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Test of coffee on campus: The good, the bad and the one that tastes like tar

Coffee — From bog water to the elixir of life. At the University of Copenhagen, your favourite brew comes in all varieties. The University Post has checked out the cafés, the coffee machines, and the coffee powder stockpiles, and found the best (and worst) coffee spots.

This article was first published 27 Februar 2019. It has been updated 19 June 2019.

North Campus

1. The cross-disciplinary one: Caféen?

It is called the ‘Caféen?’, but it is actually more like a bar. And the beers usually get far more attention than the coffee. The coffee is in the corner of the bar and is free if you are a member. You can be a member for DKK 25 a year. The coffee either comes in porcelain mugs (and bring your own with you, they say) from an assorted collection, or in paper cups, and tastes as if it was brewed a few hours ago. There is no fresh milk, but there is coffee creamer and nice science students from various disciplines.

Price: Free (requires membership)
Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday 12-20, Thursday 12-22, Friday 12-03

2 The one with a disco: Studenterklubben

The medicine students’ underground student club scores many points just by being the only coffee spot with a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. Blue Irma-branded coffee is served, tea and various carbonated drinks – and when there is milk, you can get a bit in your coffee too. You can borrow games or read the day’s newspaper among the multitudes of medical students, who apparently don’t walk around in lab coats all the time. Disappointing. And then there is table football. A big plus.

Price: Free
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 11-17.

3. The inventive one: Biocentret

Every now and again at North Campus, you find the ‘fancy’ coffee machines which spit out something different from the normal, yesterday’s, brew. In the canteens at the H.C. Ørsted Insitute and in the August Krogh building, an espresso costs DKK 18, but at the Biocenter you can make do with a round DKK 10. If you mix it up with water, you get an americano. Now that’s clever. And don’t worry, if you would rather have the kind of coffee you know, you can get that too.

Price: DKK 5 for a small cup, DKK 10 for a large one.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 7:45–14:30, Friday 7:45–14

TIP: When we asked the students at the Faculty of Science where they preferred to take their daily caffeine fix, we got the following reply: ‘The canteen at the H.C. Ørsted Institute has probably the worst coffee at the University of Copenhagen’. So you should avoid that. Speaking of which, the researchers at Maersk Tower have coffee on tap. Like in water taps. For real.

South Campus

1. The much-loved: Helga

At South Campus, Helga is loved by all and sundry. Here you can drink fair-trade organic Peter Larsen coffee in soft leather sofas, while you practise memorising royal lineages. It is nice here, and the coffee is cheap. Rumours have it that students from the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies also traverse the roof terrace to enjoy Helga’s black gold. The musicians from the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies and a few stray lawyers have also been spotted here.

Price: DKK 4
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 9-17, Friday 9–23:45

2. The creative one: Roland Bar

In Roland Bar, which is mainly populated by students from the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, even the coffee tastes … creative. The coffee is, however, neither complex nor ornate, but Roland Bar is still a place you would like to hang out in. Everybody who comes through the door, is greeted with a welcome, and between the seats in the various levels and the board games, it feels a bit like being at home with your wacky aunt.

Price: DKK 5 (+ DKK 5 which you get back when you return your coffee cup)
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 9-17, Friday 9–23:45

3. For the weekend warriors: Hava Java

You always have your beans at hand at Hava Java in KUA1, KUA2 and KUA3. Among the humanists in KUA2 the coffee bar is called the Mødestedet or meeting place, while the lawyers at KUA3 have not yet named theirs. In KUA1 you’ll find the coffee shop as a part of the large canteen in building 23. It is not the cheapest coffee on campus, but it keeps the Copenhagen standard and the large cups are actually large. A huge plus. The Mødestedet is also open on both Saturday and Sunday. A giant plus.

