Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My morning coffee: Agnes Cupcakes

Last minute Christmas shopping and a stroll around Copenhagen to keep the blood flowing, given the drop in temperature, it was the perfect opportunity to share a morning coffee and catch up with two of my oldest friends here. To clarify, when I say 'oldest', its not their age I'm referring to but they are two of the girls that I met early on in our Copenhagen adventure. As is so often the case when one lands in a foreign city with young children, we met through the children. Bonding as adults during time spent at playgroups and playgrounds, children's playdates and little ones' birthday parties. Ultimately, I know that our children spent all this time together because we bonded as mothers, but one always wonders what might happen when the children move on..

And here we are in a new phase of our friendship - the children are in daycare (save for the angel baby that tagged along today and did a marvellous job of sleeping as mummy browsed and shopped). Today was one of our get togethers under the new regime - it was kid-free time. We weren't bound by children's routines and needs. It was our time. Its in this new context that we are getting to know each other as individuals not just as the mothers of the children our own children play with. Its all part of the journey to our pre-mother identity. Or maybe we never lose that identity but it asserts itself when children are in daycare and we can meet up as 'girlfriends'. The focus is on us rather than our (adorable) little appendages.

I'm very pleased to report that when left to our own devices, we headed straight for the cupcake emporium that is Agnes Cupcakes. Like kids in a candy store, we gasped and delighted at the colourful buttercream and sponge cake creations. The coffee, though a necessity, was an after thought. In truth, even the cupcakes, though delicious, blended into the background as we caught up and chatted the time away.

Now we chat about our stuff not our roles in the world as mothers and that, like the coffee, is refreshing. Re-energised we returned to our Christmas shopping lists and the chatter continued. It turns out that even without our children in tow we have lots to talk about!

Visit Agnes' website to see the ever changing menu of seasonal cupcake creations.

Cost: A double cappuccino costs 30 DKK
Coffee hygge factor: 4 out of 5 (what's not to love when the coffee comes with such a tasty side order?!)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

My morning coffee: CPH Coffee

Its Saturday morning again and I'm back in Christianshavn with my daughter for her ballet lesson. These lessons are now a permanent feature in our weekend schedule and one of my favourite times of the week. Its not just the lesson and seeing her jumping and (very nearly) skipping around in her cute ballet outfit, I also love being in Christianshavn. The 20 minute bike ride to the other side of the canal and across the bridge to Amager takes us through central Copenhagen and into the heart of touristville. I love being there as a 'local' or, at least, a long term visitor.

It was nearly two years ago to the day that we came over to Denmark looking for somewhere to live and we seriously considered a warehouse space on Holmen behind the new opera house. Of course, now that we know the city we know that it wouldn't have worked for us to live all the way out there, relying on the water taxi to get across the harbour. But two years ago Copenhagen was still an unknown, somewhere that was waiting to be discovered. Today it feels like home.

En route to ballet, we stop off for a coffee and a snack (chocolate croissant, if my daughter has anything to do with it) at CPH coffee. Funnily enough, this spot first caught my eye on that reconnaissance trip in November 2010. For anyone who has ever been to London the logo and marketing of CPH coffee brings to mind 'Pret-a-manger', a coffee shop/sandwich bar chain that was my stable lunch option back in the day. At first I wondered if they too had been drawn to Scandinavia but in fact the little CPH coffee spot on Torvegade is a one-off independent place. From my regular visits on Saturday mornings I have gotten to know CPH coffee and my daughter has her own 'usual' order of warm milk as I sip on my cappuccino and we watch the tourists on their way to Christiania.

Places like these make Copenhagen feel like home for me. I chat in Danish now as I help my daughter make small talk about the ballet classes and we giggle together about the chocolate smeared around her face. And having lived here for nearly two years, I have watched my paradigm shift. It doesn't take long for the unfamiliar to become the norm. But on this trip to ballet, it is starting to look strange again. 

This week, the job that brought my husband (and us) over here was called to a shocking and abrupt end. Despite a stella performance on his part and record results for the business as a whole, it is being shut down. Out of the blue, just like that, brutal in its timing. Our Danish adventure now feels like it is slipping through our fingers. This is all still so fresh and raw but on my bike ride through Christianshavn, I feel different about my environment already. We stop for coffee, chat in Danish and, of course, it tastes as good as ever and I realise how deep it will cut if we have to leave.

Just now, we don't know what our next step will be but, if the end of our adventure in Denmark is in sight, I'm determined to squeeze every last drop out of it....

Cost: single shot cappuccino costs 26 DKK (varm mælk for min datter serves i en helt specialt koppe - gratis!)
Coffee hygge factor: 4 out of 5