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21 September 2017

Curated Brew Reviewed

The range of speciality coffee subscription services available these days is impressive, if a little overwhelming. For some time, I’ve received regular coffee deliveries from Pact Coffee. For maximum convenience, I get usually get Pact Coffee delivered to the office, and then stock my home ‘brew bar’ with coffee beans I’ve either bought in London or picked up on my travels.

It’s hard not to experience FOMO when I see people sharing their photos of really great coffee they’ve received from other subscription services — particularly those services that offer beans from a rotating selection of coffee roasters from the UK, continental Europe and beyond. I live by myself, however, and despite my best efforts there is only so much speciality coffee one woman can drink (and afford).

But when I first read about Curated Brew, thanks to a tip from London’s Best Coffee, I thought its focus on high-quality coffee from some of Europe’s best established and up-and-coming roasters, combined with the convenience of being able to pause or cancel one’s subscription at any time would suit me well. I signed up for Curated Brew four months ago — although because I skipped one delivery while I was in Boston, I’ve received three bags of coffee beans — and thought it was time to share my experiences.

First, and most importantly, the coffee has been fantastic. I received beans from one of my favourite Swedish roasters Koppi, Berlin’s excellent Five Elephant and the wonderful Danish Coffee Collective.

The Koppi beans in particular — a Finca El Porvenir coffee from Colombia — were awesome, with chocolate and berry notes when brewed through my Aeropress (first photo below), and it tasted just as good as a piccolo. Five Elephant’s Kenyan Kamwangi AA coffee, meanwhile, had lovely, light, floral notes brewed as a pourover (second photo below). Finally, Coffee Collective's Halo Yirgacheffe coffee had a delightfully complex taste, with nice peachy notes coming through. I've pulled a couple of good Halo espresso shots at home too. 

Some, although not all, of the coffee packages came with a card with more information about the roaster and the coffee. I loved all three coffees, but I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to try out a new-to-me roaster. Unfortunately, the month I skipped would have given me that opportunity, as the featured coffee was from Danish roaster April. September's coffee, which I am skipping, is from Colonna, and I'm sure it will be wonderful, although again, it's a roaster I'm familiar with already. Another minor frustration for me was that some months, the identity of the month's featured roaster was only revealed several weeks after I had been billed. It’s nice to be surprised (says the woman who plans every last thing!), but knowing what the coffee will be before I pay for it would help me decide whether I might want to skip a month.

Curated Brew costs £11.95 per month, including delivery, for a 250g bag of beans, which you can have as whole-bean or ground. This isn’t particularly cheap but it is excellent value given the quality of the coffee. The customer service has been great too — whenever I have emailed with a question, I have received a swift response.

All of that being said, I am not sure that Curated Brew is the service for me — at least for now — and this is solely because it doesn't suit my coffee lifestyle. Understandably, you can only receive the coffee at one specific point in the month — generally, although not always, the last week of the month. As I travel frequently and like to bring home coffee beans, this inflexibility makes it hard to plan and means I risk having a surplus or shortage of beans. Moreover, one of the reasons I signed up was the ability to pause or skip deliveries online but there isn’t an option on my account page (other than the 'cancel' button, which feels rather final) and instead, I had to email to get my account paused. This is not a huge amount of effort, of course, but more control would be much better.

If you like receiving excellent coffee from some really great roasters and don't have the same ‘stock control’ issues as I do, I think you might get on rather well with Curated Brew. I have currently paused/cancelled my account — I will be travelling a lot over the next couple of months, but I'm not sure that I will resubscribe when I get back. However, I will certainly continue to follow Curated Brew with interest — I suspect that as they grow, there will be more flexibility. The option to just buy a single bag of beans without subscribing would be really useful, for example, so that I didn't miss out on a must-try coffee.

19 September 2017

The Caffeine Chronicles: Stir Coffee, Brixton

Finding myself — unusually — with plans in Clapham on Saturday, I took the opportunity to visit a new-to-me coffee shop on the way. The Black Lab, on Clapham Common's Southside, would have been the closest coffee bar but I've already been a couple of times (it's great), so I had to look a little further afield. In the end, I decided to go to Stir Coffee on Brixton Hill, which has been on my list for a while.

