What happens if you add an organist, an archaeologist, a generous dose of village dedication and top it all off with a bit of city culture? Well, you get Lauget Kaffi og kultur - Sandane's premier meeting place, where culture, coffee and coziness are in focus. Simply put, town and countryside in perfect harmony.
Many people associate rural Norway with a particular type of culture and mentality. "Everything moves a little slowly in the countryside", it is said, and this refers as much to the facilities as to the culture. Sisters Charlotte and Mariel wanted to do something about this.
Lauget Kaffi og kultur is located in the heart of Sandane town center. The small village has the Jostedalsbreen glacier at its back, high mountains with white peaks and fjord views from all sides. Here you'll find a little bit of everything, and a little bit of the whole village.
To lauge has become a term for chatting, and the whole profile and atmosphere of the café is designed to encourage people to do just that. Here you won't find dozens of separate small tables with few chairs, but a long table where you can enjoy what Lauget has to offer together: concerts, local food, art, a swap library and coffee from Solberg and Hansen. Quite simply a little culture shock in a positive sense, and the kind of place everyone wants to have in the neighborhood.
From joke to seriousness
The idea behind Lauget kaffi og kultur started as an inside joke between the two sisters, who at the time were far away from both Sandane and café operations. Little did they know that a quick comment like "wouldn't it be fun to...", which in most cases would have been dismissed as daydreaming, would become their life's work.
However, with their training as archaeologists and organists, there was little to suggest that the sisters would start what would become Sandane's foremost cultural artery, or even move back to the village. The distance was both physical and mental, and a café was never the plan for either of them. Luckily, words were magic, and before they knew it, Lauget kaffi og kultur was a reality.
- "It's much easier to start something in a small place. Everyone knows each other here, so we knew right away who we needed to talk to," says Charlotte.
A longing for something special
For the sisters, it was as much about starting something they themselves missed in their home town, and one thing is for sure: They are not afraid to explore new terrain - even in familiar territory. And they did this wholeheartedly.
The process was quick, and the road from dream to action was short. Suddenly, they had moved home, arranged a space and formed a clear vision of what they wanted to create. All they had was the time and the road, but no furniture.
"We wanted to create a meeting place for different people who basically don't know each other. A place where there is room for everyone, but which might have disappeared in the crowd in a city."
The soulful room contains a hodgepodge of things from all over the village. This is how the dream itself came about. Dugnad, long days and a good dose of social media. Traditional meets modern - a bit like the place itself.
- "Before we opened, we actively used social media. It's always a gamble to open something on your own, so it was important for the café to get off to a good start," say the sisters.
And they got off to a good start. Over a whole year, the sisters built up the community's expectations. They were secretive, creating engagement and curiosity. Every week, they released a new podcast that updated the community on the process.
- The people in the community paid close attention and often came to the door with books, furniture and other equipment we needed. It was really nice.
A welcome meeting place
The café was a volunteer project in the true sense of the word, and a product of the entire village. Perhaps that's why the place has so much charm. In the cozy room, there is little to suggest that you shouldn't feel at home.
- "We're lucky to be able to run a café in a place where people are proud of each other and keen to preserve the local offerings that exist. This makes it easier to operate here, even though the customer base is a little smaller than in the cities," says Mariel.
Everything from the old milk pail that serves as a door opener and the homemade pallet tables to the apple crates that adorn the walls comes from the village itself. So does the love of the place. The whole village meets here for a chat over a cup of steaming hot quality coffee. Both coffee and culture - what more could you want?