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You have of course heard the phrase:
“They were the love of my life! “

Perhaps you have said it for someone.
What a wonderful phrase. Isn’t it?

Well, I’ve only used that phrase once…
But for… a cafe.
Because my life as a coffee lover has only two parts:

The pre-Scandinavian embassy era.

And the after-Scandinavian Embassy era.

In one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful neighborhoods, De Pijp, where I used to live for about four years…
On the corner of Sarphatipark and Ceintuurbaan…
My love for good coffee… was discovered!

This place was like a small university for me.
There I met some of the best baristas in town.
It was there that I learned what a coffee tree looks like and that the fruit is red.
They told me about the production, the soils, the states, and the big market.

There… in this wonderful place with a Scandinavian aesthetic, I realized that… enjoying a Cinnamon bun by dipping it in a cup of Guatemalan filter coffee could become an extraordinary ritual that I would repeat very often for the next years.

The owners:
Daniella Nystrom from Sweden & Nicolas Castagno from Argentina.
They are a couple I admire very much. I watch them work hard and closely and take care of every detail.

I remember many times when Daniella would by herself take care of the fresh flowers in the vases with such care and tell me about the Swedish traditional almond cake “mandelkaka” while watching me devour it with bulimia.

In the bright window, I tasted for the first time the Swedish sweet: Semlor or Semla, fresh and cared for like a jewel. I ate every spoonful with awe and gratitude.

In the same bright window, reading poetry in German & being impressed by the art latte in my white cup… I met for the first time my dear friend Natalie who used to work there as a barista and now she lives in Zurich preparing her own coffee and cinnamon buns business.

At the open kitchen bar, the Estonian chef, Siim Siil was preparing in front of me my favorite musli with cranberry-apple jam, tarragon & yogurt. Pulling out of the oven a dozen warm cinnamon buns he was talking to me about his life in Norway and how his stay in the country-influenced his thinking and inspiration.
For anyone who’s discerning and want to try bold flavours, this musli bowl is the ultimate choice.

At the back of the shop, in a small quiet courtyard resembling a garden house that used to be in the old buildings of De Pijp, I experienced some of the most beautiful autumn moments sipping my latte with oat milk and looking at the fallen yellow leaves on the glass rooftop while hearing the sound of the rain.

On the wooden bench with the built-in tables, outside (that no longer exists), on a sunny May morning with flat white, I finished Ingmar Bergman’s biography: The Magic Lantern. At the same time, a dialogue in Swedish was coming from the kitchen and I took it as a wonderful signal. The last page of the book of the life of the miraculous Swedish director was closing in this Swedish café in an old neighborhood of Amsterdam.

In the hard Dutch lockdowns, the Scandinavian Embassy had the most beautiful terrace. You took your takeaway coffee and walked across the street. The small but cute Sarphatipark (it was a time when it was intended for this place to be where Amsterdam Central would be built) offered us the best benches and enough distance for protection.

Perhaps the only negative thing I could mention is that this lovely cafe was so popular that there were many times when it was overcrowded. Since I could not find a place to sit, I had to take away my paper cup of coffee, which was designed with birds on it, and have a walk outside.

But even that negative part seems to be gone now. A second Scandinavian embassy in another part of the city will open its doors at the beginning of 2022. This time with a slightly different character. Like a bakery shop at Europaplein 87. (One of the little birds whispered to me that we could find vegan cardamom buns there)

I could talk to you for hours about this place as it was where I made my meetings with all my friends in good and bad times. I remember one Monday morning I had received an emergency message from a friend and hastily wearing pajamas and sneakers leaving my apartment and in three minutes I was there and my friend laughing about the intimacy I felt.
Those of you who have your own “haunt” 3-5 minutes away from your home, know exactly what I mean.

My dear travelers & locals, if you’re around the corner, have a stop and say hello.
Eat your mandelkaka, enjoy your cappuccino and make an application at the embassy for your Scandinavian passport. They will give you citizenship immediately.

              Farväl små fåglar

Sarphatipark 34, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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