back in my asheville days, i was known as “the fika girl“.
this is all because i decided to do a little blog project, which then turned into a little freelance gig with a local, independent newspaper. pretty much a dream come true. i began by deciding to visit 40 different cafés in asheville in 40 days. yes, there are that many cafés in asheville – even more, actually. i started a blog about it, and i wrote a post after each daily visit. my goal was three-fold: 1) to get to know asheville again + to find my new, favorite coffehouses. 2) to bring the swedish concept of fika (an experience of drinking coffee, usually with something sweet to eat. a time to enjoy an intentional cup of coffee with friends, family, or colleagues. an important social part of everyday swedish culture) to asheville. 3) to see how spending 40 days in coffeehouses sipping coffee might change me.
well, 40 days in 40 coffeehouses led to some amazing insights and opportunities. not only did i meet my three goals mentioned above, but i got that freelance job out of it – a chance to write a column called “the fika files” in the mountain xpress, i met tons of amazing people, and i became an official coffee snob. i got to interview café owners, coffee roasters, and write articles about coffee events. i was the go-to person about coffee for a while in asheville, even snagging the nickname “the fika girl”.
i also started a meetup group called “asheville fika“. as people began to read my fika blog, they began to question me if they could meet with me. so, i decided to start publicising an open meeting that would meet at a different café every week from 11:30-1:30, during the lunch hour. my group met every single wednesday, all over asheville, from november 2013 until i left in janauary 2015. actually, they are still meeting! i passed it on to another leader. during these meetings, we simply sat and talked and drank coffee. no agenda. no pressure. no commitments. pure, simple, open community. and we grew from about 4-5 people every week to having over 20 every week. now, mind you, there are actually over 200 people who are now part of this group. not everyone comes every single week, of course, so there are always some regulars and some new people at every single fika meeting.
this was an amazing experience, and i have made some very good friends thanks to the fika group. i cannot wait to meet up with them again the next time i am back in asheville!
in a nutshell, coffee was a huge, huge part of my life in asheville. and my passion for coffee blossomed as i wrote about it, researched it, and met people in the coffee business, or simply chatted with other coffee lovers. it became a spiritual practice for me – sitting down and enjoying coffee with someone. opening doors and possibilities and listening stories of people following their dreams, discovering who they are, and living their passion. everything coffee-related became a chance to connect with others by taking the time to intentionally slow down and, well, connect.
svartbãcksgatan: a street in uppsala | photo taken in february
now that i am back in sweden, the motherland of fika, i feel very differently about coffee. i realize that, in asheville, i made the transition from simply being a coffee lover to being someone who truly wishes to learn + share more about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into coffee. i find myself wanting to teach people about coffee beans, roasting, making good cups of coffee. and, of course, i want to fill my home with all of the coffee gadgets i can. coffee has truly become a craft, like the craft beer industry in the states, and i think that it is amazing that the coffee culture is growing into a mindful, earth-friendly art form.
speaking of craft coffee, i have also acquired a passion for supporting local, independent coffeehouses and cafés – those seeking to not only provide customers with a good cup of coffee, but those who serve their customers with a purpose. there is nothing like discovering a small, local business, with an owner who absolutely loves what he or she does. and in the coffee business, it is usually not only a love of coffee for them, but also a love for connecting with people as well.
now that i live in uppsala, sweden, i want to seek out these places here. i want to find the people who burn for their unique, independent place in the business world. those people who not only want to turn a profit, but who want to make a difference in the community as well. because, in my opinion, the best businesses are those that have a mission or a vision to not only make their business successful, but to make their community successful as well. it’s all about working together. that’s the asheville, north carolina way. and i believe that there are plenty of places in uppsala that have the same philosophy.
and guess what? i found one of those places.
i have decided not to do a 40 days of fika: uppsala edition right now. but, i have been searching and trying out difference cafés + coffeehouses, looking for the ones with soul. and, boy have i found one.
hugos kaffe (hugo’s coffee) is a tiny, funky, vintage-inspired coffeeshop on what i have dubbed my favorite street/block in uppsala: svartbäcksgatan. the café called to me the very first time i walked by it. i knew it was not uptight, not fancy, not pretentious, not a like-everything-else kind of place (and swedish cafés can be all of those things). this place had its own soul. it’s own character. it was friendly + relaxed. charming + funky. interested in local, organic, and making a difference. and i got all of that just by passing it.
needless to say, i have been in multiple times now. and i every time i enter, i feel as if i am transported back to asheville. the vibe is incredible. and the owner, well, all of those descriptions above ring true for him as well. this place feels like home to me. and, not home in some nostalgic way (ok, a little bit of nostalgia), but home (asheville) in a unique, independent, local-loving, fair-trade dealing, community-supporting, artsy, eclectic kind of way. hugos kaffe possess all of the things that are good about the coffee community of asheville and other like-minded cities around the world.
this poster says that if you bring you own mug, you get your coffee for half price, and that it’s all about thinking green.
for these kinds of coffeehouses, it’s all about creating a better community, making a difference in the world, and serving good coffee in their own unique way. and, after visiting cafés like that, i do not want to go into places that are stale, similar to each other, and do not think so much about what they are doing. i always seek out a place that creates a coffee culture.
so, coffee lovers, if you live in uppsala or visit uppsala, then by all means visit hugos kaffe! i promise you that you will feel welcomed + cared for, and you can sip on your coffee with the knowledge that your cup is making a difference in the lives of the coffee farmers whose beans fill your cup, the lives of the coffee roasters down in malmö + in your own community.
and, who knows, perhaps i will start a new meetup group here in uppsala?! perhaps we will meet at hugos once a week?! stay tuned. in the meantime, contact me and let’s fika!
onwards + upwards! xox
Hugos Kaffe | Svartbäcksgatan 21 | 753 32 Uppsala, Sweden |