In Sweden we love our coffee, and so-called boiled coffee (coarse ground and brought to the boil in a pan) is in many ways the national drink of Swedish Lapland. Preferably served with all the trimmings: coffee cheese, coffee meat, dried reindeer meat and reindeer tongue.

In the middle of the village square, a stone’s throw from the Silver Museum, you’ll find Arjeplogs Vilt & Kafe.

Step inside to try a coffee experience with a difference – and at the same time something that’s very traditional in Swedish Lapland. Order the Kaffetår and you’ll be served the kind of coffee we’ve been drinking in Sápmi for hundreds of years. Café owners Helena and Johnny Johansson ran a game store in Arjeplog for many years, but dreamt of expanding the business by opening a café. In the store on Drottninggatan it didn’t feel like a café would work though, so they waited. A couple of years ago the old café premises on the square became available and they saw it as an opportunity.
— As soon as we decided to make a go of it we also decided we’d do it our own way, Helena tells me one day as I walk in and order the Kaffetår.

Café owners Helena and Johnny Johansson.

The two of them, Helena and Johnny, wanted their selection from the game store to characterise the café as well, of course. An obvious way of doing this is allowing customers to try all the tasty products, but they also wanted to keep old traditions alive. Their food philosophy is also evident in the names of some of the sandwiches they serve – it has to be done properly, and it has to be real.

How about a sandwich called Full Speed Ahead, Hungry at Sea, the Reindeer Bull, or the Elk Hunting Rifle?

It kind of goes without saying they’re not small. Obviously they serve the traditional boiled coffee, and if you really want to experience the classic coffee culture of the Arctic, they also serve that very special cup of coffee we mentioned earlier: the Kaffetår.

Boiled coffee with refill, served with dried reindeer meat and coffee meat, reindeer tongue and coffee cheese. All the classic Arctic coffee trimmings.

Boiled coffee with refill, served with dried reindeer meat and coffee meat, reindeer tongue and coffee cheese. All the classic Arctic coffee trimmings. I’m actually not always that keen on dried reindeer meat in coffee myself; it’s a bit too lean and almost always a bit too salty and slightly smoked. But I love the other three ingredients. Roast coffee meat, preferably with a bit of fat, soaking up the coffee and leaving an oily surface on top as the fat melts – a pure lifesaver on a chilly autumn day.

Reindeer tongue is, of course, always a good thing. It’s fatter and tenderer than other tongue. You have to boil elk tongue for hours, for example, but reindeer tongue is ready almost as soon as it’s cooked through. Reindeer tongue is also a classic on the Christmas smorgasbord. In a Kaffetår from Arjeplogs Vilt & Kafe the fat in the tongue is heated up and melts on your palate wonderfully.

Coffee cheese gets a wonderfully squeaky texture while softening in your coffee.

Coffee cheese isn’t anything unusual either. Unpasteurized milk is used to make a fresh cheese quite similar to mozzarella. Some fry it or grill it, and the cheese Helena and Johnny sell is oven roasted. I prefer fresh coffee cheese.

Coffee cheese doesn’t taste much more than normal mozzarella, but it’s excellent at soaking up the flavours nearby. Whether it’s fried or fresh the other major characteristic of coffee cheese is the remarkable consistency, and that squeaking sound between your teeth when you chew. Coffee cheese in coffee boiled over an open fire; this is the epitome of Swedish Lapland for many.

Learn more
You can visit Arjeplog Vilt och Kafé, also called Viltbutiken, whenever your in town. And we do recommend that you do. Check out their Facebook-page (only in Swedish) for a look at what they have in stock. To learn more about where to stay in Arjeplog och what to do there, have a look at swedishlapland.com/arjeplog.

After enjoying both a refill and a second refill I browse the game shop for a bit. I buy some dried reindeer meat – I may not like it in coffee, but I like it a lot on its own. And sometimes as a snack with a glass of whisky. A coffee cheese finds its way into my shopping basket. I have a side of elk calf ribs at home already, so I can make my own coffee meat at home. But what about the reindeer tongue?
— You’re lucky, they’re slaughtering these days so we received four tongues yesterday, Helena says.
— Okay, I’ll take the lot. It’s nearly Christmas and no Christmas smorgasbord is complete without reindeer tongue.
— It’s tasty, for sure.

Then I head home. This evening I’ll cook the tongue and make my own coffee meat. If you’d like to prepare it yourself one day there’s one piece of advice I can give with regards to the reindeer tongue: do not eat the tip of the tongue! Sámi legends forbid it. Because if you do, you’ll probably start lying.

#visitarjeplog on instagram
Also read
  • Girls night out – hiking in Arjeplog

    Arjeplog claims to have an archipelago in the middle of the mountains. They also decided that it should never be impossible to reach the highest mountain. Even if it might be difficult to spell the name of the mountain in question sometimes.

    Annika Fredriksson
  • 38
    Places

    Iglootel in Arjeplog – a night in a House of Ice

    In one of Sweden's most scenic spots, on a promontory of Lake Hornavan, you'll find Arjeplog's own Iglootel. An ice house for those who want even more winter.

    Editor
  • 16
    Food

    Coffee made by lemmings

    If you’ve ever come across a lemming in Swedish Lapland, you probably thought of them as quite aggressive beings. Now we’ve gotten the inside scoop – they’ve just been frustrated and misunderstood. Markus Lemke lets us in on their secret message and the mission that him and his colleges have been assigned: to bless the world with dark roasted "kokkaffe".

    Therese Sidevärn