Coffee is a staple in Finnish culture, although most people don’t realize it until they arrive to Finland. If you are a newcomer, this post will fill you in on what to expect regarding the Finnish coffee culture.
Finnish people consume the most coffee in the world per capita with an average of 10 kg consumption per person yearly. Some may believe it is the cold and dark winters that drive Finns to drink so much coffee, but it is more than just a caffeine addiction.
Coffee and coffee breaks are also important social parts of one’s day, which is why many international students end up adapting to the coffee culture. Coffee breaks with a friend or colleague can also be enjoyed in Finnish culture in silence with little talking, which might sound a bit odd to an international student, but silence is not uncomfortable for most Finns and a coffee break can be a time to simply relax in peace (and social silence).
As students, it is common to meet up with friends and classmates for coffee in the morning before class, after lunch, and again for an afternoon coffee break in between studies. You don’t necessarily have to drink coffee during the coffee breaks, but if you want to take a break and relax a few minutes away from school or work, be sure to say yes whenever invited for coffee. You can always grab a tea or other snack if coffee is not your drink of choice.
When is coffee time in Finland?…ALWAYS
Every celebration in Finland involves coffee as well. For birthdays, people host a birthday coffee (and cake) usually with family or close friends. For graduations, name day celebrations, housewarming parties, holidays, christenings, and other celebrations (such as for an achievement or sports award), coffee is always the answer. If you are ever invited over to a Finnish person’s home, it is highly likely that you will be offered coffee or tea and maybe also a small pastry or dessert as this is a common and polite practice. Coffee is often also brought along whenever people go hiking, camping, or even skiing in Finland, but in this case, Finns typically bring along their outdoor coffee mug, also called a kuksa (shown in the image with the pastry above).
One of the most famous Finnish coffee brands is Paulig Juhla Mokka. It is a light roast filter coffee that is often sold at many kiosks or small cafes. It is also commonly served at restaurants when coffee is included in the meal price or is an add-on for a small fee. If you are a coffee drinker and spend a few months in Finland, you will likely drink this coffee a lot.
How do Finns drink their coffee?
It is common for people to drink light roasted coffee in Finland. You can also find dark roasts or espresso at a café, but that is less common. Many Finnish people drink their coffee black or with a few drops of milk. It is common also to find three options for milk if it is a self-serve spot in a café: normal milk, lactose free milk, and oat milk. If you tend to prefer your coffee with sugar, you can usually find some near the milk options, but you may have to ask the barista if you are in a smaller café, as most Finnish people do not add sugar to their coffee.
Although you won’t find a Starbucks around every corner, there are still several chain coffee shops you will become familiar with in many Finnish cities. However, local cafes also see a lot of traffic in Finland. In Lappeenranta, there are also several local coffee roasteries and cafes that are popular with students as study hangouts or meetup spots on the weekends. And of course, there is the Street Café on the Lappeenranta campus, which is a popular coffee break spot for students and staff.
Special Coffee Cups/Mugs
Every Finnish coffee drinker has their favorite coffee cup/mug at home and sometimes also their favorite one they bring with them to school or work. As the LUT campus promotes sustainability, it is not uncommon for people to bring their own reusable coffee mug that they clean after each coffee break and keep with them in their bag, locker, or office. Another important thing to be aware of is Moomin coffee mugs. If you are invited over to a Finnish person’s apartment or house for a casual social occasion, you will likely spot some Moomin mugs. These small mugs include various different Moomin characters and scenes from the beloved Finnish book and tv series. Moomin mugs can also be collectibles with rare scenes worth hundreds of euros. However, most people who own Moomin mugs do not keep them hidden away on a shelf, but regularly in use. One of the fun parts about drinking coffee out of Moomin mugs is that every guest gets to choose their favorite scene or character. Although it is a popular children’s series, Moomins is beloved by Finns of every age.