New Swedish coffee spot serves bold brew in downtown West Palm Beach

There’s a reason for the chandeliers at Johan’s Joe, the sleek, new Swedish coffee shop in downtown West Palm Beach.

You don’t grab-and-go at a place with chandeliers. You sit and enjoy your hot brewed coffee in a proper ceramic cup, in a plush, deep-violet, Alice-In-Wonderland-like chair, at a glossy, minimalist table.

You don’t come here for a high-octane, Sharpie-on-paper-cup, American coffee run. You come here for a fika, a leisurely, Swedish-style coffee break.

At a fika, one does not bark java code at the barista. One contemplates the luxurious array of pastries and selects a sweet pairing for that Swedish coffee.

And, yes, that’s Abba on the sound system. “Because it makes you smile,” says Nicklas “Nicke” Thuden, the Swedish, Nick Carter-lookalike who co-owns Johan’s Joe with his business partner and husband of six years, Bernt “Tudde” Thuden.

The couple ran a fika spot in Stockholm for nearly 15 years before selling it and moving to West Palm Beach.

“We take coffee very seriously in Sweden. When we got here, we tasted the American coffee and …” says Nicke, puckering his face to denote what he thought of the Americano stuff.

The new shop opened three months ago, bringing a clean Scandinavian aesthetic to the corner of South Dixie Highway and Fern Street. Sidewalk tables welcome you to a spacious café appointed with stylish reindeer motifs and white leather sofas, and punctuated by those chandeliers the Thudens purchased in Stockholm.

“We want to show people a different kind of coffee shop,” says Nicke, who concedes the first few weeks were slow at the counter-service café. “But the best advertising for us has been the customers themselves. They come back. I think they like us.”

Those who come for the décor and vibe will find a chill space for reading, for conversation and for enjoying a meal. Those who come for the joe will find ecologically friendly Swedish coffee that’s bold yet smooth and leaves no aftertaste. The shop owners brew (and also sell packages of) Löfbergs Lila coffee, roasted in Karlstad, Sweden.

“For a fika, you take a brewed coffee and maybe a cardamom bun – always with a pastry,” says Nicke.

For the pairing, there are plenty of breads, pastries and chocolates, some made on premises, others baked at the Polar Scandinavian bakery in Atlantis. And beyond the sweets, there are salads, sandwiches, breakfast dishes, Swedish pancakes and heftier entrées, such as Swedish meatballs with béchamel sauce, crepes, and salmon dishes.

“We want to promote Sweden a little bit. We want to let people here experience Sweden,” says Nicke, who reports that large brunch crowds pack the place on Sundays.

As for the name, the couple that ran Nicke and Tudde’s Café in Stockholm for so many years opted for the more accessible “Johan’s Joe.”

“It’s a family name,” says Nicke. “We wanted to make it easier for Americans to say.”

At present, the café is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekends to 4 p.m. The owners have applied for a beer and wine license and, once they get it, they plan to extend hours Thursday, Friday and Saturday to 9 p.m.

“So people can come when it’s dark outside and enjoy the chandeliers,” says Nicke. “And the Champagne.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community

10 style trends for 2018
10 style trends for 2018

With a new year fast approaching, what’s in and what’s out? As 2017 rolls out and 2018 ushers in, there are some clear design trends that are taking shape. Many are tied to lifestyle trends now impacting home decor. Design Recipes has compiled a list of trends we see taking shape in 2018. 1. Local materials. Similar to the farm-to-table...
Soak up the seafood at Mussel Beach
Soak up the seafood at Mussel Beach

MENU The star here is none other than the namesake shellfish itself. Be the master of your mussels, which you can curate in 12 fashions — from chowder or lobster bisque style to Italian or Thai — and any add-ins along the way. Other options include five kinds of fish done seven ways, or stay closer to shore with pastas, burgers and sandwiches...
Golden Berry hollies, dazzling in the winter landscape
Golden Berry hollies, dazzling in the winter landscape

Here at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, we are like the holly headquarters for the Low Country. We’ve got the imports, the hybrids, and fantastic natives that most have never seen. Two of my favorites are outstanding deciduous natives, the possumhaw (Ilex decidua) and the winterberry (Ilex verticillata). The possumhaw is native to 19 states...
Naval architect designs his own otherworldly lunar lander
Naval architect designs his own otherworldly lunar lander

BEVERLY, Wash. — Houston, we have a project. Technically, it is not a starship, but it certainly has proved quite the enterprise. Our DIY commander, Kurt Hughes, has systematically designed and built his very own livable, lovable lunar lander, securely perched on an acre of peaceful Central Washington terrain. It is out-of-this-world spectacular...
Help make a difference in a healthier food system with seed catalogs
Help make a difference in a healthier food system with seed catalogs

“I believe that the positive power of seeds is the best way to accelerate our transition to a healthier food system,” says Tom Stearns, owner and founder of High Mowing Organic Seeds. He wants to help us all make a difference in the world with the great new 2018 catalog. A whopping 112 pages of full color veggies and flowers means the resource...
More Stories