Have a coffee in the Gamla Stan district in Stockholm

Coffee, Connection, and Kanelbulle.

Exploring Stockholm's Thriving Coffee Scene.

Imagine a culture where coffee is so deeply ingrained into daily life that it has its own verb. In Stockholm, Sweden, the art of coffee is so much more than just a morning pick-me-up. It's an essential part of social interaction and a way for people to connect with each other.

We had the pleasure of talking with Joanna Alm, co-founder of our favorite coffee roastery and café Drop Coffee Roasters in the creatively chill Södermalm district of Stockholm, to get an inside look at the thriving coffee culture in the city.

It's Fika time.

Drop into any Stockholm coffee shop around 10AM and you'll find the place buzzing. Small groups of 08'ers ("oh-eight-ers" as locals are often called, referring to the Stockholm telephone city code) and travelers in-the-know are gathering for Fika — the very Swedish ritual of sharing time with friends over coffee and pastries.

"The word Fika is both a noun for 'coffee and a sweet bun' like a kanelbulle (pronounced "kah-NEEL-bool-eh") but it's also used as a verb," explains Joanna.

"To me, Fika is more of a verb — it's about catching up with a friend and having coffee together. If you haven't seen someone for a while, you just text them and say 'shall we grab a Fika soon?' "

Coffee just isn't the same in Stockholm without a kanelbulle

Coffee at the center of life.

Drinking an average of 3.2 cups of coffee a day, more than double what we drink here in the States, the Swedes take their coffee very seriously. Coffee is stitched deeply into the fabric of everyday life here.

"Wherever you are, you will be offered a coffee," shares Joanna. "If you walk over to visit a neighbor, you will be offered a coffee. At a party, there's always coffee or a Fika offered. Even at a funeral, you'll be offered a coffee. At any occasion, coffee is always part of the experience."

And Fika isn't just for off-time, it's also part of the work day.

In a traditional workplace, you'll have a 'coffee break' for about 10 minutes at 10AM, and a second 'Fika break' at 2PM — sitting down together with work colleagues for coffee and something sweet, for about 15 minutes.

Stockholm coffee (r)evolution.

In the last decade, Stockholm has seen a dramatic shift away from classic coffee houses serving old-style, dark roasted coffees.

"The old cafés in Sweden used to be (and many still are today) more like a confectionery," shares Joanna. "At a classic café, you'd find a self-serve table with thin porcelain cups and filter coffee batch-made and kept warm in a thermos. In these places, everyone takes their filter coffee and chooses a pastry from a vast assortment of freshly made sweets."

These days, the coffee scene in Stockholm has been transformed with vibrant specialty coffee roasters and cafés sprinkled throughout the city. There's been a renaissance on coffee bean quality and roasting methods, "and of course, the knowledge and the skills of the Barista," she says.

While lighter roasts dominate the specialty coffee scene in Stockholm, darker roasts are still prevalent in the commercial sector and old-school coffee houses. Joanna notes that "most old-style coffee in Sweden is still dark roasted. Many specialty roasters are still doing some blends or coffees that are more darkly roasted. But most of the specialty coffees have lighter style coffees with vibrant acidity, too."

Locals and travelers alike enjoying coffee at Drop Coffee Roasters in Stockholm

Joanna founded Drop Coffee Roasters with a vision of offering a modern coffee experience in Stockholm's Södermalm neighborhood. Her roasting style is focused on highlighting the unique characteristics of each coffee bean variety that she sources direct from coffee growers.

"I visit all of the coffee producers we buy from, and I am very careful in what we buy in terms of both flavor and sustainability. As the coffee arrives and we start roasting, I try to preserve and present the coffee at its absolute authentic best — with no burnt flavors added to it from over-roasting," she says. "It's about bringing forward the vibrancy and sweetness of the coffee beans, no matter if it is a delicate coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia or a more chocolatey coffee from Caranavi, Bolivia."

Coffee with a shot of fairness.

The most exciting development in Stockholm's coffee culture, according to Joanna, is the growing awareness about the importance of paying more for coffee beans. "In Stockholm, people question how the coffee was grown and how much the producers were paid, using their buying choices to create a positive impact in the world. That, in combination with the rich flavors and the handcraft nature of coffee, makes for a coffee scene in Stockholm that is really popping," she enthuses.

Coffee may be the star of Fika, but tea is not completely absent from the Swedish coffee culture. Joanna points out that "Sweden does not have a strong tea culture...only a small percentage of people have a cup of tea instead of a coffee. However, specialty tea is also growing in Sweden today and that interests many of the flavor-focused Stockholmers."

Coffee and a bun at Drop Coffee in Stockholm

When it comes to enjoying coffee with a pastry, Joanna divulges her three favorite cinnamon bun spots in the city for kanelbulle and kardemummabulle: Green Rabbit, Sebastian på Söder, and Drop Coffee's next-door neighbor, Bageri Petrus.

What makes these treats so special? "All of them make their pastries with a 'cultural cereal' called kulturspannmål. It's an organic flour made of old Swedish heirloom grains that are not genetically altered just for production volume." she says. The authentic flavors and textures of the heirloom grains make all the difference.

In terms of how Stockholmers like to take their coffee, Joanna notices that "more commonly than sugar, milk is used to sweeten the coffee and to take down the bitterness." She also reveals that she rarely has something on the side of her coffee, preferring simply "a chocolate cookie with sea salt or perhaps banana bread, those flavors often meet a well made specialty coffee better than a sweet and spicy cinnamon bun."

Enjoying coffee in the Gamla Stan district of Stockholm

Passion transforms your travel experience.

Stockholm's coffee culture is a fascinating blend of tradition and innovation, with passionate individuals like Joanna Alm at the forefront, pushing the boundaries and elevating the experience for travelers and coffee lovers alike.

As you explore the city's vibrant neighborhoods, take the time to Fika with the 08'ers and make new friends, savor the flavors of expertly crafted coffee, and enjoy the delightful pastries that Stockholm has to offer. You'll not only be immersing yourself in the local culture but also supporting a thriving and sustainable coffee scene that prioritizes quality, craftsmanship, and fair trade practices.

So grab your travel mate (or favorite 08'er) and Fika your way through the fascinating world of Stockholm's coffee culture. 

Save $5 on your first Stockholm Coffee order!BRING THE TASTE OF STOCKHOLM HOME.

Stockholmers love coffee made right at home, and you can too — saving you the trip!

Come taste and experience their fascinating coffee flavors and culture, and you'll even save $5 on your first coffee order. Just use discount code STOCKHOLM-5 at check-out. 

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