The series which almost never actually comes on a Friday but is named so because alliteration is fun!
I find that one of the best ways to get to know a city is by going to its coffee shops. This is partially because I am a loud and proud caffeine addict, and thus, cafes are a staple part of my day. But also, the way coffee shops look — whether modern, rustic, quaint, or punk — is a good indication of the aesthetic of a city. They’re the places where locals just act like locals — no frills — and where you’ll likely feel the most like a local yourself.
I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece today to visit two of my friends from school, Owen and Lydia, and our first stop was Pumpkin Cafe. If the name wasn’t indication enough, it’s a cozy hole-in-the-wall, adorned with funky decorations from various countries. The squash-yellow breezeway, sun cascading onto the floor, open doors and windows, and asymmetric array of chairs and tables all express that Thessaloniki is a free-spirited place: a reflection of its bright, spring weather.
The cafes in Stockholm are quite different. Because of cold winters, they’re cozier, and rather than feeling like a natural extension of the outdoors, they’re an insular world of their own. Dim light provides them intimacy and sets the scene for fika with friends. Fika is a word that will become a part of your daily vocabulary as a Stockholmer: it’s the practice of taking a sit-down coffee-and-pastry break with a friend, colleague, or family member, and a way to connect with old/new people on a daily basis.
This series comes out of a genuine desire for you to have bomb fikas while you’re in the land of them. Stockholm has some of the greatest coffee and pastries you’ll come across in your lifetime. If you’re reading this as a future DIS student, I implore you to take a new friend to fika upon arriving. But take caution: my opinions on these coffee shops may be highly controversial and unrepresentative of what my next door neighbor might think.
In true Chopped fashion, here are the categories from which I will judge Stockholm’s cafes:
Semlas are probably the most controversial dessert among DIS students. You either love it, or you hate it. But it’s a staple of Sweden — a cardamom bun with almond paste, filled with whipped cream. I like them on occasion, but only the best coffee shops make a good one. Scored out of 10.
Since my middle school days of making community coffee in a Keurig and pouring it over ice, I’ve come a long way in knowing what a good latte should taste like. Scored out of 10.
Can you study there? Is there good seating and an overall productive vibe? Scored out of 10.
Does it seem like the setting in which a great friendship is born? Cafes that have both study-ability and fika-ability are going above and beyond. Scored out of 10.
Mysig is the Swedish quality of coziness, for which these coffee shops are unique against those around the world. Scored out of 10.
A reflection of how much I recommend you go there! Scored out of 10.
Stay tuned. By the end of the semester, I’ll pin the post of my favorite coffee shop in Stockholm (a coveted award indeed).
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