When I'm in Brixton, I tend to hang out in and around Brixton Market; Stir Coffee is about a half-mile south of there and the Tube. On Saturday, I had already eaten lunch closer to home at the Bermondsey Street Festival, and although Stir serves food, I was hoping to miss the brunch/lunch rush. It was still pretty busy when I arrived, with a queue soon forming behind me. Inside, it's a cosy, rustic space with bar stools at the windows, a few tables in the front and on the pavement, and more seating in the back room. The exterior suggests that the site may once have been a pub.

As there were both V60 and Aeropress (£4) options on the menu, I asked what was on offer at the brew bar, but was persuaded to try the batch-brew filter coffee (£2.40), a Kenyan Mchana AA coffee from Round Hill Roastery, which had been selling extremely well. I also ordered a piccolo (£2.40) and, from the selection of nice-looking cakes on the counter, I plumped for a brownie (£2.90).

I nabbed one of the stools by the window and before long, the piccolo and the brownie arrived. Learning from previous mistakes, I saved the latter until after I'd tried both coffees to avoid overriding my palate with its rich, chocolatey, salted-caramel deliciousness (yes, it was great!).

The piccolo was excellent too. I didn't check which of the Round Hill coffees was in the hopper, but the flavours of the espresso were very well-balanced, making for a smooth taste that paired well with my sweet treat. It was well-prepared too, the latte art prevailing right down to the bottom.

The filter coffee arrived soon afterwards and given its rave reviews, I was slightly underwhelmed as to me, it was a little on the weak side, making it hard to pull out the blackcurrant notes I might have expected. A new batch had just been brewed and I suspect I was just unlucky. I thought about trying the coffee as a V60 as well, but ran out of time.

As I said, though, the piccolo was excellent and I otherwise really enjoyed my time at Stir. It was bustling and lively on a Saturday afternoon and the service was really good — well worth the short walk from central Brixton.

Stir Coffee. 111 Brixton Hill, Brixton, London, SW2 1AA (Tube: Brixton). Website. Twitter. Instagram.

15 September 2017

Oslo Speciality Coffee Guide

Oslo's city centre is relatively compact but the coffee-loving Norwegian capital is home to countless coffee shops and some top-notch speciality coffee roasters. I packed in visits to quite a few during my recent trip, and I had some particularly excellent hand-brewed (håndbrygget) filter coffees while I was there. I also enjoyed many of the cortados and piccolos I tried, although prepare to be asked whether you'd like a single or double shot (and, in some cases, how much milk you want). This being Norway, the coffee was on the pricey side: most cortados cost about 40 NOK (about £4) for a double, while hand-brewed filter coffees tended to run at between 40 and 60 NOK (£4–6).

I chose to stay in the arty Grünerløkka neighbourhood mainly because of its proximity to some of the city's best coffee shops and micro-roasteries (many of the bigger roasteries are located further outside the city centre, of course). This meant that all of the speciality coffee shops listed below were within easy walking distance, but if you stay centrally, you will probably not be too far from the good coffee.

Tim Wendelboe
Top of my list of coffee spots to hit, Tim Wendelboe, needs no introduction. The roaster is considered one of Europe's best speciality coffee roasters and I've enjoyed some beautiful Tim Wendelboe coffees over the years. It was no coincidence that their Grünerløkka espresso bar, roastery and training centre was just four minutes' walk from my hotel.

I was first through the door when the coffee bar opened at 11:00 on Saturday morning. It took me a while to decide which of the extensive list of single-origin coffees to try, though, and a queue had formed by the time I'd made up my mind, although thanks to the efficient and friendly baristas, it was soon my turn.

The coffee bar is small with only a few seats and spots to perch inside, and a few more out on the pavement, although the inclement weather during my visit turned me off that idea. The décor is rustic and minimalist; I particularly liked the turquoise chairs. There was also a cupping session taking place in the adjacent training room. It was fully booked, so I couldn't join in, unfortunately, although with such a hectic coffee agenda that day, perhaps that was for the best.

I ordered a Caballero Geisha from Honduras, brewed through the Aeropress, as well as a cortado with a different Honduran Caballero. The cortado was nice, but it was the filter coffee that really stood out. The lovely papaya notes of the coffee came through beautifully and it was impeccably brewed. In fact, I knew then that I wanted to buy some beans to take home. It was only when I got to the front of the queue that I noticed the 299 NOK (£30) price tag — almost twice the price of the other beans. But the coffee was one of the best filter coffees I've had all year, so I bit the bullet and sunk all my home-coffee-bean funds into this one bag. I have been enjoying it at home this week too, so I have no regrets.

