Kawaii cat cappuccino. RISØ Tromsø, Norway, takes coffee customization to the next level.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

If there was a must-visit café in Tromsø, then RISØ, located along Strandgata is it. A walk-past on most days will find this café filled with guests for want of an excellent, personalized cup of coffee. Their cinnamon rolls (closest to Swedish kanelbullar I’ve found here in Northern Norway) and coffee cake are good too.

Since moving to Tromsø in August, I’ve met a surprising number of visitors from the region of Southeast-Asia, a group of retired ladies from the Philippines who were on their way to see the northern lights, and a group of Singaporean students who had been touring Norway for the past two weeks where Tromsø was their northernmost stop before heading back to Oslo then Singapore. They have all visited RISØ for a cupppa. For anyone who still haven’t visited Tromsø, this is one of the friendliest and in many ways most remarkable cities on the globe. Bilbao, in Northern Spain comes to mind if you’re looking for anything comparable in terms of progressiveness and vibrance of living. Funnily enough, there are indeed many historical connection points, on many levels, between Tromsø Norway and Bilbao Spain, not least the culinary cod connection 1.

Being in the Arctic Circle, the question of daylight is always an issue that is brought to your attention by its never ending presence during the summer half of the year, or its near full absence during the winter ditto. I’m still being asked, “How are you finding the dark?”, often from perfect strangers I meet at bus-stops and and whilst standing in queue (to anything).

So how do Northern Norwegians deal with the polar light? Well, as far as I can tell, by creating an excellent and amiable range of various cafés and eateries that I think could keep anyone busy for a full year, after which you could start all over again. There are many things that fascinate me with the food scene here. One absolute overwhelming is the obsession of quality food ingredients. I think most of it is kortreist or, locally produced, fish being the most obvious example, almost flipping when it lands on your plate.

Right down to coffee bean selection you’ll find the obsession with high quality food and drinks, coupled with nice service making you feel right at home. To my great amusement I noticed in my cup that RISØ had taken coffee customization to the next level, when a happy cat face looked right back at me from my cappuccino. Much appreciated and totally kawaii 2.

  1. Brady, M. M. (2017). A curious culinary cod connection, The Norwegian American. Internet resource at https://www.norwegianamerican.com/featured/a-curious-culinary-cod-connection/. Retrieved 2 Dec. 2018.
  2. Kawaii refers to the Japanese popular culture of cuteness. As a lexical item, it also means cute or lovable.