Copenhagen Coffee

Copenhagen. City of towers. City of cycles. City of architecture. City of shared space. City of food. City of coffee.

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I visited this friendly, sleepy, delightful city for the first time in April with my family. Coffee was not the main purpose of our trip but, of course, we sought out the best cafes and the best coffee while we were there. Copenhagen is a small city and the centre is served by around half a dozen quality coffeeshops although there is plenty of decent coffee in the outskirts.

Copenhagen is fairly unique in being in a city so completely dominated by one progressive roaster. And what a roaster! My experiences of Coffee Collective were of a company completely focussed on excellence, that talented people enjoyed working for, and one that constantly reviewed its performance to continue to be outstanding. I met baristas working at Coffee Collective from all over the world, and customers came from all corners too. Coffee Collective have three superb cafes in the Copenhagen and supply 20 or so more both in the centre and the outskirts.

Coffee Collective were founded in 2007 by 2006 WBC champion Klaus Thomsen (whom I was recently delighted to meet in London), 2008 World Cup Tasting Champion Casper Engel Rasmussen, Architect/Barista Linus Törsäter, and Roaster Peter Dupont. Their philosophy has always been to continue to improve and innovate rather than stand still. Coffee Collective have always been committed to ethical, direct trade and working hard to improve quality in all areas of coffee development from farm to cup, seeing the process as development in three areas: growing, roasting and extraction. Coffee Collective has strict requirements for Direct Trade and builds personal relationships with growers with visits to farms at least annually.

I only visited three cafes serving coffee other than Coffee Collective’s and I’ll discuss them later. I certainly didn’t miss variety as each of their cafes had a choice of espresso blends and a number of filter options. I didn’t even try Copenhagen’s indigenous coffee chains such as Baresso who are everywhere (with dark roasts, syrups and lots of milk)…from what I heard they are a cut above Starbucks though who were very rare to find in Copenhagen.

The cafes

I had heard via Dear Cofee I Love You DCILY that Europa 1989 on Amagertorv served Solberg and Hansen but the cafe looked very grand and situated in a tourist area and I didn’t venture in on this budget sensitive trip. One to come back to for sure…

Coffee Collective Jaegersborggade

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Their original roastery/cafe, this location still roasts espresso for consumption here. It is set on a private road surrounded by fascinating shops and bakeries. The area is full of independent businesses. The cafe was buzzing. Seeing the lines I promised to return, I never did but will be back there soon. The place is dominated by the Probat and there is no bar between customers and baristas. All are one here.

Coffee Collective Torvehallerne

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Torvehallerne is like the Borough Market of Copenhagen. It’s a space with outdoor and mostly indoor stalls serving great food and selling artisan products. It’s where we went to sample great smorrebrod, stone age food at Paleo, duck confit, even great fish and chips and pizza. It’s also where Coffee Collective have one of their cafes. This location has a long elegant bar, reminiscent of G and B Coffee in LA. This place is busy but incredibly efficient. I noticed the Danes were very much into their coffee and a much wider percentage of the general population appreciated high quality coffee here than in London or many other cities. Also there was little of no sign of decaf, unless I missed it. The staff efficiency was something to see – so many coffees served in such a short time and baristas had time to discuss espresso choices and serve filter coffees too. The efficient service systems reminded me of Monmouth Borough Market but the coffee was in a different class. Indeed I met an Anglo-Norwegian barista there I’d recognised from Borough Market and also knowledgeable Danish and American baristas.

There are plenty of seats here at elegant wooden bars and by now I’d discovered Espresso blend #1 – Ethiopian Yukro natural + Kenyan Kieni + Colombian Desarollo – an intense coffee with a great grapefruit acidity and a mild funkiness. I alternated between this and the Espresso #2 – Brazilian Daterra and washed Ethiopian Yukro which had notes of cherries and dark chocolate but with a lovely acidity in the finish.

Coffee Collective Godthåbsvej

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Coffee Collective Godthåbsvej opened its doors in June 2012 and this is a quite wonderful space. It is set a short bus or cycle ride from Central London in the Frederiksberg district. Set just off a busy street it has tables outside and dedicated cycle parking. Inside are roasting, training and office areas and a long cafe space. You can sit at the bar and chat with the informed, friendly, super-efficient baristas or relax at one of around half a dozen wooden tables. That efficiency I mentioned is something to marvel at as I often saw one barista combining taking orders, advising customers, conversing with me, clearing tables, making espresso, pouring milk, making filter coffee, delivering coffee to table, clearing tables, taking payment and all this while appearing calm and relaxed. Staff seemed happy to work for Coffee Collective. Peter Ebdrup, bar manager served me on my first visit and was happy to tell me a great deal about Coffee Collective. He explained that reverse osmosis water filtration is as important in Copenhagen as in London as the water is alkaline and heavy in limescale. On another visit, Finnish barista Mikaela talked me through my coffee choices and regaled me with coffee stories of Helsinki and beyond.

Staff make coffees on a two group Strada, using a pair of Mazzers for espresso and a Mahlkonig EK43 for filters. Coffees I enjoyed here included the two espressos mentioned earlier, an iced Kieni (delicious blackcurrant), a Finca Vista Hermosa (green apple and almond) and a Desarollo (jammy mandarin juice).

