A PIECE OF WORKING CLASS HISTORY
THE OLD DANISH KAFFEBAR
Inspired by the diners of America, the classic coffee shop came to Denmark in the 1930's. By the 1950's there were hundreds of coffee shops throughout Copenhagen. They provided a relaxed, homey establishment where blue collar workers — like craftsmen, moving people, mailmen and taxi drivers — would come by on a daily basis. No alcohol was served. The workers could bring food from home and come by early morning till mid afternoon. Or buy a loaf of white bread with cheese and a cup of drip coffee, eat while reading the newspaper and getting warm before going back to work.
Later they expanded into serving small, simple, no fuss open faced sandwiches on rye called 'håndmadder'. These sandwiches didn't have a lot of toppings, just the basics, and could be eaten by hand. Workers could pick up a pre-made lunch bag with '4 unspecified halves' that somewhat resembled the typical lunchbox a wife or mom would make. They would bring their lunch bags back to work or simply sit at the kaffebar and enjoy it in an easy going, approachable and unpretentious atmosphere.
Top picture is from around 1935 when Peder Dybvig
had a deli and grocery shop at the Underdog location.
Nowadays, the more modest, traditional Danish kaffebarer and smørrebrød is slowly vanishing and there are only few classic coffeeshops left in Denmark.
Smørrebrød is still a favorite and a very popular food in Denmark though. Today you'll find it at traditional lunch restaurants, cafes and food halls, and even high-end restaurants. The modern version focuses more on quality, sustainability and ecology and is influenced by todays good produce, technique and craft.
Visit the Copenhagen Working Class Museum in Rømersgade
for a peak back in time through Danish working class history.