Christmas and Coffee in the Nordics: Part Two

In the long Nordic winters, coffee and comfort go hand in hand.

BY JOSEPH PHELAN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Featured image by Razvan Mirel via Unsplash

Editor’s note: Yesterday, we released the first part of our series looking at coffee and the holidays in Nordic countries. Today, we continue with part two.

The Hygge Life

With the desire for Christmas coziness in Nordic countries comes the inclination to indulge. Coffee shops in the region have fully embraced this notion, going out of their way to create environments that are at once comfortable and infused with unique festive cheer.   

“At our café, we have a particular cookie we make only during the holiday season which our customers love,” says Skyler Rowland of Next Door Cafe in København, Denmark. “We also host things such as ‘trim-a-tree’ parties, where we serve Christmas drinks like eggnog, and we often invite our guests to come and make Christmas tree decorations to take home.“

The image shows a coffee shop from outside a window. A man works behind the bar. In the background is a Christmas tree lit with white lights.
Outside Next Door Cafe in København, Denmark. Image courtesy of Next Door Cafe.

Skyler’s Next Door Cafe is certainly not alone in attempting to delight customers new and old with limited-edition festive treats. 

“We do a special Julekaffe, which is a Christmas coffee, that we select to be a special thing for December,” says Klaus Thomsen, co-founder of the Coffee Collective in Frederiksberg, Denmark. “We choose one that we think is Christmas-y somehow. It can be aromas that remind us of Christmas spices, or a special process yielding a profile we think matches the flavors of Christmas well. From our own bakery we also make seasonal pastries with Christmas spices to complement the coffee experience. Additionally, we try to help people get the best out of their bean at home, which is especially important around Christmas, when people are brewing not only for themselves, but also for relatives and guests.” 

Two blue and white ceramic mugs of coffee sit on a wooden ledge overlooking a yard full of snow and evergreen trees several yards away. In the background, snow-capped mountain peaks.
Norwegian coffee at home. Image courtesy of Joseph Phelan.

“In Prolog, we try to make the shop much more cozy at Christmas,” says Jonas Gehl of Prolog Coffee Bar in København, Denmark. “We also like to add some humor to our Christmas celebration, as we think this is also a foundational part of getting through the dark winter. We have a giant inflatable Santa Claus, for example. In previous years we have had Christmas tree sales in front of the coffee bar. We do whatever will bring a smile to people’s faces—if we can achieve this at the coffee bar, then we have achieved our goal.”

Two books arranged on a table with a blue and white mug and a pair of spectacles. One book is Little Women by Laura Ingalls Wilder; the one on top is Hygge: The Danish way to live well, by Meik Wiking. It is covered in traditional Nordic illustrations of birds, a teapot, a candle, greenery.
Hygge is a Danish phrase referring to a sense of coziness and well-being, and is considered a large part of Danish culture. Image courtesy of Joseph Phelan.

A Welcome Gift

More recently, coffee has become a popular choice of gift during the Christmas period. Specialty-coffee is now a very big deal across the Nordics, and with increasing numbers of people now well versed in coffee culture and the drink’s abundant varieties, there is a growing tradition of giving favorite blends to loved ones in the form of a Christmas present. 

“Christmas is the time when families come together and you meet with friends for social gatherings. We love celebrating Christmas here (in Denmark), and a nice bag of specialty coffee has been an increasingly popular gift to a host or hostess. It’s a more original present than a box of chocolate or flowers, and people know it’ll be appreciated,” notes Klaus. 

In front of a Christmas tree lit with white lights, some orange slices, cinnamon sticks, pine cones and a white mug that says merry Xmas. The mug has a picture of a reinderr, some trees, and mountains.
Coffee has become a welcome gift at Christmas. Image by Marta Filipczyk via Unsplash.

And, according to Klaus, Christmas is also the perfect time to treat oneself after a year of hard work. “I always make sure to have something extra special to enjoy in those days, typically a Gesha from either Hacienda La Esmeralda in Panama or Finca Takesi in Bolivia for my Christmas morning coffee. However, in the evening I like something a little more powerful, so I might go for a good Kenyan. This is very traditional in Denmark.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joseph Phelan (he/him) is a freelance journalist based in London. While most of his free time is spent scouring his adopted city in search of the best coffee haunts, he also enjoys any opportunity to listen to live music and makes a point of venturing to Iceland at least twice a year. 

About baristamagazine 1838 Articles
Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.