Finnish coffee culture – Lifecycle of coffee addicted Finns

If there are two things that are sacred to us Finns, they must be sauna and coffee (not combined, though). Coffee belongs to most of the situations in a Finn’s life. Whether it’s about joy or sorrow, home or work, spending time with family and friends, waiting for the bus, sitting by a campfire or a first date – there has to be coffee. As we all know, communication between us Finns isn’t our strongest part. So whenever we get into a difficult or awkward situation, it’s always handy to have a cup of coffee nearby. Taking a sip from your mug is a great way to fill a silent moment, and gives you a second to think of your next line.

The average amount of coffee consumption per Finn is 2,64 cups a day. That makes altogether 9,6 kg’s of coffee beans per year. But how do we even have the time to drink this much coffee, one might ask?

One thing that definitely helps, is that all people in working life are blessed with legal coffee breaks here in Finland. It’s common that one can have two 10 minute coffee breaks a day, in addition to a half-an-hour lunch break. This means most of us drink coffee about three times during the work day, since most of the lunch restaurants include a free cup of coffee when purchasing a lunch.

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In Finland we also have this thing called santsikuppi, which means that in many places when you buy a cup of coffee, you can have a free second fill. One coffee place in Helsinki is particularly famous for their santsikuppi policy. In Cafe Regatta they give you 5 cents back for each santsikuppi you drink. This, if anything, is a good example of Finnish customer service at its best, and servers well us coffee drinking nuts!

In fact, we have a theory that the coffee addiction we nowadays have here in Finland, is due to our history. Coffee drinking hasn’t always been this easy in Finland, since the Second World War almost ended Finnish coffee culture. During those years of war, at first coffee was regulated and at some point it simply wasn’t available at all. But luckily us Finns have always been inventive, especially when it comes to coffee, and so we created a coffee substitute. This substitute was for example made of grain, pine bark, sugar beet, potato peel or beetroot – so basically the ingredients were anything you can imagine. We don’t know about the taste, but can imagine that it wasn’t quite like the original product.

The arrival of the first shipment of coffee after the war years in 1946, was a huge event in the Turku harbor. People gathered to witness when ship Herakles floated to the dock, full of long awaited coffee beans.

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So when a baby is born, we drink coffee. When our kids end their school year or graduate, we drink coffee. When one gets a promotion, we drink coffee. When your best friend gets married, we drink coffee. When someone gets divorced, we drink coffee (and mix some strong alcohol like Jaloviina in it). When kids play and set an imaginery coffee table to their friends, moms drink coffee. When supermarkets put coffee on promotion, we queue to stock up our coffee storage so that we can drink coffee.

As you can imagine by now, coffee truly plays a significant part in our daily lives. Many people say they can’t properly start their day if they haven’t had their morning coffee. For those coffee drinkers who also want to enjoy this nectar of life in the evening, there is of course de-caffeinated coffee. This is a good way to ensure you can have both coffee and a good night’s sleep.

So the next time you have a cup of coffee with your Finnish friend, observe how their nostrils vibrate as they smell the fresh coffee, and eyes fill with happiness when they raise the mug to meet their lips. While having a casual conversation over a cup of coffee, you might even want to surprise your friend with some trivia you just learned from this blog post.

Oh, it’s coffee-o’clock! Until next time folks!

PS. Approximately four cups of coffee per person were consumed while creating this blog post.

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