A dash of Scandinavia in an unexpected place: Johan’s Jöe offers more than mere coffee

Johan’s Jöe outdoor seating

Photo: Discover The Palm Beaches Staff
The café is well designed inside and out.

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Great surprises are not limited to gifts given at unexpected times; they also include gifts discovered in unexpected places. So it was a great surprise to unearth a wonderful Scandinavian café in West Palm Beach, Florida: Johan’s Jöe.

First of all, the space is amazing. Chic black and white decor is balanced with hints of smoky gray and splashes of purple velvet found in the single sprays of orchids and throne-like chairs that make you feel like royalty. Whimsical black-antlered reindeer heads enhance, rather than detract. All is balance and light.

I was having lunch with my daughter Shannon, after just having flown in from New York. We shared Toast Skagen, served open-face style on rye and overflowing with a succulent seafood salad, with hints of pumpkin seeds and boiled eggs. For dessert we shared a portion of Swedish (or Norwegian) Pancakes, served with berry preserves and fresh whipped cream, transforming me to Sunday morning breakfasts at my mormor’s. The choice of free cucumber- or berry-flavored water was a lovely touch.

Custom-brewed coffee that is robust, but not bitter, hit the spot at the end of our meal. Serving “a custom blend of Sweden’s most ethical and environmentally friendly coffee and tea from Löfbergs Lila, award winning and eco-friendly Swedish coffee roasters, Johan’s Jӧe promises to deliver nothing but the most delicious cup of coffee!” writes the company on its website.

Other traditional Nordic fare they serve includes meatballs, Baltic Berry Salad, and a variety of salmon dishes. But it was their bakery assortment that most overwhelmed. How to choose?

Johan’s Jöe pastry table

Photo: Johan’s Jöe
What do you want for dessert? Johan’s offers a wide selection of pastries and other goodies.

Scandinavian desserts linger in your mind long after they have satiated your taste buds and haunt long after you return home. What does one imagine when craving a Nordic fix—skolebrød, kringler, or verdens beste kake? Perhaps the pinnacle of Scandinavian desserts is the Princess Cake covered in spring-green marzipan. It’s not only beautiful to look at but also scrumptious to devour. I have never seen it anywhere in the States, but you can find it at Johan’s.

Johan’s opens at the crack of dawn for those in need of a coffee fix and continues serving into the wee hours offering a Happy Hour from 3:00 p.m. to close seven days a week. Their menu highlights their Swedish Cider and Syltbar Prosecco and Rose. Never having heard of the Syltbar brand, I did a little research. It is produced in the small German (originally Danish) Frisian island of Sylt, in the North Sea, by proprietors Claus (who was born nearby) and Regina. They now live in Miami Beach and have brought their fine products with them

Johan’s sponsors events like Midsommer, performances, and open mic nights. They rent out their elegant space for special occasions. Other items for sale include a section of imported treats, such as Daim chocolates and colorful Dala horses. Anna Viktoria products were also available. I have never seen such well-designed dishcloths.

The manager I met on my visit told me she was surprised how many Scandinavians are in this part of southern Florida. In fact, her husband was born in Sweden. So for all you Nordicphiles who snowbird, live, or travel to the West Palm Beach area, Johan’s Jöe is a must!

Visit Johan’s Jöe’s website at www.johansjoe.com to learn more.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 25, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Victoria Hofmo

Victoria Hofmo was born, raised, and still lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the historical heart of Norwegian New York. She is 3/4 Scandinavian: 1/2 Norwegian and 1/4 Danish/Swedish. Self-employed, she runs an out-of-school-time program that articulates learning through the arts. Hofmo is an advocate for arts and culture, education, and the preservation of the built and natural environment of her hometown, with a love for most things Scandinavian.