Celeste Wong
The Girl in the Café
For years I’ve wanted to visit my Danish friend in Copenhagen – so off I set. Unfortunately Roar was working a lot while I was there, but I’m glad we got to hang out a bit and it was great to have a local to help suggest places for me to visit.
I actually get anxious when I know I’m about to get on a plane (not because of the actual flying itself) – but I suffer from the fear of not being able to pack everything I think I might need in my suitcase! Luckily this time I packed a couple of extra hoodies into my beautiful and roomy luggage (thanks Eastpak!) because Copenhagen turned out to be a lot chillier than I anticipated.
I’m a bit in-love with my bright juicy-red apple Tranzshell (by Eastpak) because of its shape and colour. It’s always a relief to see it roll out on baggage claim. So it appears, my anxiety is becoming less and less…
One thing that surprised me about Copenhagen was the fact that you can practically walk everywhere. It’s amazing. No wonder everyone cycles, because it’s flat with designated cycle lanes that are so clear and safe – unlike London (You can hire them everywhere). Though, I decided to walk instead of cycle so I could really take in the sights at my own leisure.
I was impressed by the variety of cafes and restaurants there. Obviously expectations were high, being the home of NOMA (a restaurant I am still dying to go to). But fortunately there are plenty of great alternatives. Manfreds is one restaurant that I had been told by so many people to go to, so how could I not? It’s the alternative to Relae (across the road) which is the more fancy and expensive version. But Manfreds was perfect for me and probably more my style. After a long day of coffee and sight seeing, I treated myself to a 7 course chef’s selection so I could try a bit of everything. Expecting the dishes to be small, I feared I might still be hungry after – but I wasn’t. It was fantastic. All the dishes were interesting and varied. I’d highly recommend a visit (the steak tartar is a favourite there too).
Meyers Bagleri (Jaggersborgard) also lived up to its reputation for their famous cinnamon rolls (the bread version, not the pastry) which are to die for. I made the most of this place, eating one almost every day, strolling through the close by autumnal Assistens Cemetery with a coffee in hand of course. The cinnamon rolls are soft and substantial, yet not too heavy and the cinnamon is tasty but not overpowering nor too sweet. Perfection.
Despite Denmark’s coffee consumption per capita declining, coffee culture in Copenhagen is definitely growing, Like their neighbours in Berlin, people tend to sit in and take time to drink their coffees but it seems the takeaway trade is getting a little more popular here.
I’ve been wanting to visit The Coffee Collective café for a long time and it's probably the most reputable café/roaster in Denmark. It’s long standing quality reputation in London didn’t disappoint. I visited all three sites; Their original café on Jaegersborggade, is tiny and very lo-fi. Charmingly low-key, it’s like walking into someone’s house or kitchen. Their second café in Torvehalle is very slick with dark wood, glass, and silver equipment that suits the busy nature of being in a famous indoor specialty food market. It was buzzing - very much a haven for travellers wanting to get out of the cold and grab a decent coffee. I met up with Rasmus who I met years ago at a London Coffee Festival. Even back then he fascinated me with his natural enthusiasm for coffee and killer smile. It was great to see he was still continuing his work with The Coffee Collective, overseeing all three sites. He gave me a tour of their roastery (and their newest café). Serene and sophisticated, serving a small but attractive food menu. I was not only impressed by their technology and processes but mostly impressed by their ethos and company structure. We spoke a lot about the London trends and the differences between being a barista in London and Copenhagen. I met Klaus Thomsen briefly (World Barista Champion 2006 ) who told me about their direct trade structure and about the riots in Ethiopia which are making trade dangerous for roasteries to travel to.
I particularly enjoyed Prolog Coffee Bar which is a quirky tiny coffee bar in the meatpacking district of Vester Bro, that has many other good eateries around. It’s a cool area to wander around. I really enjoyed chatting Sebastian, one of the co-owners who made me a lovely Honduras coffee, he roasted himself. Other cafes that I also enjoyed was Democratic Coffee (that retails new coffee roaster (Patrik Rolf's) April Coffee Cph), Atelier September (frenchy chic) and Coffee Lab (Dark and cosy). I missed 108cph because of the rain one day – but it gives me an excuse to visit again!
Louisiana (Museum of Modern Art) is about 40 minutes by train from Copenhagen city centre and is a MUST to visit. The building was incredible and overlooks the ocean. There were 3 exhibits going on inside, as well as many sculptures displayed on the picturesque grounds outside to explore with a terrific café and gift shop. My favourite exhibit was French artist Louise Bourgeois with her “Structures of Existence – The Cells”. I found her exhibition very powerful and emotive.
Louisiana is also conveniently close to the Ferry Docks to Helsingborg (Sweden) where (the famous swedish) Koppi Café and Roasters happens to be! So I popped over to say hi. There were very few people walking around Helsingborg, but as soon as I stepped into Koppi Café it seemed as if I was magically transported into another world of warmth and vibrancy. The space is beautiful and the vibe was jolly and alive. It was kind of strange because you look outside and it’s a ghost town!
After a refreshing Coffee Tonic (a classic on their menu that was delicious) I had a long chat with Klaus (the manager there) about the realities of using technologies like the Marco SP9, different brew methods and service.
Aware that it was getting late and dark, I walked down to their new roastery in a super industrial part of town and had a blast catching up with Blazko (their head roaster) and watching him roast whilst talking about where they get their beans, their processes and plans ahead. They made me a V60 pourover with their favourite Costa Rican import then it turned quickly to beers…
If you are in Copenhagen, it’s such an easy trip to visit Koppi in Helsingborg, Sweden. You should also take a trip to Malmo from Copenhagen too, as it’s supposed to rival Stockholm for its famous scandi design asthetic aswell, Koppi have just opened a new café there this week!
The thing I love about travelling and exploring is that by seeing and talking to different people along the way, I get a really unique insight on what really goes on within a place or culture. We’re all shaped by our experiences and the more we push ourselves to learn by doing and asking, the more connected we can feel to the world and others. I’m also getting much more efficient at packing my luggage/daypack and better at navigating around foreign cities. Cant wait for the next trip - I hear there's great coffee in Prague...
Below I’ve set out a possible itinerary by area so that you not only get caffeinated by some of the best cafes Copenhagen has to offer but you also get culturally fed as well. You can see Copenhagen in around 3 to 4 days comfortably and use good cafes as a destination point to go explore the surrounding sights on the way. Enjoy!
Day 1: by areas
Head to meat packing district Vester Bro.
Nyhavn to see the boats and colourful docks
Head over the new footbridge to Christiania (where Noma is)
Café 108 is there too.
Day 2: Jægersborggade
(A super cool boutique street)
The Coffee Collective (their first café)
Grod (famous porridge café)
Manfreds and Relae are on this street
Famous Assistens Cemetery
Day 4. Louisiana & Koppi Coffee
Louisiana museum of modern art (Central station to Humlebaek station)
Then 10 minutes to Helsingor Station where you can catch the 30minute ferry to Helsingborg, Sweden and visit Koppi Coffee Roasters - or do a day trip to Malmo, Sweden on the fairy to see their brand new cafe! (Plus, I hear the design & shopping there in Malmo is amazing).