In my search for the perfect cup of coffee, the turn has now come to a write-up of Nöller Espressobar in Gothenburg. A small coffee bar in Italian-French style it has been located at Haga Nygata 28 since 2004, and I have been a frequent visitor since its opening. Luckily I am now working in the vicinity so I can treat myself by going there more often. I write luckily, because it is really good.
From the word go Nöller Espressobar understood the importance of high quality, good organic produce and the necessity of love and tenderness involved in the making of good coffee. I have never, during all my visits, been served a mediocre cup of coffee. And I have tried most of their range. Naturally, the espresso macchiato is my pick any day and it has always been schoolbook perfect. Regardless of which barista has been on duty. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a proof of the devotion showed to serving good coffee. Though Nöller Espressobar have extensive opening hours they haven’t pushed themselves taking on more staff than needed, which in my view is part of the quality problem running rife at bigger coffee chains like Starbucks, Nero, or the ghastly monstrosity called Espresso House that is dominating the Swedish highstreets since a few years back.
The result of the mindset and business-think of Marc Nöller, the proprietor, is great. With home made sarnies, tasty soups and the most delicious small cakes and pastries made in the little kitchen at the back a lunch or a quick bite is always a pleasure to enjoy here. Perfect froth for any cappuccino or espresso macchiato isn’t a downer, either.
The interior is worth mentioning too. It hasn’t really got a style per se, it’s more of a mix of continental European coziness. An Austro-Hungarian art noveau interior meeting French bistro style mixed with a bit of Italian coffee-bar-feel. It’s full of earthy colours like red-brown, black, and red on its own. There’s also a fair share of brushed steel, the ever-so-popular interior idea of the early noughties. Sounds strange, I know, but the warmth and the welcoming atmosphere makes it all work. The three tiny TV-screens behind the bar showing old Charlie Chaplin movies and Italian 1960s classics doesn’t make it worse. It simply has to be seen.
Since this little café is at the top of the cosy Haga district in Gothenburg with lots of shops selling vintage, antiques, antiquarian and remainder books, small hip Scandinavian clothes brands, contemporary interior design etc. it’s a must if you’re here visiting. If you live in Gothenburg and haven’t yet been; shame on you! Nöller is certainly ”worth a detour”, like a rather famous restaurant guide would write.
Mauritz Kaffe is an institution in the Gothenburg coffee circles. It is famous not only for its coffee and great buns and sandwiches, but also for being the first really italian inspired coffee bar opening in Gothenburg. Not to say in Sweden. It is a funny, eccentric place and I have therefore grown to love it.
You find this coffee bar, or coffee house as the owner Tord Wetter preferes to call it, on the busy Fredsgatan, no. 2, in the middle of the city center. Wherever you are planning to go in central Gothenburg, you will inevitably pass by Brunnsparken, one of the three major squares where all the busses and trams pass, and Fredsgatan is one of the main arteries leading further into the heart of the city. Mauritz Kaffe is therefore close to everything. You can’t miss it.
When I went a few weeks ago it was my first time in years, but it was like having it been stuck in a time warp where everything was just like in 1993, or 2004 for that matter. That is a quality I like and find fascinating with institutions like this, and since Mr. Wetter opened this place in 1971 and it has been a hit ever since, he should know. Being the fourth generation of coffee connoisseurs running Mauritz Kaffe, the name comes from his great-great-great grandfather Mauritz Svenson whom started the business in 1888, Tord is now fighting a battle against the big and mighty city council and his landlord who have agreed an unreasonable, and in the case of Mauritz Kaffe devastating, increase in rent. Running a business like this you can never compete with high street names the likes of H&M, Starbucks or Zara, but that does not mean that the inner city have to contain nothing else but. A city planner, responsible city architect or what have you must cherish and appreciate the variety and diversity businesses like this bring to the overall picture and experience of a modern inner city. So I dearly hope that Mauritz Kaffe will be at its current address for many years to come.
The coffee though; any good you might wonder? It’s great. Otherwise this place wouldn’t still be up and running after all these years. My Ethiopian coffee (yes, you can choose from a number of various blends and pure beans), served in a Presso coffee maker, was just as fruity and well rounded as I wanted it. The espresso a few days later was also great. I haven’t tried their milk drinks yet, but there is no reason what so ever they would not be top notch too. An update will come in a month or two when I have been back. If you go here, you should not miss the sour-dough plum buns. I know, how nice does that sound? you might think. But they are heavenly.
Having started as Caffé Espresso in 1995 this was one of the absolutely best coffee bars in Sweden at the time, and stayed that way for many years. Now though, over the last few years, I have had some of the worst coffee in my life at the original dig in Victoriapassagen. They have two more cafés around central Göteborg, and neither have impressed me much so far. From having epitomized Italian coffee culture they are now roasting their own coffee beans locally. Though all is good and well with the fair trade ideology, finding the best coffee beans in Africa and Central America, having a relationship with the coffee farmers etc. the result should still be exemplary and amazing. But it’s not.
After having had three consecutively atrocious coffees at da Matteo Victoriapassagen over the last year where I have 1) thrown the first espresso away due to such bitterness I thought it would burn a hole in my stomach 2) had a second, equally bad espresso, asked for it to be turned into an espresso macchiato with extra milk and gulped it down just ’cause I needed the caffeine and 3) had another espresso which was so vile I simply left it on the table giving up on the whole business. It saddened me to have these coffees since this really was the best coffee around for many years. At my last two visits they seem to have gotten it under control though. The staff is still a bit snobby with an über-cool attitude which I don’t appreciate, but at least the coffee is back on track. My Ethiopian pour over a few weeks ago was fruity, rich and good and so was the espresso macchiato I had. Though that was not at the Victoriapassagen dig but one of their places further up town at Magasinsgatan.
Da Matteo have so many strengths with great pastries, wonderful sour-dough bread and everything is stylish and fresh, but if the coffee, their main source for fame, is not up to the standard all the time they have to start re-thinking their business idea. What is going on at the moment is not acceptable with their heritage and history.