Hugos Kaffe: A funky café in Uppsala

back in my asheville days, i was known as “the fika girl“.

this is all because i decided to do a little blog projectwhich then turned into a little freelance gig with a local, independent newspaper. pretty much a dream come true. i began by deciding to visit 40 different cafés in asheville in 40 days. yes, there are that many cafés in asheville – even more, actually. i started a blog about it, and i wrote a post after each daily visit. my goal was three-fold: 1) to get to know asheville again + to find my new, favorite coffehouses. 2) to bring the swedish concept of fika (an experience of drinking coffee, usually with something sweet to eat. a time to enjoy an intentional cup of coffee with friends, family, or colleagues. an important social part of everyday swedish culture) to asheville. 3) to see how spending 40 days in coffeehouses sipping coffee might change me.

well, 40 days in 40 coffeehouses led to some amazing insights and opportunities. not only did i meet my three goals mentioned above, but i got that freelance job out of it – a chance to write a column called “the fika files” in the mountain xpress, i met tons of amazing people, and i became an official coffee snob. i got to interview café owners, coffee roasters, and write articles about coffee events. i was the go-to person about coffee for a while in asheville, even snagging the nickname “the fika girl”.

cappuchino

i also started a meetup group called “asheville fika“. as people began to read my fika blog, they began to question me if they could meet with me. so, i decided to start publicising an open meeting that would meet at a different café every week from 11:30-1:30, during the lunch hour. my group met every single wednesday, all over asheville, from november 2013 until i left in janauary 2015. actually, they are still meeting! i passed it on to another leader. during these meetings, we simply sat and talked and drank coffee. no agenda. no pressure. no commitments. pure, simple, open community. and we grew from about 4-5 people every week to having over 20 every week. now, mind you, there are actually over 200 people who are now part of this group. not everyone comes every single week, of course, so there are always some regulars and some new people at every single fika meeting.

this was an amazing experience, and i have made some very good friends thanks to the fika group. i cannot wait to meet up with them again the next time i am back in asheville!

in a nutshell, coffee was a huge, huge part of my life in asheville. and my passion for coffee blossomed as i wrote about it, researched it, and met people in the coffee business, or simply chatted with other coffee lovers. it became a spiritual practice for me – sitting down and enjoying coffee with someone. opening doors and possibilities and listening stories of people following their dreams, discovering who they are, and living their passion. everything coffee-related became a chance to connect with others by taking the time to intentionally slow down and, well, connect.

cozy-street-uppsala

svartbãcksgatan: a street in uppsala | photo taken in february

now that i am back in sweden, the motherland of fika, i feel very differently about coffee. i realize that, in asheville, i made the transition from simply being a coffee lover to being someone who truly wishes to learn + share more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into coffee. i find myself wanting to teach people about coffee beans, roasting, making good cups of coffee. and, of course, i want to fill my home with all of the coffee gadgets i can. coffee has truly become a craft, like the craft beer industry in the states, and i think that it is amazing that the coffee culture is growing into a mindful, earth-friendly art form.

speaking of craft coffee, i have also acquired a passion for supporting local, independent coffeehouses and cafés – those seeking to not only provide customers with a good cup of coffee, but those who serve their customers with a purpose. there is nothing like discovering a small, local business, with an owner who absolutely loves what he or she does. and in the coffee business, it is usually not only a love of coffee for them, but also a love for connecting with people as well.

now that i live in uppsala, sweden, i want to seek out these places here. i want to find the people who burn for their unique, independent place in the business world. those people who not only want to turn a profit, but who want to make a difference in the community as well. because, in my opinion, the best businesses are those that have a mission or a vision to not only make their business successful, but to make their community successful as well. it’s all about working together. that’s the asheville, north carolina way. and i believe that there are plenty of places in uppsala that have the same philosophy.

hugos-kaffe

and guess what? i found one of those places.

i have decided not to do a 40 days of fika: uppsala edition right now. but, i have been searching and trying out difference cafés + coffeehouses, looking for the ones with soul. and, boy have i found one.

hugos kaffe (hugo’s coffee) is a tiny, funky, vintage-inspired coffeeshop on what i have dubbed my favorite street/block in uppsala: svartbäcksgatan. the café called to me the very first time i walked by it. i knew it was not uptight, not fancy, not pretentious, not a like-everything-else kind of place (and swedish cafés can be all of those things). this place had its own soul. it’s own character. it was friendly + relaxed. charming + funky. interested in local, organic, and making a difference. and i got all of that just by passing it.

