Drink coffee like a Norwegian
Written by Alyssa Nilsen
Norway is the second-most coffee-loving nation in the world; only Finns drink more coffee than Norwegians do. According to kaffe.no, 13 million cups of coffee are drunk daily, which might explain how Norwegians survive the cold and dark winters and stay awake on bright summer nights. But coffee is not only a tool in staying awake; it’s an important part of everyday kos, of social interactions both professional and personal; it’s essential on hikes and when going skiing, and it’s the same source of comfort that tea is to many Britons. As a result, several coffee chains and specialist coffee shops line the streets of Oslo, some of them internationally recognised as among the best in the world. New York Times’ Oliver Strand wrote in a 2011 article that, “Oslo is to coffee what San Sebastian or Copenhagen is to food: it’s where you go to get your mind blown.” Norwegians typically like light-roast, single-origin coffee, and most Norwegians drink their coffee black and freshly ground. No fuss, just coffee.
Walking into Fuglen (‘the bird’) feels like walking into someone’s livingroom at the turn of the ’50s/’60s. Vintage furniture and decor, a large wooden counter and a narrow yet spacious layout set Fuglen apart from all the modern, minimalist coffee shops of the city. If you fall in love with any of the furniture, no need to leave it behind as it’s all for sale. At Fuglen, you can get magnificently brewed coffee and sink into a lounge chair with a book, or opt for a bar stool by the window to watch the world float by outside. At 7pm, the coffee machine closes down and the place turns into a cocktail bar with both traditional and original cocktails. Fuglen also has two coffee shops in Japan.
Fuglen is a ten-minute walk away from Stortinget T metro station, served by all lines. Trams # 11, 12 and 18 stop at Tinghuset, a four-minute walk away.
Not all coffee chains need to be poor quality. Stockfleths with its 125-year history has been the starting point of many of the city’s biggest baristas, such as previously mentioned Tim Wendelboe and Fuglen’s Einar Kleppe Holthe. They are a large part of the Norwegian coffee culture and responsible for several trends in Norwegian coffee consumption. Aiming to be the best coffee-brewing chain in the world, Stockfleths offers an experience that is nothing like what you might expect at generic chains in Britain or elsewhere. Stockfleths has 12 coffee shops in the Oslo area, and its line of coffee is for sale all over the country.
Located near the river of Akerselva, World Barista Champion and World Cup Tasters Champion Tim Wendelboe’s self-titled espresso bar is a staple on the Norwegian coffee scene. With its own in-shop microroastery and its own line of coffee for sale, its reputation extends far beyond the borders of Norway. Wendelboe and his team have won endless amounts of awards and competitions nationally and internationally, and New York Times’ Oliver Strand noted: “It feels like a neighborhood shop, but it’s run like a Michelin-starred restaurant.” There is limited seating inside, so be prepared for a takeaway coffee to enjoy on the go.
Tim Wendelboe is a 20-minute walk away from the Central Station, or you can get trams # 11, 12 and 13 to Olaf Ryes Plass, a three-minute walk away.
If a quirky vibe and style of a place is important to you, then there are plenty of themed coffee shops and cafés in Oslo that cater as much to the eyes as they do to the tastebuds. Retrolykke at Grünerløkka is one of these. Part coffee shop, part retro and vintage shop, Retrolykke is a colourful jewel with shelves full of old kitchenware, glassware, accessories, lamps, furniture and decorations. Sit down with some waffles and a coffee or hot chocolate and take in the surroundings, or have a chat with the shop owner, who is as charming and colourful as the shop itself.
Trams # 11, 12 and 13 stop at Olaf Ryes plass, a four-minute walk away.
Liebling is another quirky coffee shop with an in-store shop selling books, gadgets, decor and clothes. Inspired by Berlin, the place offers German as well as Norwegian drinks and food, and its coffee is delivered freshly roasted from local Grünerløkka café and roastery The Supreme Roastworks. On a sunny day, there is outdoor seating out front, and if it’s sunny enough to call for utepils, head to the back of the building where St. Pauli Biergarten serves German beers and small dishes in an eclectic and colourful garden.
Trams # 11, 12 and 13 stop at Birkelunden, a two minute walk away.
For good deals on transport and experiences, buy an Oslo Pass lasting 24, 48 or 72 hours. The pass includes travel on all public transport across the city as well as suburbs and districts (Oslo as well as Lillestrøm, Nittedal, Asker, Ski, Nesodden and Drøbak), and includes free access to several museums and attractions, as well as discounted restaurants, sightseeing and activities. The Oslo pass is available online below.
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