Five Lessons about Coffee Culture in the Nordics

How do Norwegians like their coffee? the answer is to infinity and beyond. Coffee is a central part of social life and its characteristics go further than just keeping you awake. They keep you company 🙂

The cream that goes with coffee in Norway comes from Tine.

The cream that goes with coffee in Norway comes from Tine.

Norwegians like their coffee :

  • Black. Although most Norwegians like their coffee without the white stuff, there is a dedicated cream for it, available in all supermarkets. I love it because it has the perfect thickness and with just a little drip, I get the caramel tone I like to see in my cup.

  • To go. You can buy coffee anywhere in the streets of Oslo. From 7-Elevens (if you like sock-juice) to Kaffebrenneriet (a coffee shop chain that sells Salvadorian coffee among other award-winning blends), you can boost your blood sugar at every corner. I’ve even seen people drinking coffee while riding their bike!

  • All day every day, especially at the office. Nine out of ten (adult) Norwegians drink coffee, up to 4-5 cups a day. Maybe even more. This amounts to 4 billion cups of coffee per year (for a total population of 5 million). Some research shows that coffee activates the motivational areas in the brain. I didn’t even know we had any, but I can tell you that if coffee is not free at the office, that place will never reach a good position on the list of “Best Places to Work”, no matter how well they pay.

  • To meet new people. Coffee is the drink you have in the middle of the week if you meet a friend after work. It’s also what you offer an impromptu visitor. You cannot NOT have coffee at home. Not that people drop by your place spontaneously every so often but simply because you never know when you’ll need it. And yes, even if you do not drink coffee your self, you must have it in the shelves!

  • Avec“. It is not uncommon that after a good meal, the waiter brings your coffee even if you haven’t finished your wine. There is also something called “Kaffe Avec” which means that the coffee comes with a glass of cognac or other kind of digestif. Next time you order at a fancy restaurant, try this: “I will have a coffee without avec please”. And I hope your waiter is french 😉




5 Responses to Five Lessons about Coffee Culture in the Nordics

  1. joe March 20, 2014 at 01:43 #

    You could also mention that Norway has a former barista world champion, Tim Wendelboe. In his shop there are many special blends for the coffee connoiseur.

    Just to add to the coffee madness 🙂

    • Gisèle March 22, 2014 at 10:37 #

      Joe, you are absolutely right. I love Tim’s coffee shop in Grünerløkka (on Grüners gate even!:)).

  2. Bill June 25, 2014 at 15:35 #

    Such a beautiful country, I have visited three times. However, for a country that you profess to love coffee, why do they not have any Starbucks shops? Rather exclusionary, I say.

    • Gaëlle July 11, 2014 at 15:45 #

      Hi Bill, sorry for not replying you earlier. There are Starbucks Shops in Norway, check them out on

    • Tom M Jensen July 28, 2014 at 23:33 #

      Actually we have, in Bogstadveien and at the airport, OSL GARDERMOEN. But Starbucks is not Norwgian you know. Er don’t need them. Simple as that.