Karlstad is a small city located between Oslo and Stockholm in the Värmland region of western Sweden. It’s also my second home, where I’ve spent a total of about three and a half years. As a lover of tea and cake who spends a lot of time on her laptop, I visit my fair share of cafés, so I’ve made a guide to my favourite cafés in Karlstad. You can visit an Espresso House or a Wayne’s Coffee in any city in Sweden; but here are some places that you can try instead when you visit Värmland’s capital. All tried and tested, of course.
Zest: Organic and raw food
Zest is where you come to grab a healthy bite to eat. Although you’ll still find chocolates and cakes here, they are of the organic and raw variety, with plenty of gluten-, lactose- and sugar-free options. It’s not an ideal place to work as there’s no wifi but it is the perfect place to enjoy a nice cup of tea and some delicious snacks in a cosy environment without feeling guilty about it! There’s also salads, smoothies, weekly soups and delicious dumplings.
N. Strandgatan 17
11am-4pm weekdays and Saturdays, closed Sundays
Cost: Cup of tea (Pukka) 20 SEK, cappuccino 35 SEK.
Try: The vegetarian dumplings (69 SEK for 4 pieces + salad and dressing). These are handmade bundles of joy (you’ll need to wait about 15 mins for them to arrive at your table) filled with rice noodles, carrot, cabbage, zucchini, celery and mushrooms.
Sandy’s: Your second living room
Sandy’s ticks all the boxes: good opening hours, cosy atmosphere, ideal for both working and socialising, value for money and a decent selection of sweet treats and drinks. I always find myself returning here because it just feels like I’m at home. With its pastel tones, soft lighting, chill music and comfortable sofas, I often feel as though I could just as well be in my living room reading a good book. Sandy’s is best enjoyed on a rainy day.
9am-8pm weekdays, 10am-6pm Saturdays, 11am-6pm Sundays
Cost: Pot of tea 26 SEK, cappucino 32 SEK.
Try: The Early Grey De Luxe blend with milk (26 SEK) and the landslide brownie (35 SEK) with chocolate and caramel.
Artisan Bread: Weekend treat
Situated in Kasernhöjden, just a short cycle ride out of Karlstad, is the trendy Artisan Bread café with its attached Deli. Leave your work at home and come to enjoy a catchup with friends or family instead, all with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air. You can watch the baked goods being made through a window and even buy some loaves, tea or coffee to take home with you after your visit. Make sure you stop by the deli opposite the café before you leave.
8am-6pm weekdays, 8am-4pm Saturdays, 8am-3pm Sundays
Cost: Pot of tea 30 SEK, cappucino 30 SEK
Try: The freshly baked bread (pictured in the image above)
Wifi: Yes, ask at the counter for the password
Rosteriet: Coffee heaven
Rosteriet is a rather modern café attached to the Löfbergs coffee factory. I actually prefer tea to coffee most of the time but I usually take a coffee when I come here because it seems more appropriate! The service here is always great and it’s an ideal place both to work and meet friends. There are regular coffee tasting sessions and you can also buy packets of the famous Löfbergs bryggkaffe (Swedish drip-filtered coffee) to take home with you.
7.30-5pm weekdays, 10am-4pm Saturdays, closed on Sundays
Cost: Pot of tea 28 SEK (they do sell it, just ask the staff), cappuccino 38 SEK.
Try: Löfbergs own bryggkaffe – it seems a little wrong not to try some of the company’s own brew! You can watch it being made and packaged through the window of the factory next door.
Toilets: Yes. There are even real hand towels instead of paper to wipe your hands with in the bathroom. Random fact, but hey, I appreciate it!
Best for: Working or meeting friends
House of Melker: Shopping stop
I actually discovered House of Melker by accident as I was looking for a different café (I walked into the wrong shopping complex). But I was very glad I stumbled across this place! It’s technically a restaurant but I’ve only ever been here for afternoon snacks and it has some good ones. The cosy chairs at the back are perfect for sitting and working (though take some headphones if you don’t enjoy listening to Spotify’s top 100), while the ones by the window are ideal for cosy chats with friends overlooking the street. There’s a wide selection of cakes and other sweet things with lactose- and gluten-free options to cater to those with dietary requirements.
