The history of Zoégas café
Zoegas is Swedens most famous and beloved coffee. Founded by Carlos and Maria Zoegas in 1886 in Helsingborg, this is the historic place for this national brand.
Here are numerous details about this place and the coffee.
If you want to shop coffee from Zoegas online, this is possible at the swedish webstore. Shipment global possible!
Go to: online shop
Born in 1850 as Carl Zoéga in Sireköpinge outside Svalöv, the family moved when he was 21 to Brazil. There he came into contact with the coffee culture, and changed his name to Carlos. When Carlos moved back to Sweden after 10 years in Brazil, in 1881, he brought with him coffee beans worth 6000 kronor which was the start of what is today Zoégas.
Carlos short life
Carlos Zoéga’s time as a coffee merchant in Sweden did not last long. Staring the business in 1881 in Landskrona, he moved to Helsingborg in 1886. While Maria was pregnant with the couple's second child, Carlos suddenly fell ill on April 17, 1888. He died the same day, only 37 years old. However, the business continued to be run by Maria, who made the coffee trade flourish.
Maria was born as Maria Tufvesdotter Thunell in Källna in northern Scania. At the age of 24, Maria started a photography studio in Landskrona, where she later met Carlos Zoéga, whom she married. Maria left her photostudio to her younger sister and instead began to get more and more involved in her husband's business, which in Helsingborg soon came to be called Zoégas. The family had their shop on the ground floor here, with a residence on the floor above and the coffee-roaster in the attic.
Zoégas during Maria's time
When Maria was pregnant with the couple's second child, Carlos suddenly fell ill on 17 April 1888 and died the same day. On June 2 of the same year, the son Carl Thure was born, who, however, died of what is presumed to be sudden infant death syndrome only one month after his birth. Zoéga was left alone as responsible for running the coffee roastery and caring for the couple's two-year-old daughter Clara-Maria. She subsequently received several offers to sell her business, but was determined to continue running the coffee roastery. To keep business alive, Zoéga visited Helsingborg's cafes and shops to advertise and sell her coffee. She also walked around Helsingborg and sold her coffee on her own. Soon the coffee roaster was a prosperous business. On July 20, 1890, Zoéga remarried to confectioner Johan Svensson, who took his wife's surname as his own and also began to get involved in the coffee roastery. On December 9, 1890, the couple's first son, Johan William Umberto, was born, and on September 16, 1894, another son, Sven Mauritz Rudolf, was born. The sons also received the surname Zoéga.
There is uncertainity on how important Maria was for Zoégas coffee history. As women where not allowed to own companies at these times in Sweden, there are few official pappers that recognize here. Instead there are other things, such as that her new husband adopted her last name as his, which was an unusual thing to do. Nowadays researchers are quite sure Maria was a very, if not the most, important person in the early years of Zoégas becoming a successful business.
Johan Svensson Zoega
Johan Svensson came to Skåne after moving from Värmland where conditions were difficult, with only 20 kronor in cash. He trained as a pastry chef, and met Maria Zoéga. They were married on 20 July 1890 and Johan then took his wife's surname as his own and also began to get involved in the coffee roastery. He worked in the coffee business until his death in 1922, when their second son Rudolf Zoéga took over the business.
Rudolf Zoéga, born in 1894, began his career in the company in 1913 and then took over in 1923 after his mother and father. Rudolf was the one who developed the company into an industrial operation, and among other things, the one who made the decision to invest in a larger coffee roastery on Ängelholmsvägen - where the coffee we serve is still roasted to this day. He died in 1970 and his daughter Thelma Zoéga took over the business.
He is said to have said the following about the art of mixing a good coffee:
"Composing a coffee blend can to some extent be compared to composing music. There must be harmony for the composition to be good.”
It was Rudolf that really expanded the business to a new, national, level. During his time the consumption in Sweden changed from a lot of small stores to new department stores and cooperatives. This changed how people bought coffee, and changed from local small stores to coffee brands that could deliver to bigger department stores and had longer shelf life on their product. This was only possible in bigger roasteries, such as the one Rudolf oversaw that Zoégas built in Helsingborg at Ängelholmsvägen.
Thelma Zoégas, born in 1922, was the grandchild of Maria and Johan Zoégas. She took over the business from her father Rudolf. During her time in charge of the business, in 1986, exactly 100 years after the business was started, she sold it to the Swedish food company Findus. The deal included not only the coffee roastery, but also this shop and café you are standing in now. She is said to have said that it would never be closed and would continue to operate. Something we proudly continue to carry forward.
Thelma lived in an apartment at the top of this building until her death in 2014.
First years with Zoégas
When Carlos Zoéga decided to travel back to Sweden from Brazil when he was 31 years old, in 1881, he arrived in Landskrona, with coffee beans worth 6000 kronor in his luggage. In Landskrona he built his own house on Grunnaregatan and bought a coffee roaster, coffee grinder, scale and storage boxes and soon he was able to open his coffee shop, with dark roasted coffee as a specialty. In Landskrona he met photographer Maria Tufvesdotter Thunell and they married on 28 August 1885. Shortly after the couple's daughter Clara-Maria was born, they decided in 1886 to move their business to Helsingborg. Maria handed over her photo-studio to her younger sister and instead began to get more involved in the coffee trade. In Helsingborg, they started Helsingborgs Patent-Kaffe-Rosteri, located at Kullagatan 27. This was the official start of what is still Zoéga's today!
The premises at Drottninggatan 30 and later Ängelholmsvägen.
When Zoégas moved to Helsingborg, it was originally at Kullagatan 27, next to Konsul Olsson's place. At the turn of the century, in 1901, the business was moved a few hundred meters to new premises in a then completely newly built property at Drottninggatan 30 - where we still are today. The ceiling painting in the shop was most likely done by decorative painter Andersson, and is still there today.
The entire operation was here until the investment was made in 1952 to move the production to newly built and larger premises on Ängelholmsvägen, which counted as one of the most modern roasteries of the time when it opened.
Being able to have a larger scale production was crucial for how the company grew. Only a handful of coffee roasteries in Sweden made these investments, but those that did managed to grow a lot and become household names. Besides brands such as Zoégas that was also Gevalia (in Gävle) and Löfbergs Lila (in Karlstad).
Famous coffee blends
Zoégas has some famous coffee blends, that have existed for over 100 years, and are still as loved! The most famous ones are Mollbergs Blandning and Skånerost. However, in our café you can also
Mollberg's Blandning, which means Mollberg’s Blend, is Zoega's oldest and finest blend. It was developed for the historic Hotel Mollberg in Helsingborg, in 1903. The coffee blend was created at the request of the hotel's restaurateur at the time, Frans August Nelson.
Skånerost is Zoégas most famous blend, and was originally called Horn's Blend, as it was produced in 1918 for Hotel Horns in Malmö by the central station - the hotel that is today called Savoy. Horn's Blend is still in the range and has a slightly softer character than what many associate with Skånerost.