When it comes to coffee, Norway is a nation that knows its joe. According to a recent poll by Euromonitor, every Norwegian person consumes an average of 7.2kg of coffee per year, placing it second in terms of per capita coffee consumption (only the caffeine-crazy Finns drink more). In a country where the sun doesn’t remember to get out of bed for a good proportion of the year, it’s perhaps not all that surprising that most Norwegians depend on a good, strong caffeine fix to make it through the long midsummer days and even longer midwinter nights.
But in terms of coffee connoisseurship, nowhere can match the capital city of Oslo. From small-batch artisan roasters to specialist espresso bars run by former barista champions, this is a city which runs on coffee – so here’s our pick of the best places in Oslo to down a cup of premium java.
Oslo’s original coffee pioneer, Tim Wendelboe is also the nation’s most decorated barista – he scooped the top prize at the World Barista Championships in 2004, and has been named Norway’s national barista champion a record four times. So it makes perfect sense that his coffee shop and roastery in Grünerløkka is the epicentre of Oslo’s specialist coffee scene.
Opened back in 2007, Tim’s shop was the first place in Oslo to roast its own beans, allowing its customers a true bean-to-brew experience. A decade later it’s still the place to taste the city’s finest coffee; Tim favours a trademark ‘light roast’ for all his beans to ensure clarity and consistency of flavour. Sadly, he only puts in occasional stints behind the counter these days – he’s too busy running his newly-relocated roastery, and his coffee consulting skills are in high demand around the world. Fortunately, his barista team are the best in town. If you only stop for one coffee in Oslo, make it here.
Opened in 2013 by supremo barista Odd-Steinar Tøllefsenis, this is another haunt for coffee aficionados in hip Grünerløkka. With its urban-chic aesthetic, complemented by a compact roaster installed at the back of the shop, it’s a place that puts the emphasis on coffee, rather than cafe comforts (there’s hardly any room to sit down, so this is definitely not a place to lounge around for hours on your laptop). There’s the usual choice of espresso drinks, plus a myriad of filter methods – Aeropress, V60 and Chemex are all on offer here. Order your macchiato or cold-press to go, then head down the street to browse Grünerløkka’s vintage shops, record stores and beer bars.
This renowned coffee joint lies north of the city centre, on the edge of the green, peaceful park of Sankt Hanshaugen. It’s another place with impressive coffee credentials: it belongs to Robert Thoresen, winner of the first World Barista Championships back in 2000. Beans are supplied by Robert’s own roastery, Kaffa, so freshness is 100% guaranteed. Throw in some retro décor – wooden bar, mosaic walls, minimalist stools, chrome lamps – and you have a stylish and thoroughly Scandi coffee house.
A sister establishment to Java, also owned by Robert Thoresen, this elegant cafe (moccaoslo.no) is on the west side of the city in the well-to-do neighbourhood of Briskeby. It makes an ideal coffee stop after visiting the Royal Palace, which is just a short walk away through the tree-lined paths of Slottsparken. The coffee is fantastic, the pastries are delicious and you can buy fresh-roasted beans from Thoresen’s Kaffa roastery, as well as premium Kusmi Teas. It’s usually quieter than the better-known coffee shops closer into town – ideal if you prefer to drink your java in peace.
As far back as the 1960s, Fuglen was serving up top-notch coffee to a discerning Oslo clientele. Half-a-century later, this elegant cafe-bar still makes a cracking place for a cup; it sources its beans from several different roasters around the city, giving it an overview of Oslo’s coffee offering. It’s somewhere between a coffee house and an antique shop: it’s stocked floor to ceiling with a cornucopia of antiques, design pieces and objets d’art, many of which are available for sale (if your luggage allowance will allow, of course). After dark, it morphs into a slinky cocktail bar.
Once upon a time, the strongest stimulant most self-respecting cyclists allowed themselves was a strong espresso. The connection between coffee and cycling remains a strong one, and this hip cafe (pelotonoslo.no) exploits the relationship to the fullest. Vintage frames, old jerseys and bits of cycling ephemera adorn the walls, and the cafe has its own bike workshop – so you can get your fixie fine-tuned while you sit back to enjoy a cappuccino. It also runs its own cycling club, which operates regular runs around the city – a great way to meet like-minded bike folk.
Coffee, craft beer and vintage vinyl are the three passions that underpin this rock-and-roll coffee shop in up-and-coming Vulkan. Part record shop, part pub, part espresso bar, it’s the brainchild of Kristian Moldskred, who honed his skills at Oslo’s Kaffa roastery before running his own espresso joints in Berlin. In contrast to many of the city’s coffee shops, this is very deliberately designed as a place to hang out – there’s loads of space to sit, and you could while away days flicking through the record racks. There’s a choice of brew strengths – one for the average drinker, another for the extreme espressoist – but decaff is definitely off the menu (the cafe’s motto is death before decaff).
This cafe offers coffee with a conscience: it’s run by an organisation called Erlik, which publishes a Big Issue style magazine that’s sold on Oslo’s streets by disadvantaged people. Its new coffee shop on Akersgata offers barista training and employment for people looking to turn their lives around and get back into work. It’s an admirable enterprise, and the coffee is great, too. Naturally, you can also buy some house-roasted beans to take home – a perfect coffee souvenir that also gives something back to the city.