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This trend more than likely originated due to the extreme cold, with temperatures dipping as low as minus 40 degrees in Northern Finland, which makes a warm thermos or coming home to a cup of coffee extremely inviting. During the short but hot summers, iced coffee is just as much as a comfort.
It may seem strange then that multinational coffee chains such as Starbucks haven’t caught on in the country and are found only in the capitol city of Helsinki and its airport. The simple reason is that they are not needed as there are more than enough national chains, indie establishments, and even corner shops making pots of coffee for their customers.
While some do still drink it alone, having coffee is considered much more of a social activity in Finland. Not only do coffee shops make ideal meeting spots, but coffee is almost always served during a visit to someone else’s home. Even if you drop by somebody’s home unannounced, they will almost always put on a pot for you. It is considered rude to leave a restaurant or home before everyone has finished their coffee.
Coffee in Finland is almost always served with cake. There is even a word in Finnish, kakkukahvi, which means “coffee and cake.” A type of sweet bun topped with vanilla icing known as pulla is a particularly popular accompaniment with coffee and you can find the recipe online.
The good news for coffee lovers visiting Finland is that even small towns have at least a few coffee shops selling a wide selection of drinks and cakes containing locally sourced ingredients. All of the country’s tourist attractions, no matter how remote, will typically have one too. The large cities of Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku have the largest selection of both indie and chain shops.
You can also find many packaged brands of specialty coffee in souvenir shops and on supermarket shelves featuring every Finnish staple from The Moomins to Tom of Finland.
Finland’s love of coffee goes far beyond the overpriced multinationals or artisan espresso bars. You can find a warming and inexpensive cup everywhere from a friendly neighborhood café to a friend’s living room.