What makes a coffee shop different?

coffee shops
The coffee shop culture in Copenhagen is very strong and as yet isn’t dominated by a few large chains like other countries. Would you believe that Copenhagen only got its first cafe in 1976! We are very lucky to have a huge number of excellent places to choose from in any given neighbourhood and there always seems to me another new one appearing. As a freelancer I spent a lot of time in coffee shops with fast wifi (everywhere it seems here, places in the UK should take note) and recently I was commissioned to write an article about coffee shops and freelancers for a UK outlet (published soon) so my coffee shop knowledge increased due to this (and my bank balance decreased!)

But how do all these coffee shops differentiate themselves in such a busy marketplace and attract a loyal following? Here are a few quirks I have noticed – I would love to hear others you have spotted and liked.

Looking like a student front room with a vintage feel

In my research for the article above I was pointed in the direction of Retro on Jægersborggade. This not for profit cafe is a home away from home for the student population and looks just like my student house living room circa 1995 with the messy pile of board games and mismatch of sofas and chairs. This place has a great vibe and when I was in there it was packed with students, freelancers, mums with babies or people just grabbing a chilled out coffee. It may be too cool and scruffy for some but it is certainly different.retroQuirky crockery

Great coffee – tick, delicious baked goods – tick, but is that enough to make people remember your place, come back again and share pictures in Instagram? Many places are using quirky crockery to serve their food and drinks and thus making them something different. One of my favourites is Mirabelle, with the best croissants outside of France IMO, but also serving drinks and food on Falcon enamelware.


Shabby chic (with fab hot chocolate)

Shabby chic decor in cafes is certainly not unique in Copenhagen but there are some places that do it better than others. My neighbourhood cafe, Kaffestuen on Østerbrogade has a wonderful display of vinyl record covers in the back room which is a super cosy space to work or read. The unwritten rule in here seems to be that the back is the quiet area and the front the more socialable. The hot chocolate in here, made with melted chocolate buttons is the best we have tasted in the city! An honourable mention in the shabby chic category and one that is worth a trip is Bang og Jensen on Istedgade.kaffestuen

Organic food and open bakeries

Organic food and drink in this city is easy to come by and not as expensive as it is in other places. One of my current favourite cafes and bakeries is Brødflov on Falkoner Alle. Their amazing breads and cakes plus the coffees and teas are all organic and priced at the same point as other cafes in the area so there is no excuse to to treat your body to the best. They also have two open bakeries in the cafe and also the shop across the street where you can see the resident bakers hard at work. Mirabelle also has the same but I think they bake earlier in here as it is always deserted when I am in there.

DSC00317These are a few of my favourite things and places – what are yours?


  1. Hey Mel
    Remember to come visit at Gedigen kaffe og sager (coffee and stuff) when we open june 2nd at Jagtvej 193, CPH Ø.
    I’m going for a combination of all of the coffeeshops above. 😊

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