“Kaffepause” Is the Relaxing Norwegian Habit You Need to Try Tomorrow (I Feel So Much Better!)

published Jun 22, 2024
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Typically I grab a coffee when I feel like I need the caffeine boost — first thing in the morning in the rush to get out the door, or in the 10 minutes between meetings — not when I feel like I deserve a break. Although it’s very American to make a coffee “pit stop” and “fuel up” on the way to work, I’d love to curate a routine that sounds a little bit less like a Formula 1 race. And after recently becoming acquainted with the Norwegian “kaffepause,” I’ve found my new coffee philosophy.

What Is Kaffepause?

Strolling through the Mingei Museum inside San Diego’s Balboa Park last month, I perused an exhibit called Cups to Connections, all about the ways beverages bring people together in different cultures around the world. Among the gorgeous wooden, porcelain, and glass cups, one plaque caught my eye.

“Norwegian hospitality is a blend of warmth, sincerity, and a deep appreciation for koselig — an environment and feeling that is cozy, intimate, and filled with togetherness,” it read.

“At the heart of this is the ritual of sharing moments over coffee. Norwegians, avid coffee enthusiasts, partake in a kaffepause (coffee breaks) — a social glue that brings people together,” it continued. “In homes and cafes, the atmosphere is intentionally crafted to be koselig with the use of candles bringing light and warmth to the longer winter night.” 

Why I’m Adopting This Norwegian Ritual 

While it might not seem like a major shift, the concept of kaffepause has me rethinking my daily coffee habit. Rather than a rushed, solitary errand, I’d love to reimagine it as a chance to linger over a drink with a friend or stranger — a ritual more about connection than caffeine (although that’s obviously an appreciated side effect).

When I spent a year studying in Spain in college, one of my favorite things to do was sit at a cafe and leisurely sip on a cup of cafe con leche (or tinto de verano), chat with friends, people-watch, and take our sweet time. Getting a coffee to-go was rare, besides at a few coffee shops that catered specifically to expats or study-abroad students like myself. 

While Americans tend to romanticize the European way of life, from long summer breaks and midday naps, to healthy sleep habits and delicious afternoon routines, there’s no need to book an international flight to embrace some of these customs. As for kaffepause, I’m sure I’ll still be starting many days with a cup of coffee — but I’m going to make a habit out of saying “to go” a little less often. 

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: “Kaffepause” Is the Relaxing Norwegian Habit You Need to Try Tomorrow