needless to say, i have been in multiple times now. and i every time i enter, i feel as if i am transported back to asheville. the vibe is incredible. and the owner, well, all of those descriptions above ring true for him as well. this place feels like home to me. and, not home in some nostalgic way (ok, a little bit of nostalgia), but home (asheville) in a unique, independent, local-loving, fair-trade dealing, community-supporting, artsy, eclectic kind of way. hugos kaffe possess all of the things that are good about the coffee community of asheville and other like-minded cities around the world.

funky-cafe

coffee-machine-hugos

hugos-kaffe-cafe

poster-hugos-kaffe

this poster says that if you bring you own mug, you get your coffee for half price, and that it’s all about thinking green. 

for these kinds of coffeehouses, it’s all about creating a better community, making a difference in the world, and serving good coffee in their own unique way. and, after visiting cafés like that, i do not want to go into places that are stale, similar to each other, and do not think so much about what they are doing. i always seek out a place that creates a coffee culture.

so, coffee lovers, if you live in uppsala or visit uppsala, then by all means visit hugos kaffe! i promise you that you will feel welcomed + cared for, and you can sip on your coffee with the knowledge that your cup is making a difference in the lives of the coffee farmers whose beans fill your cup, the lives of the coffee roasters down in malmö + in your own community.

and, who knows, perhaps i will start a new meetup group here in uppsala?! perhaps we will meet at hugos once a week?! stay tuned. in the meantime, contact me and let’s fika!

onwards + upwards! xox

Hugos Kaffe | Svartbäcksgatan 21 | 753 32 Uppsala, Sweden |

map hugos kaffe* this post is not sponsored

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beans at the beach

one of the perks of writing about coffee is that i get to try all different kinds of coffee from all different kinds of places. one of my favorite local roasters (and there are many favorite roasters in asheville) is biltmore coffee traders. the couple who co-owns the coffeehouse, laura and rick, are just about the most considerate people i know. everything that they do in their business revolves around being real, authentic, and environmentally friendly. their purpose is to provide good coffee that you can feel good about – so they make known that they deal with direct trade and fair trade coffee farmers to get their beans. you can buy beans and coffee from them and know that you are not only helping them to sustain their little family, but you are also making a difference in the lives of real coffee farmers around the world.

since biltmore coffee traders is all about family, awareness, and making a positive impact on the planet and in the lives of their customers, i decided that i wanted to bring their coffee beans down to the beach with me to share with my family during our annual family beach week.

i dropped by biltmore coffee traders  a day before leaving for the beach week to pick out some beans. rick was working, and he and i looked over the beans and finally decided that i’d do a brazilian peaberry/nicaraguan blend – something that rick recommended. so, i got two pounds of freshly roasted coffee beans and headed home to pack them with all of my beach gear.

biltmore coffee traders

biltmore coffee traders beans

on the first morning, the family gathered outside on the deck, with our freshly ground and brewed blend; and kicked off a week of fun in the sun. thank you, biltmore coffee traders, for sharing your love and passion and delicious beans! our mornings are all the better knowing that we are making a difference while we sip our cup o’ joe.

beans at the beach

coffee at the beach

namaste.

 

celebrating midsummer like a swede

today is sweden’s midsummer celebration day! and, since this blog began because of a love for swedish fika, i thought it was only appropriate that i celebrate this super favorite holiday in sweden as they do in fika’s motherland – the celebration is second only to christmas, actually. and, of course, as part of a swedish-american marriage, we are celebrating in our home here in the states – just in a different way, of course.

midsummer, a.k.a. the summer solstice and the first day of summer, is so big in sweden because it is a celebration of the high season of light. the day is meant to be spent outside – eating, drinking, dancing, singing and playing games. and, if you’re lucky, you get to leave the city and head to the countryside to celebrate in the middle of the gorgeous nature that makes up sweden. swedes celebrate the sunshine, the light of the longest day, and nature so fiercely on this day because they all know that after today, the days become shorter – until it is almost complete darkness all day long in december. for me, midsummer is the celebration of living in the moment, of living life to the fullest.

of course, all fikas during the day will be outside as well, even if it’s raining – swedes are hard core and love their nature. for fika, along with our coffee, we would most likely eat something with strawberries, a delicious favorite of the summer season. yum!

strawberry fika

so, even though i am not in sweden today, we still had a little celebration of our own. at our little asheville home, we enjoyed a simple fika this morning of fresh strawberries and hot coffee. not exactly the same as dancing around the midsummer pole with a hundred other people, but cozy and perfect, just the same. how are you planning to celebrate the beginning of summer?

happy midsummer to all of you out there. may the light of the sun energize, warm, and inspire you! namaste.

to read more about some of my previous midsummer celebrations in sweden, click on the years below.