10am-6pm weekdays, 10am-4pm Saturdays, closed Sundays
Cost: Cup of tea 20 SEK, cappucino 30 SEK.
Try: The passionfruit and white chocolate cake (40 SEK).
Toilets: No, but there are toilets about 50m away in the shopping centre.
Coffice: Freelancer’s hangout
Coffice is a bit different from other cafés in Karlstad; it serves as a hangout for entrepreneurs and organises events outside opening hours such as swing dancing nights. It’s clear that things are still early days but I really hope it takes off because I enjoy coming here. And of course as a freelancer myself, I appreciate the concept behind it. If you want to work at the café, you can purchase half-day, day or monthly memberships which come with perks such as free coffee top-ups, use of the meeting room and speedy internet.
Västra Torgatan 10 (inside the Valet shopping complex)
7.30am-7pm weekdays, 10am-5pm Saturdays and Sundays
Cost: Cup of tea 25 SEK, cappuccino 35 SEK.
Try: The Darjeeling Earl Grey with a splash of milk or the Rooibos blend if you want to go caffeine-free.
Café Råtorp: Land of cake
Café Råtorp sits on the banks of the Klara River, directly opposite Löfbergs Lila Arena. It’s a bakery, cake shop and café all rolled into one. The pricing is relatively cheap compared to other places in town and its cake selection is delicious. With its cosy vibe and view of the water, it’s the perfect place to enjoy something sweet and sip a warm drink on a weekend. Take a friend or family member to enjoy the occasion with. And don’t just trust my judgement, this place was featured in the White Guide of Sweden’s best cafés for 2015-2016.
7am-6pm weekdays, 8am-3pm Saturdays, closed Sundays
Price: Tea 18 SEK, cappuccino 25 SEK
Try: The ‘Pink Lady’ cake, topped with glazed icing and filled with strawberry mousse, white chocolate and kladdkaka (a typical Swedish chocolate cake).
Swenströmskas: Fika favourite
This bakery is a favourite of many Karlstad residents. It’s got a really cosy vibe and I love the fact that you can watch the bakers preparing all the delicious baked treats through a glass window near the counter. The downside is that because it’s so popular it can sometimes get super busy and you won’t be able to find a table, especially during the afternoons. But I guess it just goes to show that people love to come here! Arrive early in the day and nab the seat by the window with the comfy cushions.
Östra Torggatan 16
7.30am-6pm weekdays, 8.30am-4pm Saturdays, closed Sundays
Price: Pot of tea 25 SEK, ‘honest brewed coffee’ 25 SEK, baked treats 25-45 SEK.
Try: Any of the baked goods (25-45 SEK), particularly on cinnamon bun or saffron bun day, when their own freshly-baked varieties will be there waiting for you!
Wifi: Yes. The network is appropriately named KanelbulleNetwork (cinnamon bun network). Ask for the code when you order at the front counter and they’ll write it down for you.
Carli Choklad: Chocoholic’s paradise
I used to only come to Carli Choklad for chocolate or ice cream on warm summer days but in my recent ‘research’ visits I discovered that Carli Choklad is also a really nice place to sit and work (probably because there’s no wifi so I actually get things done!) During school/work hours it’s relatively peaceful and quiet. My favourite thing about Carli’s is the incredible selection of teas and treats (just check out the picture of the front counter below!)
8am-7pm weekdays, 10am-5pm Saturdays, 12pm-5pm Sundays
Cost: Pot of tea 32 SEK, cappucino 35 SEK.
Try: The Bombay Chai tea with milk (32 SEK) or one of their hot chocolate varieties (39-45 SEK).
Are you a Karlstad local and know another café that you think should make the list? I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible in my ‘research’ but I may have skipped your favourite. Let me know why you love it and I’ll stop by and check it out. If I think it’s good enough, I’ll add it to the list!