Democratic Coffee

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Another really delightful cafe, Democratic Coffee recently switched from Danish roaster Great Coffee to sublime Swedish roaster Drop. Set in the centre of Copenhagen it serves a long elegant bar but also has seating it serves in the main public library next door. This is how mainstream great coffee is in Copenhagen – the main city library is served by a first class independent cafe!

Barista Nobuaki Matsui pulled shot after shot of delicious espresso and poured identical exceptional latte art in coffee after coffee while we were there. I tried a v60 (or was it a Kalita Wave) of Workye Shallo as I’d enjoyed the Notes roast of this but the Drop was stunning, and dramatically different. Where the Notes roast brought out apricot jam notes, jasmine tea, bergamot and other floral tones, the Drop roast while also intensely floral brought out masses of red berry fruit. Nobuaki and other staff were super friendly (as indeed most people in Copenhagen we met were) and customers and staff came together to give us their recommendations and directions.

Copenhagen Coffee Lab

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Near the Danish parliament, Copenhagen Coffee Lab was the second cafe I visited serving other coffee than Coffee Collective. Like quite a few Copenhagen cafes it is set in a cellar with a few seats at ground level. I had only time for a brief visit but enjoyed a dark, chocolate-like espresso. They roast their own coffee on the small roaster in the cafe and when I visited had on offer a Brazilian Fazienda Reinha and an Ethiopian Gayo. So many cafes here had a choice of two espressos rather than offering decaf.

As well as their three lovely cafes, Coffee Collective also supply around 20 coffeeshops in greater Copenhagen so you’re never far from a good shot. I visited a couple of these within the centre of Copenhagen too. While the coffee holds no surprises, the quality is good and each place appears to have its own unique charm and character.

Phil’s Kaffe Kaelder

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Phil’s Kaffe Kaelder was the first place we visited in Copenhagen. It is another tint cellar place set in a narrow street just North of the Stroget, Copenhagen’s ritzy pedestrianised shopping street. This was newly open and serving Coffee Collective’s Espresso #2. Phil Fisker, the owner, pulled me a delicious, thick double espresso with chocolate cherry notes.

Det Vide Hus

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Another place serving Coffee Collective, Det Vide Hus is famous for its homemade ice cream and smoothies. It’s near Rosenborg Castle and not too far from Torvehallerne so when I visited one time and found a little queue I didn’t head back. It also had the feel of needing a little renovation.

So there you go! Copenhagen is a great coffee destination and only a short train journey from Malmo and Helsingborg in Sweden so you could conceivably visit Koppi while you are there and make it a perfect trip. We found friendly, sleepy little Copenhagen the perfect family break for its food, cafes, sights, markets, architecture, walking and cycling. Yes it’s expensive but that just takes a little planning and thought before emptying your wallet. Use the supermarkets for a meal or two a day or eat an excellent, inexpensive meal or two at Torvehallerne but don’t stint on the coffee!

Restaurant Coffee

Copenhagen’s restaurant scene is renowned and a couple of places have started to take care with the coffee they serve…

Noma is world renowned and since this year have entered a partnership with Tim Wendelboe on develping their coffee service. DCILY reports that Coffee Collective provides coffee and training to the Michelin starred restaurants Geranium, Kadeau, Kiin Kiin and Relæ in Copenhagen. Excitingly, Swedish roasters Koppi are working with Bror in Copenhagen.

Europa 1989
Amagertorv 1, 1160 København K, Denmark

Coffee Collective Jaegersborggade
Jægersborggade 10, 2200 København, Denmark

Coffee Collective Torvehallerne
Vendersgade 6D, 1363 København K, Denmark

Coffee Collective Godthåbsvej
Godthåbsvej 34B, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Democratic Coffee
Krystalgade 15, 1172 København, Denmark

Phil’s Kaffe Kælder
Klosterstræde 8 1157, København K

Copenhagen Coffee Map

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3 thoughts on “Copenhagen Coffee

  1. Nice write-up, Phil!

    We had the coffee at Geranium the other day after a 22-course lunch. We had the same bean served as an Aeropress at Coffee Collective earlier in the day, and the coffee served at Geranium (in a Kalita carafe) tasted very different – to the point of over-extraction, When we spoke to the head waiter, he told us that, yes, Coffee Collective had indeed provided their staff with training, but that Geranium had decided to use more coffee beans (about 3 to 4g more for 500 ml of water, if I recall correctly) to make their coffee as they felt that diners needed something stronger after such a heavy meal. He also added that their diners were used to that kind of coffee, which also added to their decision.

    • Thanks…strange decision. Personally after 22 courses I’d want something light but ..hey…I’m hardly typical. Great that restaurants in Copenhagen are using good coffee but a shame they seem to be using it to try to imitate bad coffee

  2. Hi Phil,

    Nice round up. I’ve just come back from Copenhagen and would recommend adding Forloren Espresso to the list (serving Hasbean and Danish roaster, La Cabra) and new start-up Prolog, who are out in the Meatpacking District. Also, Democratic now roasts its own coffee (lovely place too).

    Thanks,
    Brian.

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