There’s something about (speciality) coffee and books in Copenhagen. First there was the latest addition, Prolog Coffee Bar, a café and magazine shop, plus old hands, Forloren Espresso, replete with magazines. And there’s today’s Coffee Spot, Democratic Coffee, sharing its space with the city’s central library. You can’t get more books than that! You can sit in the coffee bar itself, which is long and thin, but which can be quite noisy, or decamp to the library, where there’s a choice of tables and comfy armchairs in the windows.
Everything in Democratic is made from scratch in the kitchen behind the counter, including the bread and pastries. Everything except the coffee that is, which is roasted off-site on a shared roaster, Democratic roasting two or three times a month. There are two single-origins on espresso, one for black coffee, one for milk, plus two more on filter, one available as a hand-poured V60, the other on bulk-brew.
The coffee changes every two-three months, Democratic buying a 700kg pallet with three/four different green beans. Once they’re gone, Democratic moves onto the next set of beans. Democratic doesn’t have different roast profiles for espresso/filter, regularly swapping which bean is on which method.
Outside of the Lisbon branch of the Copenhagen Coffee Lab, my first ever visit to a Danish coffee shop (and indeed, to a Scandinavian one) was to Prolog Coffee Bar, Copenhagen’s newest speciality coffee shop, which opened just over three months ago. This was more convenience than anything else: I’d just arrived from Dublin and of all the places I’d been recommended, it was the closest (a 15-minute walk) to my hotel where I’d be staying for work for the rest of the week. However, with last Sunday afternoon free, I was determined to explore!
Prolog isn’t a huge place, occupying what was an old bookshop and retaining something of its character, as well as still selling magazines. The owners, Jonas and Sebastian, work at the shop and I met both of them. Jonas, who used to roast at Democratic Coffee, now does the roasting for Prolog, while Sebastian’s also learning the trade. At the moment, things are small-scale, with just an Ethiopian Nano Chala on espresso, joined on filter by a Kenyan, both through the V60. There’s also a range of iced-coffee, plus an innovative selection of food and food products. In that respect, Prolog’s no ordinary coffee shop!
The Cow & Co Cafe started life in Liverpool as a design store in 2009. Over time, an espresso machine found its way into the store and, before long, customers were coming in as much for the coffee as for the various gifts and products on the shelves. Slowly, the design shop morphed into what you see today, the Cow & Co Cafe, a speciality coffee shop, with Cornwall’s Origin Coffee Roasters on espresso and, for somewhere so small, an impressive food and cake selection.
It still retains its roots as a design store though, with a large set of retail shelves, while there’s also a rack of art, design and lifestyle magazines. Think of a smaller version of Manchester’s Fig + Sparrow crossed with London’s Kioskafé. The coffee offering and magazines are more on a par with Kioskafé, while the food and design elements are more in keeping with Fig + Sparrow.
Although it’s only small, Cow & Co packs a lot in, including a lovely mezzanine level, which more than doubles the seating capacity. There’s also a couple of tables outside on the pavement, the dead-end Cleveland Square being a pleasant-enough environment if you want to sit outside.
Kioskafé is the latest venture by Monocle, which London coffee-lovers may know through its café in Marylebone (plus another in Tokyo). Kioskafé differs from its parent in that it’s a hybrid, a cross between a newsgent (the Kiosk part) and a café (the -afé part). On Norfolk Place, it’s also significantly further west (on a central London scale; we’re not talking west, as in Ealing, or, heaven forbid, Bristol, although both are easily reached through nearby Paddington station).
That’s right, Kioskafé is just around the corner from Paddington (and across the road from St Mary’s Hospital), where it joins a small but growing band of speciality coffee shops led by Beany Green and KuPP. Serving Allpress’ Redchurch blend on espresso, Kioskafé also offers some seriously good cinnamon/cardamom buns from Fabrique Bakery, which are well worth trying. I am, by the way, indebted to Adam, a fellow Beany Green addict, for putting me onto these and for reminding me that Kioskafé had actually opened.
An excellent takeaway option if you happen to be passing by, if you’re planning on staying, there’s a choice of a pair of window bars or one of the four tables in the surprisingly comfortable outdoor seating area.