Karsk: how coffee is drunk in Norway


Our journey around the world, in search of the many coffee-related traditions, today makes a stop in the Scandinavian countries to find out how coffee is drunk in Norway.

Italians often think that they are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world, while in the rankings they are just behind Norway in second place and neighboring Finland in first place.

If you love to travel without giving up the taste of good coffee, you can’t miss the habits of other coffee-loving countries such as Germany and France.

How to drink coffee in Norway: discovering Karsk

Coffee in Norway is truly a heritage. It is used to prepare so many recipes, both sweet and savory, and Norwegians drink it at every hour of the day. Of all the preparations, however, the absolute best loved and best known is Karsk.


It is a coffee-based drink, but its alcoholic correction turns it into a drink especially for young people.

The origins of Karsk

The traditional proportions for making an excellent Karsk involve one dose of coffee and one dose of liquor. The drink itself is very simple; in fact, it was once prepared in the more rural areas of the country to find refreshment from the harsh temperatures of winter.

This is precisely why the recipe calls for the addition of alcohol, as is often the case in countries with very high altitudes.

It seems that the origins of this drink are to be found in Sweden in the 1800s, and that the name comes from the Old Norse adjective karskr, meaning “healthy, agile, vigorous.” It becomes quite obvious, then, what the original purpose of this drink was.

How to prepare karsk

Norwegian history has long handed down a ritual that is unique in the world but very difficult to accomplish at present. One would have to place, in fact, a coin at the bottom of the cup, pour coffee until it is submerged, and then liquor until the coin reappears.

Of course, today it is not possible to do this with the classic espresso cup because one would have to use one that is taller and narrower at the bottom.

The coffee inside the drink is a classic espresso, while as for the liquor, you can vary it according to taste and desired alcohol content.