If you think about Finland, you might think about snow and Northern Lights, about sauna, lakes and Santa’s cosy residence in Rovaniemi. But Finland is more than just long winters and sweating on wooden benches. Finland is also: coffee! Or kahvi, if you prefer Finnish.
The Nordic countries all make it to the top of the list of the world’s leading coffee drinkers. The numbers of 2015 show: even the runner-up Swedes with their ten kilograms of consumed coffee per capita stand no chance against the Finns. They consumed a staggering amount of 12.2 kilograms per capita. To put this in perspective: Germans make it only to place six with 7.2 kilograms and the French are in place 14 with 5.1 kilograms.
Why are Finns so crazy about coffee? What about tea? Although tea is gaining more and more friends in the land of the midnight sun, Finns stick to their all-time favourite (bean).
A first, obvious, explanation for coffee’s long reign at the top might of course be the climate. When winter is coming (to Finland, not Westeros) and the country is disappearing under a thick layer of snow, coffee promises more than just a tasty beverage: it keeps you awake. Tiredness and a oftentimes drastic increase in hunger, especially for sweets, are common symptoms of a life spent in darkness. Coffee is the ideal solution to stay wide awake during long winters.
Lower temperatures cannot, however, be the only reason. After all, people here drink just as much coffee in summer as they do in winter. Indeed, Finland’s fascination for coffee goes much deeper than that. Coffee is featured in literature, art and pop culture and plays an important role in novels, music and of course in advertising. Since over a hundred years coffee is virtually everywhere. This omnipresence has turned it into some form of cultural artifact that for many is simply a part of being Finnish (Suomalaisuus). And like in many other cultures, sitting down by the coffee table is an important part of family and working life.
Speaking of work: it should come as no surprise that the number of people who have turned coffee into their profession has been skyrocketing in recent years. From North to South, small coffee roasteries and cafes are popping up everywhere, grinding, roasting and selling their very own kind of coffee.
This trend to local is reshaping the coffee culture in Finland. More and more people rather buy their coffee from small, local enterprises than from large chains. The Italianization of coffee in Finland is in full swing.
Elina & Tim
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