2013 | 2012

cafe pick me up: an east village gem

sometimes the best places are found by accident. during my latest trip to new york city, i had the pleasure of staying in an apartment in funky alphabet city (part of east village). the beauty of this, was that i was able to live like a local, instead of like a tourist. though i’m sure that i looked like a tourist everywhere i went, camera dangling around my neck, eyes and neck craned upwards gawking and drooling over architecture and fire escapes. still, my entire experience was a tiny bit of what it might be like to live in this ethnic, diverse, funky, rough around the edges neighborhood.

so, on my first morning in alphabet city, i decided to walk until i found a place for fika/breakfast – and that first cup of coffee of the day. no plans. no googling. no maps. just walking. i knew that i would know when i arrived. so, i strolled. and meandered. i observed and soaked in. i watched as east village began to stitch her arms and say good morning. and it all felt magical.

i passed buildings that i was certain i could live in, given the chance. i passed little gardens, with a lone person flipping through the new york times or new york post. and then i passed tompkins square park – the park that was, just a few years back, infamous for being a top place to find whatever drug you craved. today, the park, the whole east village area, is much cleaner – yet the vibes remain.

east village neighborhood

east village walk-up tompkins square park1

just across the street from the park, on the corner of avenue a and 9th street was a cafe with outdoor seating. almost all of the tables were occupied, but there was one in the corner that looked perfect. this was it. this was where i’d have my first sip of nyc coffee on this trip. cafe pick me up in east village.

after walking through the open-air cafe and seeing the bohemian, vintage, second-hand style, the decision to stop here was even more certain in my mind. it was the perfect place for my bohemian soul.

ave a corner corner ave a and 9th cafe pick me up

snagging that corner table on the sidewalk, the server brought a menu that included everything from breakfast sandwiches to pastries to eggs, and that was just breakfast. of course, there were vegan and vegetarian options as well – so many, that i thought i had teleported back to asheville. i decided on a chocolate croissant, a large orange juice (fresh!), and a big cup of black coffee with cream.

as i ate the delicious, fluffy (and chocolate-y) pastry, downed my orange juice, and sipped my coffee, i imagined doing this every day – but, with my journal in tow. you know, living the writer’s life in new york city (or what i dream that the writer’s life would be like – knowing that it’s not that dreamy and amazing every day). but, instead of dreaming away my moments, i refocused on the present moment – the homeless man sweeping the street and curb so diligently. the shop owner next to the cafe cleaning his part of the sidewalk, mopping his store floors, and then pouring the water down the sidewalk drain. the people coming out from a door next to where i was sitting, most assuredly tenants in the apartments above the cafe. people exercising, walking and talking on their phone. people pushing their baby or running with their dog. all kinds of people. all colors and shades. each doing their own thing, but all a part of this one little community moment.

IMG_2736 cafe pick me up sign
cafe corner

cafe pick me up most definitely lives up to its name. perched on a corner in east village, across from the park, it is the perfect spot to give you a little pick-up if you’re hungry, tired, or feeling uninspired. it may not be the typical coffee shop place for fika, as it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. it’s not just a coffee shop, but a full-fledged cafe. still, it was the place where i started my day – and my visit to the big apple – with a piping hot cup of coffee. and after an hour long, leisurely breakfast in the sunshine, i can honestly say that i was full, energized, inspired, and ready to tackle of all the amazingness that new york city had to offer me on that day.

namaste.

the birthday fika tradition

i’ve only worked there for about 1 month, but my co-workers at the church celebrated my birthday with me with a wednesday morning fika! the secretary of the church had a birthday last friday & mine is coming up, so we decided to have a cooperative birthday fika wednesday morning. in sweden, the birthday tradition is to invite people to your own birthday fika and prepare everything for them; so she brought lots of delicious, fresh bread & all the fixin’s for sandwiches and i brought the cake. sweden is over-the-top amazing with their pastries, baked-goods, and cakes – as you can see. if only you could have tasted! we set the table and had about 12 people there to enjoy a cozy morning fika in the church’s cafe. what a great way to start the day!