First time I ever went to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, was in 6th grade on a school trip. What to me is most memorable from that trip, probably cause my father still brings it up, is that us kids didn’t like the sausages. They actually had proper meat in them, my father used to say, comparing them to the sorry excuse for a hot dog that was available in Sweden in those days.
Another time I went, coming back from the infamous Roskilde Festival in 1997, we had no place to stay and remained outdoors all night. Hung over, completely covered in mud and looking really destitute, even the homeless people of Copenhagen that walked by asked if we needed anything.
Those two separate memories of Copenhagen summons up pretty much what I again experienced; fresh produce taken for granted, and great hospitality.
I went on a road trip with my Belgian friends Régy and Sofie (Régy was the one coming up with the name for this blog by the way, during this trip) for an extended weekend, renting a Volvo V60 (what could possibly be a better car for a coffee trip?) and driving south in one go! We arrived pretty late, after coffees at Koppi in Helsingborg, in the heart of Copenhagen and decided to leave the car and immediately hit the streets. First stop was Mikkeler bar, much raved about amongst coffee twitterati especially since their much talked about cooperation with Swedish roasters Koppi. Being more of a Corona-with-lime-beer-drinker myself, I wasn’t too impressed by the beers (found them rather extreme, and I’ll leave that open whether that’s a positive or a negative). Saying that, I found the bar itself very nice, friendly and approachable.
The night ended up in Köttbyn (roughly translated into The Meatpacking District), where some bars were open late, and where I spotted what someone said was a genuine Obey Giant art work. Approached by prostitutes, and seeing coked up models dancing with their faces in the fan felt both decadent and amusing, but the long drive was getting to us, so we all ended up at home before sunrise.
Next morning saw me and Régy going first to The Coffee Collective at Jaegersbrogade for coffee, and then to Louisiana for art. The Coffee Collective was busy roasting when we entered, ordering first an espresso, then two different Aeropressed coffees. What really impressed me with the Coffee Collective was not just the fact that it seemed very genuinly hard core coffee focused, but also that they have opted to work with a very limited range of coffees, roasting three as singles for filters and one single for espresso, as well as using the coffees in an espresso blend. All in the name of Direct Trade. For an operation as small as theirs, I guess a limited number of coffees is the only way to sure fire the quality of the relation they themselves set the standard for! Admirable and impressive. And so were our coffees.
Later that night we returned to Jaegersbrogade to a restaurant called Relae. We arrived five minutes late, and were greeted with a sneer. And besides the food, it was basically down hill from there. Apparently the restaurant have a rather minimalistic and simple decoration philosophy in order to offer high quality food at a lower price. Food was excellent, and the chefs came out introducing each dish in a likeable manner. But the wine waiter (reluctant to call him sommelier) was slack, with an uptight attitude that didn’t match. Throughout the whole meal, I was glancing at the Finca Vista Hermosa they had on the menu, roasted by their neighbours across the road. Since dessert took forever (the chef had already changed into his private clothes), it was close to the midnight when I approached the, well, let’s call him the maitre’d, about coffee. What we got back was a simple; “You’ll have to be quick then, cause we’re about to close”. Coffee arrived, French pressed, and very disappointing. If looking at the food alone, it was brilliant and at a good price, but this was the only downer in otherwise brilliant Danish hospitality.
For the following days, I had three must visits for coffee; the new Coffee Collective location at Torvehallerne, Kent Kaffe and Democratic.
Kent Kaffe didn’t look much for the world from the outside, but the syphon I had was an amazing treat (they use filter paper and not cloth, something that really inspired me to re evaluate my method in syphon brewing) together with a brilliant smörrebröd (Danish slow-fast food). I also got the chance to meet the coffee guy on the premises, Samuli, who was preparing for a slide show and lecture on his visit to Central America. Amazing guy, can’t wait to go back there!
Standing in line for ten minutes at the latest Coffee Collective outlet, without the line even moving, says a bit about the attraction it has on the Copenhagen crowd. We actually didn’t go through with ordering cause it was too late, and too long a line. But I had a glance at the premises, and it is one of the most impressive, yet simple, operations I’ve seen in coffee. To me, the approach reminded a bit of Stumptown New York, where it’s just fast service and a lay out that seems to optimize the work flow needed. Still, with our very tight schedule, service wasn’t fast enough, but I definitely want to get back there to try it out!
Instead we went to Democratic Coffee, situated in the library, serving coffee from Swedish roasters Koppi. On this weekend day, proprietor Oliver was a one man army, giving us the option to go espresso based, or filter coffee. I had the espresso, which was very good. Again, a lovely passionate coffee person that was inspiring to meet. When the library was closing, we were invited to stay as friends of the establishment, and he served us some wonderful pastries, made on the premises. I simply had to buy the t-shirt 😉
Saturday night saw us visit my old mate, and Kura regular, Elias from Tiki Room at the Tiki inspired place he works right now; The Brass Monkey. Such a treat to see some surf bands from Copenhagen and Germany rock the crowd. Elias treated me to a Guatemalan rum that was very unlike any rum I’ve had before (I really don’t like rum, this was more like any given fine spirit). What a great way to end a weekend in Copenhagen!
NP: D A D Sleeping My Day Away