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Gettin’ Hygge With It in Copenhagen

As the weather transitions from fall to winter it brings crisp cool air, rustling leaves, comfy sweaters and low season for popular European destinations. If booking cheaper flights and hotels in most major European destinations (without all the crowds) interests you, then gettin’ hygge in Copenhagen should be at the top of your list. The word hygge (pronounced HOO-ga) per the New York Times best-selling book The Little Book of Hygge is a Nordic concept and untranslatable word that roughly translates to “cozy contentment” or “well-being”.

Denmark only has seven to eight hours of daylight in the winter so mastering hygge is imperative to enjoying the long dark winters. Naturally, coffee would be the remedy of choice to keep your circadian rhythm in check when the dark sky at 3 pm tells you otherwise.  So grab your favorite beanie, oversized scarf, warmest down jacket and let’s get cozy and content at some of my favorite spots in Copenhagen — the beautiful capital city of Denmark.

In the center of the city, you’ll conveniently find Cafe Atelier September. The definition of hygge with its simple delicate farmhouse like decor, perfectly executed lattes, fresh juices and delectable Nordic breakfast treats. They are famous for their avocado toast and it should not be missed — trust.  

Another favorite out in Nørrebro just across Queen Louise’s bridge is Andersen & Maillard for their soft serve. Yes, their coffee soft serve ice cream on a croissant! I know, ice cream when its cold out? But again, trust. While their coffee and croissants are award-winning, it’s the ice cream that has folks coming back again and again.

In an effort to achieve zero waste (gotta love them Danes) they use the leftover steamed milk to make their ice cream. Did you ever pour a little bit of your mom’s coffee into your milk in the mornings when you were a kid, just to feel grown up? I did and that is exactly what this ice cream reminded me of. The most delicate coffee flavor in a milky soft serve. I sigh just thinking about it because I wish I could have one – like now.  

Next down in Kødbyen, Copenhagen’s meatpacking district, the best spot for custom brews is at Prolog Coffee Bar an old bookshop that still has the bones, smells and essence of one. It’s rumored to be René Redzepi’s favorite cafe to get his daily caffeine fix. The artisanal coffee here tasted more like tea, something completely foreign to me but I loved it.  

Finally, I wouldn’t be able to write a post about hygge and not mention Slurp Ramen Joint. Their slogan #pursuitofslurpiness says it all. The unanimous symbol for hygge should be a piping hot bowl of ramen on a chilly winter day if you ask me.  I know it’s not coffee but it’s the most soul-satisfying umami bowl of “cozy contentment” and “well-being” you will find in the city.

My friend Philipp Inreiter is the head chef and co-owner of the bustling ramen joint. Born in Austria, Philipp has worked at Eleven Madison Park, Noma and Relae before living in Tokyo slurping, perfecting and falling in love with ramen. It’s a simple menu with bar seating only: queue up, order a bowl (or two) and slurp your way to your best hygge life. 

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