Tim Wendelboe is located at Grüners gate 1, 0552 Oslo. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Supreme Roastworks
Ten minutes' walk north of Tim Wendelboe, Supreme Roastworks' cosy coffee bar and roastery occupies a small space at the top of Thorvald Meyers gate. I arrived during the lunchtime rush but managed to nab a seat at the L-shaped coffee bar. There are also a few small tables in the main room and some more seating the next room, which also houses the roaster.

There were three single-origin coffees available as a V60 pourover: a Colombian, a Kenyan and an Ethiopian. I followed the friendly barista's enthusiastic recommendation and opted for the latter, a Diima Guji. As I was sitting right next to the brew bar, I could smell from a metre away how great a coffee it was going to be, and after my first sip, savouring the floral, pineapple and passionfruit notes, I was not disappointed. I had other plans for lunch but if you're in need of a quick bite, they serve a few sandwiches and cakes.

Supreme Roastworks is located at Thorvald Meyers gate 18A, 0474 Oslo. Website. Instagram.

Solberg & Hansen Concept Store
Established in 1879, speciality coffee and tea company Solberg & Hansen puts the 'old' in the 'old guard of Oslo's coffee scene'. Their roastery is located to the east of the city centre so I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to sample their coffee, but then I happened upon their concept store inside the foodie hotspot that is Mathallen.

The Solberg & Hansen concession occupies a good-sized space in a bright corner of Mathallen. A septet of Kalita Wave drippers was ready and waiting on the counter, and the menu included three single-origin coffees, from Ethiopia, Colombia and Papua New Guinea. I tried the Ethiopian Tade, which had bright citrus and bergamot notes that came through very nicely in the well-brewed drink. The care and attention to detail the staff put in to their work really showed. And if you're a tea-drinker, there were three teas on offer from S&H's collection, as well as many more available to buy for home brewing.

Solberg & Hansen Concept Store is located at Mathallen, Maridalsveien 17, 0178 Oslo. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Hendrix Ibsen
The closest coffee shop to my hotel (it was right next door), Hendrix Ibsen, was also one of the coolest. It's a bar and vinyl shop as well as a coffee bar and even early on a Friday afternoon, there was a relaxed but fun atmosphere.

They take their coffee seriously, though, with beans from Norwegian roaster Kaffa, whose coffee I tried at various cafés during my visit. At Hendrix Ibsen, I ordered a cortado with their house espresso — Kaffa's Kiaragana. My coffee came in a Kaffeeform cup and was nicely prepared. There aren't any hand-brewed filter coffees on the menu, but they do serve cold brew, nitro cold brew and espresso tonic, if you're playing it cool.

Hendrix Ibsen is located at Vulkan 16, 0178 Oslo. Website. Instagram.

I didn't have time to stop for coffee at cycle store/cafe-bar Oslovelo, as I'd spent too long sheltering from the rain in Supreme Roastworks and was late for lunch. I did pop inside, though, and it looked like a nice spot. They serve Supreme Roastworks coffee but I didn't spot an espresso machine so I suspect it's probably filter-coffee only.

Oslovelo is located at Seilduksgata 23A, 0553 Oslo. Website. Instagram.

St Hanshaugen
Up on the hill in leafy St Hanshaugen, Java was perhaps the most welcoming of all the coffee shops I visited (which is saying something because everyone was very friendly). I visited on Sunday morning and the small, beautifully tiled coffee bar was very busy indeed. There were lots of families there and clearly lots of regulars coming in for coffee, breakfast and chats.

There were no fewer than seven single-origin Kaffa coffees available as hand-brewed filter coffee. I decided to go for the Kenyan Kiaragana, which I had also tried in the cortado I had at Hendrix Ibsen. I think the coffee worked better as a filter coffee, its tart notes accentuated sans milk. I took a seat in the window, which was great for people-watching. If the weather is fine, you can also grab one of seats out front.

Java is located at Ullevaalsveien 47, 0171 Oslo. Website.

