The Finns drink an awful lot of coffee. It is undoubtedly the national drink of choice, and in fact it’s such a popular beverage that the Finns drink more coffee per capita than anyone other nation in the world – 12kg per person per year to be precise! Coffee is such a way of life for most people in Finland that scheduled coffee breaks during work hours are the absolute norm. Coffee breaks are often called aamukahvi, and these are frequently social affairs where many people get together and enjoy a warm cup.Just as the English have afternoon tea, the Finns also have a coffee table for special events.The coffee table is almost exactly the same as an English afternoon tea (sandwiches, cakes, sweet treats), except of course that coffee instead of tea is the main attraction.
The Finns like their coffee quite lightly roasted (especially when compared to neighbouring to Sweden, where a much darker roast is preferred); while you can get darker roasts, the lighter are much more common. The traditional way of brewing coffee in Finland is very similar to that of Turkish coffee.
With coffee being such a popular and ingrained aspect of Finnish life, it stands to reason that when you travel to Helsinki you can find a pretty decent cup of coffee! In fact, in the last decade the Finnish coffee culture has bounded right into the wonderful world of unique, artisanal, and independent cafes, and that means you’re never too far away from a great cup of coffee. So here are some very nice places you can go in Helsinki and enjoy a relaxing coffee time.
Kaffecentralen is a small chain of three cafes in Helsinki and their coffee is always made lovingly by top-notch baristas who really care about the quality of their coffee. Centrally located, you get not only well-priced coffee but also the chance to buy a great range of coffee accessories. Moko is a fabulous concept store/coffee shop fusion, and here you can get a great coffee as well as browse their fantastic range of homewares, fashion and bits and bobs from around the world. At Cafetoria you can get locally roasted, award-winning coffee from a small company that really knows their stuff. Here you will find lots of different origins and varieties of coffee to choose from, as well as lots of accessories.
If you want a visual as well as taste sensation, you can’t go past Andante, a coffee shop and flower shop all in one, where the coffee is as fantastic as the flowers are beautiful. There are also a whole host of beautiful accoutrements you might want to buy for the coffee lover in your life!
If you want a truly special meal to go with your coffee, Cargo is an absolute must! This vegetarian coffee shop and restaurant uses seasonal produce, and not only does a great coffee, but also fresh juices, sweet treats and offers breakfast and lunch.
If you’re after a coffee shop with a completely different vibes, Helsinki has lots of those too! Café Regatta is a truly fantastic experience. A little red cottage over-looking the sea, Café Regatta is opened year round, and offers guest a special atmosphere and delicious traditional treats to accompany your coffee. You can grill your own sausages year-round and in the summer you can enjoy a relaxing day by the water, even hiring a variety of boats to make the most of your time by the seaside. IhanaKavila is another unique experience, being a coffee shop inside an old shipping container. The surrounding area is set for future redevelopment, but in the mean time is home to an urban streetscape, with graffiti fences, communal gardens, street art and skateboarding parks, along with lots of outdoor events in the summer. It’s a great atmosphere and a completely different experience from a city corner café. For yet another completely different vibe, head on over to Café Vanille, a beautiful and very traditional coffee shop with a range of homemade treats, which is set in a little wooden cottage in the old Russian Quarter on the islands of Suomenlinna.
The perfect accompaniment to a fantastic cup of coffee is a fantastic sweet treat. Finland certainly doesn’t disappoint in this department, and you should make the most of finding the best cup of coffee by also finding your favourite Finnish treat! Like other countries in the region, Finland does a roaring trade in buns. Korvapuusti (cinnamon/cardamom buns) and mustikkapulla (blueberry buns) are a quintessentiallyScandinavian delicacy that no travel adventure would be complete without. Likewise, don’t forget to tuck into another regionalfavourite, fruit pie, particularly lingonberry, blueberry or apple (they’re even better if you’re lucky enough to try one which has been homemade).
For those partial to pancakes, it’s well worth trying out two local favourites, which you may find are a bit different to what you are used to at home. A pannukakku is a fat pancake baked in an oven and served with berry coulis. Similar to a crepe, a sultsina is made of rye flour and served with copious quantities of fresh cream and cinnamon sugar. Also delicious is omenalörtsy, donut-like parcels filled with sweet apple filling.
If you’re after something really decadent and typically Finnish, you can’t go past a lakkakakku (a cloudberry cake with slatherings of whipped cream) or a täytekakku (layers of sponge cake soaked in sweet liquid, usually milk or juice, alternating between layers of fresh fruit and mounds of fresh cream. Also a traditional dish, and something distinctly Finnish is vispipuuro, made from lingonberries and semolina, or Hanna-tädinpikkuleivät, little biscuits made with potato flour. If you are lucky enough to be in this wonderful northern country around Christmas time, be sure to try not only the local gingerbread biscuits, piparkakku, but also joulutorttu, pinwheeled tarts filled with prune jam.
Wherever you go for coffee, and whichever treat you choose to make your coffee that extra bit special, we know you’ll find the perfect place when you visit Helsinki to relax, and enjoy the local coffee scene and Finnish culture!