It’s hard to imagine anyone who loves coffee shops more than Americans, but indeed the Swedes do. It’s no wonder a coffee shop ended up a mainstay in Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, set in Stockholm.
The Mellqvist Kaffebar was just downstairs from fictional Mikael Blomkvist’s magazine, Millennium, and he drank quite a few cups there in the books. Coincidentally, the Mellqvist Kaffebar is actually downstairs from author Stieg Larsson’s magazine, Expo, in the 1990s.
From a seat at the Kaffebar, the series’ main character, Lisbeth Salander, asks Blomkvist to lend her the money that eventually makes her a billionaire. It’s also here that Lisbeth sees Blomkvist kiss his business partner, Erika Berger, leading to their long-term estrangement.
In the non-fiction world of the Mellqvist Kaffebar, Swedes and tourists take part in Sweden’s nearly holy tradition of “fika.” The Stockholm Visitors Board says the word “fika” is “originally backwards-slang for the word ‘kaffi’ which is one way to say coffee in Swedish.” The coffee break is Sweden is more than a cup of coffee, though. It’s about eating and drinking in good company. “At working places, the ‘fikapaus’ is a time scheduled tradition, done both before and after lunch,” the Visitors Board said.
Visitors to the kaffebar mentioned in Larsson’s books find some of Stockholm’s best coffee and sandwiches. Organic coffees and “Bryggkaffe,” a filter coffee, served in glass or pot top the menu. Karl Ekström from the Stockholm Visitors Board said “Plain filter coffee is said to be the latest trend amongst the Stockholm hipsters.”
Hipster or not, the Internet is loaded with comments on the great coffee served there.
The bread and buns on the sandwiches come from a local bakery, Vallhallabagerist. On the local bread, diners can enjoy several grilled sandwiches including turkey with horseradish, parma ham with pesto and tallegio cheese and a mozarella cheese with sambal oelek and grilled peppers sandwich.
Ekström dines at the Mellqvist Kaffebar when he can. “I would order the turkey and horseradish sandwich with a Caffè latte sized ’LAGOM,’ – it’s Swedish for just enough or just right.”
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book fans can see the Mellqvist Kaffebar on a Stieg Larsson Millenium Walking Tour sponsored by the Stockholm City Museum. The Museum offers guided tours in English on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. They also offer private tours in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish and Russian by appointment. The walking tour guests see the Millenium Magazine headquarters, Blomkvist’s apartment, Lisbeth Salander’s luxury apartment and other sites mentioned in the books, including the Mellqvist Kaffebar.
Geocachers enjoy the kaffebar for another reason – one of a series of book-related geocaches is located at the site. (GC1VP6Z)