Lola A. Åkerström gets some insight into Stockholm’s strong coffee culture from professional barista Jesper Bood.
There’s no shortage of cafés in Stockholm – from outdoor Parisian style cafés lining narrow sidewalks in glitzy Östermalm and the cobble-stoned streets of Gamla stan (old town) to more hole-in-the-wall local favorites in Kungsholmen, and beloved fika institutions operating since the early 1900s.
Some of the trendier, offbeat coffeehouses can be found on the island of Södermalm which was once a slum district for the poor during the 17th century and now remains the city’s heartbeat in terms of diversity, vintage shopping, artsy cafés, ethnic cuisine, and bohemian flare.
But more than just another European city lined with cafés, Stockholm’s coffee culture runs deep. According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), Sweden is one of the top ten coffee-consuming countries. Swedes drink roughly 9-10 kilograms of coffee per capita annually as estimated by the government agency, Statistics Sweden.
Stockholm’s residents have successfully integrated eco-friendly living and a genuine care for the environment with the contemporary style and modernism Sweden is known worldwide for.
From individual household recycling to public transport running on sustainable fuels to restaurants and cafés which serve organic and fair trade ingredients on their menu and play host to young dads on paternity leave with their baby strollers called “lattepappor” (Latte pappas/dads), this social awareness is what netted Stockholm the first ever European Green Capital award from the European Union.
“We see a strong wish among customers in general to see all foods and beverages being part of a craftsmanship,” shares Jesper Bood, a professional barista. He started his career in Perth, Australia, at Ristretto Espresso Specialists in 2008 and since then, he’s been in Stockholm for a couple of years handling customer relations for Da Matteo, a Swedish company which specializes in specialty roast coffees.
“Coffee as a fresh produce is a natural part of that interest. [Swedish] Society as a whole is attracted to this approach – transparency and closeness to the produce,” highlights Bood. Da Matteo has an open production system where members of the public are invited to see the roasting process behind coffee they drink. The company buys its coffee from environmentally conscious growers, and their home coffee roasters are made with eco-friendly stainless steel.
We caught up with Jesper Bood to give us some insight into the city’s coffee craze.
STS: So what do you do for da Matteo?
JB: On a day to day basis I work in the shop, make sure our coffees are tasting great, training staff, and educating about our coffees. I also work with customer relations in Stockholm with our clients. They are truly great people, putting out our product with love and affection, as well as pairing it with their own spectacular food and treats.
What’s your/their philosophy when it comes to coffee?
We see da Matteo as an experience, where there’s a story at every meeting to be told. The café is a meeting place, and each meeting is unique. Essential for us is also the craft of roasting, brewing and experiencing coffee.
What have you noticed over the years in terms of Stockholm’s coffee culture?
I think for some years there has been a needed focus on coffee as a sole produce, and I think now we’re seeing more shops looking over their overall product as being equally important. Going to “specialty” cafés today assures you that there has been extra effort put into the details of all things served. That is somewhat a new way of thinking of the coffee shop as an overall experience.
What are the new hot coffee/cafe trends right now?
Fresh produce is becoming more and more essential. For some time, [artisan] bread was the new fad. That is unlikely to disappear though, but we will see other things added to that list. Juices, smoothies, salads etc. that also make specialty cafés a reliable and good value lunch alternative.
Where do you see this culture headed in the future?
I think without a doubt, we’ll see a lot of places [current cafés] extending their revenues with evening options of the same quality – be it cocktails, wines, or craft beers. There is a necessity in creating multiple outlets in order to create better revenue for independent traders.
If you ask me, I think the trend in cafés will be more towards a total experience rather than just coffee focus, or just focus on sourdough bread, or just cupcakes.
There will be stronger focus on quality taste experiences.