There are dozens of branches of Kaffebrenneriet all over Oslo, but I decided to visit their Grønland location, which is based inside a 150-year-old fire station. I particularly liked the use of a portafilter as the door handle, but there are lots of nice design features inside too. The cafe occupies a large space with high ceilings, exposed-brick walls and plenty of seating. The coffee bar runs the length of one wall and the baristas will happily prepare an espresso-based drink or a svart kaffe (black coffee). There are two batch-brew filter coffee options, which change regularly, while the espresso is usually the Klassisk espresso blend.

I had already had several filter coffees that day, so I ordered a cortado, which was really good. It was also one of the few cortados I had in Oslo that came with latte art. The milk was well steamed and textured, and the design lasted down to the bottom of the cup. There was also a large selection of beans available for purchase; some of the Cup of Excellence beans looked very good.

Kaffebrenneriet is located at Grønlandsleiret 32, 0190 Oslo. Website. There are more than 30 other locations across Oslo.

Coffee bar and vintage store by day, and cocktail joint by night, Fuglen is my kind of place. The sun was over the yardarm on my first visit so I sampled the libations, but I came back to check out the coffee. There were beans for sale from Kaffa and Tim Wendelboe, and from Langøra, which had some beautiful retail packaging.

I ordered a cortado with a Kaffa espresso, and it came served in a tall shot glass, which made it a little hard to judge when to say 'when' on the milk front. The coffee was nice, though: smooth and chocolatey. I enjoyed sipping my drink on one of the vintage chairs set out on the sunny pavement.

Fuglen is located at Universitetsgata 2, 0164 Oslo. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

Steam Kaffebar
Located inside Oslo's central station, Steam Kaffebar is just opposite the Oslo Visitor Centre, which is how I found it. Lured in by the colourful Lippe Kaffe packaging, I decided to stop by for a quick cortado. Like at Fuglen, it came in a tall shot glass and again, I wasn't very good at the 'how much milk would you like?' game. The coffee was good, though, and the cafe is a good bet if you're looking for a decent coffee stop in or near the station.

Steam Kaffebar is located at Jernbanetorget 1, 0154 Oslo. Website. Instagram. There are two other Oslo branches.

I found out only after booking that three weeks after my trip, an Oslo coffee festival, in the form of Kaffikaze, would be taking place at the Vulkan Arena, a few doors down from my hotel in Grünerløkka. (If you happen to be in town, Kaffikaze is on Saturday 30 September 2017 and you can buy tickets here.)

13 September 2017

Long Weekend in Oslo: Bex's Guide

I love spending time in the Nordic countries but visiting can be expensive, which is one of the reasons why their capitals make such great city-break destinations. Over the past few years, I have been doing just that, making three- or four-day trips to Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Reykjavik. Last on my list was the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and when in April I found a Norwegian Air return for just £50, I snapped it up, even though I was also saving up for the costly four-week trip I am taking in October. And yes, Oslo can be eye-wateringly expensive, but I found a few ways to keep costs down and had an enjoyable three-day trip, which also prompted me to add a longer trip to Norway to my travel to-do list.

Accommodation: Try to book your accommodation as early as possible. Technically, the second weekend in September is outside the 'high' season (which seems to end around 20 August), but hotel rooms were still expensive. I knew I wanted to stay in the arty/hipster neighbourhood of Grünerløkka, a mile or so north of the central station, which is where a lot of the good coffee shops are located. There are more cheaper options nearer the station but I think Grünerløkka is a more pleasant area to stay in. This limited my options somewhat, but I found a room at PS:hotell in on Vulkan — a former industrial area turned trendy quartier with restaurants, bars, and arts and culture spaces — in the heart of Grünerløkka for 800 Krone (about £77) per night.

My room was minimalist but clean, comfortable and quiet, despite overlooking busy Vulkan. I'm not usually swayed by a free breakfast (I prefer to find my own), but in Oslo, one shouldn't look a gift horse — or free meal — in the mouth... The hotel employs staff through Norway's social welfare system, providing training and experience to help staff get permanent jobs. There were a couple of minor kinks (reception wasn't staffed when I was trying to pick up my bag, which meant I almost missed my airport train) but generally everything worked well, and the location can't be beaten.

