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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.”

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