An interview with Johanna Lindskog, co-founder of Uggla Kaffebar.
Uggla has fast become a hot spot in Malmö, thanks largely to its friendly and welcoming atmosphere as much as its stellar coffee and baked treats. Founders Johanna Lindskog and Ajje Ljungberg opened the doors of Uggla in May of 2014 and have since won recognition from Sweden's White Guide as 2015's 'Rising Star' at their Café gala in Stockholm. We asked Johanna to tell us more about Uggla's story.
What inspired you to open Uggla Kaffebar?
I’m relatively new in the coffee business, but previously managed a place called Rosie’s Coffee and Wine in Slottsstaden. When it shut down, I knew I wasn’t quite done with food and different kinds of flavours yet. And that’s a great thing with coffee - there is always more to discover. Then I met Ajje, who runs Möllans Eko, at an after-work and we started talking about doing something together. When I later saw a corner shop available to let at S:t Knuts, we said: ‘alright, let’s do this’.
We opened the doors the 17th of May 2014. It was 3pm and we weren’t ready at all. But all the machines were installed and the coffee tasted good. Apart from that, the decor was simple and sparse, which turned out quite nicely since everything else was able to emerge slowly .
Why did you choose the area S:t Knuts?
I live here and I love the area. It used to be a busy place decades ago, but for a long time not much has been going on at all. Now, however, it is as if the area is beginning to bloom again after a long period of inactivity. The same year as us, Kiez and Spoonery opened across the street. The amazing sushi bar Saiko has been here for a little longer and on this street we also now have the bakery Söderberg & Sara, an art gallery, Artisan Coffee Store and the amazing flower shop Florera. And we are good neighbours, we help each other and borrow things from one another. There is a great atmosphere of community here.
What kind of atmosphere do you want to create with Uggla?
I want it to be a familiar place. A place you can come to without an appointment, but where you’ll always meet someone to talk or listen to. It’s like a creative and flavourful lounge where you can socialise without strings attached, or just relax in a corner if you choose to. In Swedish we have this expression ‘gå och uggla’, which means that you can just relax by yourself like an owl. We have many regulars who have become good friends just by sitting next to each other in the bar. That’s actually one of the things we thought of while designing the bar, that we wanted to create a ‘diner feeling’ where someone stands behind the bar and people easily can initiate a conversation by sitting next to each other.
What can always be expected at Uggla?
Great coffee, naturally. That is an essential foundation for a coffee bar. Then maybe something unexpected like the possibility to order a tray eggs. Something else we value highly is that most things we serve are organic. Other than that, one can always count on a slightly messy but very familiar environment.
What coffee is served and why?
Our house coffee is ‘Coffee Collective’, a roastery I fell in love with at first taste. I’m fascinated with their way of roasting and their playful way of bringing out flavours. They roast their beans lightly, in a way that brings out those strangely delicate flavours such as a fruitiness with a hint of marzipan and a nutty aftertaste. Their espresso bean is our coffee of choice and most popular on our coffee menu. Apart from them, we also welcome 'guest players'. Since the start, we’ve had ‘Drop Coffee’, ‘Solde’ and ‘Per Nordby’ and we’re planning on having ‘The Barn’ and Artisan’s ‘S:t Knuts’. It is great fun both for us and our 'guest players' and one should always ask what’s in the brew. Then we also have our ‘Snutkaffe’ (cop coffee), for those who want a real punch in the face of good filter coffee.
A wonderful thing that happened after we received the White Guide prize is that we now have a couple from an elderly home who regularly travel here to drink our ‘kokekaffe’. Pour over coffee, that recently has become very hip again, is actually a very old way of making coffee. I guess it reminds them of the good old days, so they come here to drink their coffee and eat caviar sandwiches.
Why the name Uggla?
It’s always difficult to choose a name and we had many different working titles that we tried to choose between. However, what happened was that as we were about to open, tons of pigeons sat above the door and I bought an owl statue in order to scare them away. This made us think: ‘why not Uggla?’ (owl in Swedish). I like the Swedish expression: ‘let’s go and owl a little’ and in addition to that, the French word for owl is ‘chouette’, which means that something is pretty damn good. Since our opening day we’ve received so many gifts in forms of various owls. The other day, a friend of mine came with a box of 250! We receive gifts almost every week and usually I name the owls after the giver. At the moment, I have 13 owls in here and 250 waiting to find a place.
So if someone gives an owl to you, it will be named after that person?
What other place would you like to recommend here in Malmö?
The first person that comes to my mind is our neighbour Christopher who runs Artisan Coffee Store, a newly opened coffee store here at S:t Knuts. Be sure to ask him about ‘cupping’, a great way to experience the wide variety of tastes that coffee has to offer.
S:t Knuts Torg 16
211 57 Malmö
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