Sandra and Oliver of Blåbär have lovingly created an intelligently branded and beautifully designed business that is so much more than just a coffee shop.
I found Blåbär (pronounced blawbair) with my nose. The three week old Swedish coffee shop and lifestyle store located right off Putney High Street flooded the block with the smell of cinnamon and rich espresso. The facade of the shop is sleek, black, and, of course, unmistakably Scandinavian.
Blåbär, which means “blueberry” or “new comer” in Swedish, has generated buzz in its South London home and beyond for its simple, yet innovative and well executed business structure. Here, visitors can not only stop in to relax for an afternoon fika (the Swedish term for “catching up with friends over coffee and something sweet”) but also to purchase Swedish made products- such as lighting, jewelry, candles, tea, and even the mugs you drink your cappuccino out of. And while this structure is common in Sandra’s (the business half of the duo) home country in Sweden, it is one of the first of its kind in London. It is also one of the few independent coffee shops in Putney and is the only one that sells Swedish coffee (from Johan & Nyström).
When I crossed the threshold of Blåbär, I was stuck by just how beautiful the space was- a testament to Oli, one half of the duo and the creative mastermind behind Blåbär. The two level shop is clean and tidy but decadent. Everything, from the floor tiles, to the counter to the chairs are Swedish. The store was wholly curated by Sandra and Oli and their attention to detail is evident. This care and attention extends to the products for sale, the coffee and the hospitality that is shown to customers.
I ordered a cappuccino, regretfully passed up the opportunity to try one of the delicious looking pastries and sat down to chat with Oli, who was as disarming, warm and welcoming as the shop itself.
The idea for Blåbär was conceived about a year and a half ago when Sandra, who worked in sales, and Oli, a film set designer came to crossroads in both of their careers. Sandra was looking for new work opportunities and Oli had the flexibility to work on projects on a freelance basis.
“We lived opposite a coffee shop in Richmond, which we loved. It’s that whole thing about what you want to do in your life… We had a bit of money and could have bought a new place to live or do something like this.” Oli said.
The two bounced ideas off of one another and used their strengths and different backgrounds to their advantage to build their brand. They began a blog and an online store (which sells the same products that are sold in the store) about six months ago with
the help of one of Sandra’s relatives. The store, which has been busy since its opening, is a way to further develop their brand, better serve customers and put Oli’s skills on display. Sandra’s family and Oli’s set friends helped put the store together (some of the wood is from the farm Sandra grew up on), making it very much the product of hard work and camaraderie.
Relationships are important to Oli and Sandra- each of their products have signs that indicate the maker of the good with a brief biography. The atmosphere of the shop is homey and comforting and customers are encouraged to use the space as a home away from home, to do work and catch up with friends for a fika – quite like what Sandra and Oli do when they visit friends and family in Sweden.
If you are looking for a taste of Sweden- through clean, Scandinavian design and products, hot mugs of coffee or tea, healthy salads, buttery cinnamon rolls and outstanding hospitality – Blåbär is your shop and Sandra and Oli are your people.
Blåbär is open Mon-Sat 8am to 6pm and Sun 9am to 5pm and is located at 3A Lacy Road, Putney SW15 1NH.