Price: DKK 10, DKK 12 in a to go cup and DKK 8 if you bring your own cup
Opening hours: KUA1 and KUA3: Monday-Friday 7.30-16.30
KUA2: Monday-Friday 7.30-21, Saturday-Sunday 9-16.30

Frederiksberg Campus

1. The one with Liselotte: Gimle

Frederiksberg Campus has two canteens – Gumle and Gimle. Reliable sources say that you need to go to Gimle, when you need your coffee fix. Not because the coffee here is better than most other places, but because you will find Liselotte here, who is the world’s most committed and nicest canteen lady. During the day there is not much of a queue for the coffee, but during lunch break, there are white lab coats all the way down the stairs. So you have to either resign yourself to standing in a queue like on Black Friday or skip the coffee.

Price: DKK 5 for a small cup, DKK 10 for a large one.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 11–14, Friday 11–13:30

2. The one with a view: Væksthuset

In the beautiful gardens of the former Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, you will find one of the best cups of coffee of the University of Copenhagen with the most beautiful view. Unfortunately, it is probably also the most expensive. The Café Væksthuset greenhouse is cold (and closed) in winter, but in summer, the glass building is generally packed – and steaming hot. In view of the fact that it is a greenhouse, the temperature fluctuations make sense. Even though the coffee is way above average, it is difficult to determine whether it is worth the price.

Price: DKK 25 (including student discount)
Opening hours: (summer) Wednesday-Sunday 9-17

3. The one for the DIY people: The library

When you got desperate for coffee at the university library in Frederiksbreg, KUB Frb, in the old days, you would have been able to head for a monstrosity of a coffee machine. Unfortunately they have all been laid to rest. But nothing suggests that they will be replaced by another instant coffee with milk powder solution. But fear not! It is still possible to get your daily fix – if you just stay ahead a bit. The library has a nespresso machine for free use (we think), so if you bring your own cartridges, you can still get you a cup of black gold. The good news is that the capsules from the discount supermarket Netto work fine.

Price: The price of your capsules
Opening hours: Monday–Thursday 8–21, Friday 8–18, Saturday-Sunday: 10–17

TIP: Frederiksberg and North Campus are battling for the worst coffee of UCPH. »On a good day it is just bad,« said one student of natural resource management. For the late afternoons you can bring your own instant-mix and use the tea kitchenette at the main entrance on Thorvaldsensvej – or go to A-vej, which is the student bar on Dyrlægevej 7.

City Campus

1. The international Studenterhuset café

The Studenterhuset café is paradise for the international students, and the coffee can be enjoyed by everyone. Here you can get a barista coffee for a student discount, and all students at the University of Copenhagen get a discount on everything. This is a concept that you can understand. The filtered coffee is fine. Not exciting, but it is neither bitter nor watery. The cappuccino comes with a foamy kind of art, but varies in strength. With the price, quality, the number of power outlets and the option for you to bring your own food, this is clearly a recommended spot.

Price: DKK 12 and DKK 6 for a refill including student discount
Opening hours: Monday – Wednesday 9–23.45, Thursday 9-01, Friday 9–03, Saturday 10-02, Sunday 10-22

2. The one with the queue: Kommunen

The Kommunen is the beating heart of the Center for Health and Society (CSS) campus, both when it comes to Friday bars and thirst for coffee. The coffee is from Peter Larsen – and both organic, fair trade, and cheap. Unfortunately this is nothing that you should write a letter home about. The coffee in the 12 different thermos jugs waiting for the coffee-hungry hordes, switches between being unusually watery and a kind of tar-like black. But there is both a wide selection of milks, the option of ½ litre cups and chocolate biscuits for a krone – and this really helps things.

Price: DKK 4 for a small cup, DKK 8 for a large one.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8-16.

3. The undefinable: Jacques Delors

In a basement at the Center for Health and Society there is a monstrosity of a coffee machine. The coffee machine belongs to the political science students’ Friday bar and hangout – Jacques Delors, and it can really spit out a lot of interesting drinks. It is open, when everything else is closed, but it should only be used in desperate cases. The brown substance in the cup is at best suspect, and you cannot taste the difference between latte, cappuccino and wiener melange.

Price: DKK 3
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8-20.

TIP: There is an unknown, blessed, soul who has donated an electric kettle to the reading room in the corridor in building 4, so you can slurp instant coffee at any time of day. Alternatively, you can even brew mocha in the kitchen that is located by the sociologists’ and anthropologists’ common room, the Katedralen.

Translated by Mike Young