Arriving: Oslo's Gardermoen Airport is about 30 miles north of the city centre. For 180 NOK (£17) each way, you can take the Flytoget Airport Express, which as frequently as every 10 minutes will get you to Oslo central station in about 20 minutes. Just a couple of minutes slower and slightly less regular, the NSB trains cost 93 NOK (£9) each way. I took this latter option, of course, and was in the city centre under an hour after touching down. There are also various airport express coaches, which take about 50 minutes and cost about 160 NOK (£15) one way.

Money: There are currently about 10.34 Norwegian Krone (NOK) to the British pound, which makes conversions easy if sometimes painful. I didn't take out any cash and my credit card was accepted everywhere. Many shops, cafes and restaurants also supported contactless payment. I had read various opinions on whether to tip in Norwegian restaurants, the consensus being that it is by no means compulsory but that tips of between 5 and 20% would be very well-received, depending on the type of establishment. One thing that took a little getting used to was that when presented with the card-reader, you have to enter the total amount you wish to pay (including the tip) before entering your pin. As I hadn't quite got into NOK mode yet, this extra step meant I sometimes tipped slightly more generously than I intended and sometimes slightly less so. I hope it balanced out in the end.

Even if you go to Oslo in the height of summer, good weather is by no means a sure thing. A week before my trip, I noted the forecast of solid rain for the next ten days, and this didn't change so I packed and planned accordingly. I arrived at lunchtime on Friday, and the rain did end up holding off until Saturday, when it poured down. Sunday, meanwhile, started out gloriously sunny and then swiftly switched back to downpours in the afternoon. The lesson, then, is that you should bring an umbrella and/or raincoat whenever you come. A short visit meant I had to plan my activities around the weather — and the fact that almost all shops are closed on Sundays. Here are some of the things I did:

Museums. The unexpected sunshine meant that I only ended up visiting the small but interesting National Museum — architecture (50 NOK), rather than also going to its larger sibling, the National Gallery (100 NOK, although this also includes admission to the architecture museum). A new museum including art, architecture and design will open in 2020. I'm not that into Munch, so I skipped the Munch Museum, but with more time, I'd have liked to pay a visit to the Ibsen Museum.

City centre sights. I saw the Oslo Opera House several times, and every time I approached the striking, modernist building — constructed in 2008, designed to resemble a glacier and located on the waterfront — the heavens opened. You can climb the sloping sides to reach the roof (I ended up getting soaked when I did) and they also do guided tours of the building.

Akershus Fortress. A little further west, this castle sits splendidly on top of a hill overlooking the city and the bay. There is an admission fee but you can walk around the grounds for free. (Aker crops up in several Oslo place names but is the name of the river that flows through the city centre.) Det Kongelige Slott (royal palace). For a more traditional architectural stroll, head through the park surrounding the 19th century palace, and then down the hill past the university buildings, the National Theatre and the National Gallery.

Aker Brygge. A former shipyard turned smart shopping and dining area. It's also worth visiting if you like modern architecture, and the Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley Museum is located here.

Grünerløkka strolling. The Grünerløkka neighbourhood is a great place to explore, with plenty of historic buildings, colourful street art and interesting shops and eateries. I went for a run along the Akerselva River, which runs down from Lake Maridalsvannet to the north. It is very steep northbound, but there are waterfalls and public artworks to keep you entertained.

Two streets with particularly pretty colourful houses are Damstredet and Telhusbakken, both on the hill just west of Vulkan and the Elva river. The pond on the corner of Damstredet and Akersveien is a particularly good spot for reflected photos of the colourful houses.

Island hopping. There are several small islands within easy reach of the Oslo waterfront. When the sun came out on Sunday, I wasted no time in heading out to Hovedøya, the closest one, and a mere nine-minute ferry trip from the Aker Brygge piers. Ferries run frequently and a single ticket costs about 33 NOK (you can buy one from the machine — note that there isn't anywhere to buy tickets on Hovedøya, so I ended up downloading the Ruter Billett app to buy my return ticket; you can also purchase tickets on the boat for a surcharge). I spent a happy hour on Hovedøya walking the trails, exploring the ruins of a 12th century monastery and picnicking on a quiet beach with fjord views. In the summer, you could probably make an afternoon of it but I got back just before the rain started.

