Scandinavian Embassy

 

Scandinavian Embassy in Amsterdam, Netherlands is a white den of Nordic delight.  Allow time to enjoy.

Rise Rating: 80%

The Obsidian Rise diagram above provides a visual for the rating explained in writing, below.  From left to right—

Story (3/3): I can clearly remember my first visits to Scandinavian Embassy in 2014.  After having recently moved to Amsterdam, I’d been introduced to the award-winning cafe’ by a friend of a friend.  In the following weeks, I spent many hours there at the bar, enjoying hearing Swedish Co-founder Rikard Andersson’s stories about his obsession with finding only the best ingredients and then curating them to perfection.  Voices circulated that the establishment was striving to bring the excellence of a Michelin-starred restaurant to a coffee house, and the pure joy and care behind each product that it served came through.  Several years later, second Co-founder and coffee champion Nicolas Castagno is running the show, and much remains the same.  He can still be found behind the bar on most days, shyly greeting familiar faces.  The clean warmth of the eatery hasn’t changed one bit.  And, although some of the menu offerings have evolved from haute to hearty, Scandinavian Embassy persists in its embodiment of quality with a relaxed vibe.

Sustainability (3/3): The cafe’ is a great example of an establishment that leads by doing.  Although Scandinavian Embassy does not exaggerate its branding as a sustainable coffee house, there are many ways in which one can feel that it is when visiting.  For years, for instance, it was difficult to obtain a napkin there; now, if you ask for one, you’ll get one.  Just one.  This philosophy of not giving or taking more than what’s needed is also present in the dishes that it offers, which are sized to be just right, or even on the small side.  As a result, I could guarantee that this eatery sees close to zero food waste.  If you would really like a tiny bit more dark bread with your meal?  Then you will be served two slices— not more.  This special Scandinavian bread was also said to be the only thing on the menu not made in-house, but instead sourced from a local baker.  Base ingredients are in general sourced as sustainably as possible.  And the design is simple and pure— just white brick and natural wood, with a garden out back.

Experience (2/3): A few hours at Scandinavian Embassy always brings a slow joy to a morning or afternoon.  It is also smile-inducing to find that without fail, entering the small coffee house feels like having happened upon a well-known secret, for the one-room establishment is consistently full of casual intellectuals, waiting patiently for their special caffeine intake or healthy bites.  The straightforward Nordic design is easy on the mind, and the servers are always so humble that they’re almost apologetic when asking if you’ve yet to order or have everything that you need.  While the crowd and deliberation of the cooks and baristas can sometimes create a long wait, it also somehow feels like this delay has been strategically engineered to stop a frenetic pace, or to ease one into the moment.  Just don’t arrive in immediate need of consuming something.

Cuisine (2/3): Despite the culinary half of the co-founding pair having since moved back to Sweden, many of the favorites that Andersson developed are still available, albeit in more nourishing rather than competitively artistic forms.  The ‘Gravlax’ of specially cured salmon and poached egg persists as a best seller, as do varying types of Nordic oatmeal and muesli bowls.  Additional savory dishes rotate with the seasons.  And, stay tuned for an upcoming focus on Scandinavian pastries, as the Embassy’s cinnamon buns and other sweet yet healthy treats always seem to disappear as fast as they’re set out.

Lastly, a review of Scandinavian Embassy would not be complete without mention of its beverage selection, which spans the spectrum of healthy (flower teas and other infusions), quirky (never-been-heard-of tonics and kombuchas) and on-trend (Ethiopian espressos, pulled only as ristretti or flat whites with perfect flavor profiles).  The house’s multiple “Best of” awards and workshops for aspiring baristas are proof that its core pursuit of coffee excellence alongside remaining Co-founder Castagno remains strong.

Diversity (2/3): Legend has it that the name, Scandinavian Embassy, came from the founders’ wish to bring the region’s culture and flavors to Amsterdam.  Historically, only food and beverage aficionados originally from Nordic countries would work at the coffee house, although more recently I’ve caught at least a Dutch person or two loving their employment there as well.  A mixture of ages and genders can be found behind the bar on any given day, and the newest Co-owner, Daniella Nyström, is female. As per the above, there is also variety (although with an abbreviated selection) in the types of dishes and drinks that are served.

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