Copenhagen Coffee Shops Vs. Tea Rooms

Things to Do — By Jane Graham on March 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Copenhagen has its casual cafés, and then it has its coffee shops and tea salons. The latter are serious institutions that separate the men from the boys and the tea drinkers from the coffee enthusiasts. From expert baristas hard at work to the meticulous ceremonies of English and Japanese tea rooms, coffee shops and tea salons are not to be confused with cafés. From the serious to the exotic, here’s a rundown of the aficionado’s top spots for coffee and tea in Copenhagen.

The Serious

Often in Denmark, when you ask for a cup of tea, you’ll get handed a cup of hot water and be pointed in the direction of some tea bags. If you’re lucky, among the fruit flavorings and Earl Greys, you might find an English Breakfast or a Ceylon. As any English tea drinker knows, this dipping of a tea bag into hot — not boiling — water really will not do.

Not that this would ever happen at Perch’s Tea Room; the cafe side A.C. Perch’s Thehandler is an old colonial store from 1835, and the tea room is a seriously old-fashioned, genteel place where tea is served properly, in silver pots and — if you so desire — with finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream.

Coffee is just as serious a ritual at Risteriet on nearby Studiestræde, where the beans are not only freshly ground but also roasted on the premises. This is not a place for de-caff drinkers; the java here is strong.

coffe cup in Copenhagen cafe window with street view outside

The Nostalgic

Kafferiet, a tiny little coffee shop in a green building dating from 1760 on Esplanaden at the edge of Grønningen Park makes the perfect rest point on the way back from Kastellet or The Little Mermaid. The sign outside says “Slow coffee” — as with Risteriet, the place roasts its own beans in house twice a week — and the double roast specialty coffee is roasted (you guessed it) twice. On the shelves, amid Mexican icons and ‘50s-era knick-knack, glass jars of sweets imported from Italy are for sale.

Tante T, on the opposite end of town near the Central Train station, celebrates the simple things in life — resting one’s feet, indulging a sweet tooth, a good pot of tea. Over 100 varieties of fresh tea — there are no tea bags here — is stocked in an old grocer’s chest from Jutland. Watch the tea brewing slowly in glass teapots, and pour yourself.

The Exotic

Forget you’re in Scandinavia for a while and let the aromas of North Africa or Asia whisk you away to exotic shores. Enjoy a mint tea or a cup of chai flavored with cardamom or cinnamon at bright Moroccan teahouse The á la Menthe, amid a street market décor.

A social ritual in many parts of the world, tea drinking takes on a more spiritual form in the east. The calming atmosphere of Japanese tea house Sing Tehus allows guests to find their inner zen with specially imported green and black teas. Sit at western-style tables or in the style of a Japanese tea ceremony.

Enjoy the Moment

A popular spot for recharging those batteries is The Living Room, just across the road from the Atlas Bar. Whatever your taste, you can feel at home here: The Living Room serves good strong coffee as well as pots of fresh tea in a separate tea room.

The Coffee Factory on Gothersgade, meanwhile, is another spot where the caffeine fix comes with friendly service. Your drink here is to be savored in good company, while watching the hustle and bustle of the street outside.

Image courtesy of Nicholas Boos/flickr.

Tags: Copenhagen cafes, good coffee, Japanese teahouses, tea rooms