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Coffee, Tea or Laundry?

3 minute read
KATE POULSSON | Copenhagen

If you’re a multitasker and enjoy the odd shot of java, then Copenhagen may be the place for you. In the Danish capital’s rapidly gentrifying Nørrebro area — where the city’s café culture has long flourished — a wave of young entrepreneurs has started a new trend by opening “fusion cafés.” The term is not a reference to any cross-cultural cuisine on the menu. Instead, it designates a place where you can “fuse” your coffee drinking with some other activity, from shopping to getting your laundry done.

Rubbing shoulders with the more traditional cafés on Sankt Hans Torv (or Sankt Hans Square) is Kaffeplantagen, tel: (45) 3536 2232, a café-cum-flower-shop that opened in early 2004. Norwegian owner Henriette Arff had already decided to sign the lease on a flower shop with her Danish business partners when she realized that she wasn’t getting anywhere in her search for the perfect cup of coffee. The solution was to merge the flower business with her vision of a decent café — that means Kaffeplantagen’s customers can purchase a potted azalea along with kaffe og kage (coffee and cake). Best of all, because of the plants, Kaffeplantagen is smoke-free — a rarity for Copenhagen.

On nearby Faelledvej, the street leading away from Sankt Hans Torv, is Gefährlich, tel: (45) 3524 1324, where the first floor houses an elegant, relaxed restaurant, and the ground level a gallery, a café and a store that sells records and clothes. The venture was dreamed up by graphic designer Rikke Nogel, artist Eva Wandel, and musicians Sebastian Christensen and Konrad Jahn (the latter is a DJ at the club that commandeers the ground floor at weekends). The result is one of the city’s hippest hangouts — a place where you can browse obscure vinyl and the latest fashions alongside an excellent menu of mostly seasonal produce.

In adjacent Elmegade is the fusion café that Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen once called the “the coolest in Nørrebro.” Politicians aren’t normally arbiters of hip, but with the Laundromat Café, tel: (45) 3535 2672, Rasmussen might be right. In a colorful setting of red lamps, red booths and coffee-colored walls, you can wash your clothes or pore over any of 4,000 secondhand books on sale. Icelandic owner Fridrik Weisshappel Jônsson says people have warmed to the concept “because modern-city living places importance on saving time, and here they can have lunch and do a daily chore.”

Just over Dronning Louises Bro (bridge) is Barbarellah, tel: (45) 3332 0061, a café, restaurant, lounge bar and fashion store. Barbara Bascunan and her brothers Daniel and Pablo opened the café, which is full of their customized flea-market acquisitions, last July, and virtually everything is up for grabs. “You can basically buy everything except the bartenders,” says Daniel, who sees himself as part of a new movement of café innovators in Copenhagen. “We recognize there’s a concept that links us and we see each other less as competitors and more as colleagues.” Injecting a note of cooperation into the cutthroat world of the restaurant business? Now that’s an unlikely fusion.

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