Swedish Language Blog

Swedish Coffee Vocabulary Posted by on Apr 27, 2012 in Culture, Living in Sweden

It is a well known fact that Swedes drink a lot of coffee. The logical conclusion to draw of that is that there is a lot of different vocabulary that goes with that custom.

Lets start by looking at the different types of coffee:

1) Bryggkaffe: Brew coffee

2) Kokkaffe: Boiled coffee

3) Snabbkaffe: Instant coffee.

Kaffeost is a sort of cheese which originally comes from the north of Sweden/Finland (made from reindeer milk) and is eaten with coffee instead of what is called “kaffebröd” (little bit sweeter than normal bread ex: buns etc.) or the coffee cheese is put in the coffee and eaten together, sort of while drinking the coffee I suppose. If the cheese is served on the side the more often than not it is served together with cloudberry jam.


Since Swedish coffee is very strong many Swedes are quite disappointed with the coffee they taste outside of Sweden. Many consider it just muddy brown water, therefor calling it “blask”.


If you are asked if you want a påtår, it means they are asking you if you would like some more coffee, a refill. “Skulle du vilja ha en påtår?”. Pronounced på-tår.


A kafferep is sort of a “fika-stund” (fika-time) almost like a potluck in some senses, but only women allowed. It is said to have become really popular during the 1700-hundreds.  A “rep” is sort of a gathering where they used to rip material for stuffing or rip linen for bandages together. “Rep” can also have another meaning, “the sharing of costs”. Thereof the potluck idea some say.


This is a hard word to explain since not very many people know exactly where is came from. The Swedish word “tår” means tear, and so it has come to mean “a small amount of coffee”. In English there is also the expression of “a drop of…” then adding the name of a liquid.

Coffee in Sweden can be drunk at any time of day, and often completely black, very very strong. In the olden days many people drank coffee from a saucer, often putting a sugar cube on the saucer (or between their teeth) and then sipping the coffee together with it. Many people say “when in Rome do as the Romans do” well, that would mean drinking coffee in Sweden. A great experience to be sure.

Good phrases to know are:

“Ska vi ta en kaffe?” – “Should we go out and have a coffee?” (Quite a reasonable pickup line.)

“Dricker du kaffe?” – “Do you drink coffee?”

“Kaffe eller te?” – “Coffee or tea?”

“Hur tar du ditt kaffe?” – “How do you like your coffee?”

Vocabulary List:










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  1. site:

    Strange , this post shows up with a black color to it, what shade is the primary color on your web-site?

  2. Ali:

    Kaffe är ett- ord som har visas i “Hur tar du ditt kaffe?”. Värför säger man “ska vi ta en kaffe”? Det betyder en kopp kaffe?

  3. Kalle:

    Nice list. Just one thing though; It’s “Dricker du kaffe?” instead of “Drinker du kaffe?”.

  4. Simon:

    “Drinker du kaffe?” is incorrect. “Dricker du kaffe?” is correct.

  5. Simon:

    Jag ser att du är ganska observant 😉
    När man säger “en kaffe” så syftar man på en enhet av kaffe (vilket brukar vara just en kopp kaffe), precis som när man säger “en öl”. När man inte talar om kaffe som en enhet (kopp, mugg, etc), så är det alltid ett ett-ord så vitt jag vet.

  6. Glenn Johnson:

    Any idea what the expression “ahh sowee” might mean? It may have been a Swedish interjection meaning roughly “that’s strong!”