Fjord boat trip. Two-hour boat trips into the fjord run from the piers in front of the city hall a few times a day (299 NOK). Longer and shorter trips are also available. I decided to go on Friday afternoon, as the weather forecast was the most promising (cold and cloudy but no rain). I did enjoy the trip — the scenery was beautiful — and I was grateful that it didn't rain but if you get a sunny day, that's the day to do this trip. If it's cold, bundle up, but if it's clear and sunny, the fjord and the islands will look so much more attractive than on a grey, cloudy day.

As usual, I will be putting together a separate Oslo speciality coffee guide, but suffice to say, there is plenty of coffee in the city, including some really exceptional coffee. In the meantime, here are some of the other food and drink experiences I enjoyed:

For a fast but hip burger joint... Illegal Burger. I came here straight after I arrived, hungry and in need of sustenance. You can order most of the burgers as beef, fish or veggie (not the fish/vegan ones, though, the menu points out kindly). I had the cheese royale, which cost about £9.50 and tasted great. The small, minimalist restaurant is attractively designed and the staff are lovely (the server came running after me to return the scarf I'd left behind). There are a few other similar hipster-burger-bars in town, such as Munchies, but this is the original and supposedly the best.

For picnic supplies... Gutta på Haugen. I picked up a mortadella sandwich and some a few other bits from this lovely deli in St Hanshaugen. I took my picnic out to Hovedøya Island, but there's a nice park across the street from Gutta too. They also have a concession in Mathallen (see below).

For satisfying a sweet tooth... W.B. Samson. There are over 20 branches of this popular bakery in and around Oslo, including one at the airport. Their kanelboller (cinnamon buns) have been voted Oslo's best and although my sample size was small, I really enjoyed mine. The sørlandsboller (filled with cream and covered in chocolate) looked amazing too!

For a comforting lunch... Trattoria Popolare. I sought shelter from the rain in this cool Grünerløkka trattoria, ordering a huge bowl of the pasta of the day (spaghetti with fresh tomato, tarragon and breadcrumbs; about £13). It was delicious and filling; the ravioli looked great too.

For when you can't decide what to eat... Mathallen. This meat market turned gourmet food court is filled with food shops and small eateries, serving everything from seafood, to tacos, to confit de canard. In an effort to save money, I ordered the fish burger from Vulkanfisk, which was nice, but their fish and chips looked amazing. The shops shut at 7 pm most days, but the eateries tend to stay open later.

For creative small plates in a friendly, neighbourhood restaurant... Smalhans. There are five- and seven-dish menus available if you book, but walk-ins can mix and match from the set and à la carte menu. The cuisine is Scandinasian! I had some delicious pork cheek tacos with kimchi, a charcuterie plate served with a lovely beetroot and hazelnut salad, and some amazing churros. This plus a cocktail cost about £50, but the food was excellent and the service impeccable. Other restaurants on my list for a nice evening meal included Bass OsloPjoltergeist (which recently popped up in London, and which was still closed for the summer) and Kontrast.

For a cosy cocktail... Fuglen. I went to Fuglen for the speciality coffee and stayed for the creative, well-mixed cocktails and vintage décor. Unfortunately, they were all out of the Cloudberry Sour, but I really enjoyed my gimlet, which came with Plymouth gin and kaffir lime leaves. Another cocktail joint on my list, which I didn't have time to visit, was Bettola.

Almost all of the shopping I did was in Grünerløkka, where there are hip boutiques, design stores, vintage shops and some of the Scandinavian chains, such as Weekday and Gina Tricot. Many shops are located on or near Thorvald Meyers gate, one of the neighbourhood's main north–south drags. Note that most shops are closed on Sundays.

Clothing: Ensemble (Nordre gate 15), well-curated boutique; Qomo (Torggata 35), hip clothes store; Whyred (Torggata 35), cool clothing store.
Interiors/homewares: Brudd Kunsthåndverk (Markveien 42A), ceramics; Eske (Sofies gate 16 — St Hanshaugen), quirky design boutique; Futura Classics (Olaf Ryes plass 1), furniture; Granit (Thorvald Meyersgate 63–67), minimalist homewares; Kollekted By (Rathkes gate 4), beautiful interiors; Søstrene Grene (Markveien 48, and other branches), pretty but inexpensive homewares; Ting (Akersgata 18 — near city hall), good selection of homewares
Lifestyle: Dapper (Nordre gate 13), hipster men's store;
Stationery: Lush Dive (Thorvald Meyers gate 19).