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When you think about which European country drinks the most coffee, perhaps Italy springs to mind. But don’t be fooled – it’s actually Finland that tops the list. Per capita, Finnish people consume more coffee than any other nation in the world. Eight or nine cups a day is the norm in this Nordic country, with some locals consuming as many as 30, which isn’t recommended. Read on to discover how Finnish coffee culture came about and where you can enjoy a good cup of joe here.
It’s thought the trend came about because of the extreme cold here – temperatures dip as low as -40C (-40F) in northern Finland. This makes a warm Thermos, or coming home to a cup of coffee, inviting. Meanwhile, during the short but hot summers, iced coffee steps in to satiate the cravings for caffeine.
It may seem strange, then, that multinational coffee chains haven’t caught on here; you’ll only find a Starbucks in the capital city of Helsinki and its airport. The simple explanation is they aren’t needed – there are more than enough national chains, indie establishments and even corner shops making pots of coffee.
Some Finnish people do drink coffee alone, but drinking coffee is considered more of a social activity here. Coffee shops make ideal meeting spots, and coffee is almost always served during a visit to someone else’s home. Even if you drop by a friend’s home unannounced, they will almost always put on a pot for you; it’s considered rude to leave before everyone has finished their drink.
Additionally, coffee is almost always served with cake in Finland. There is even a Finnish word for it, kakkukahvi, which means coffee and cake. A type of sweet bun topped with vanilla icing (known as pulla) is a popular accompaniment.
If you find yourself in the capital, head straight to the Brooklyn Cafe and Bakery. Founded in Helsinki in 2011 by two sisters from New York, the cafe sells only dark-roast coffee, espresso and their own private label filter coffee, alongside a range of hot chocolates, tea and fresh juices. Arrive hungry and enjoy a home-made bagel, cupcake or brownies while browsing the second-hand books available.
Siobhan Grogan contributed additional reporting to this article.