If you research coffee drinking around the world, you’ll notice one nation that pops up again and again. Finland may not have the ideal climate for coffee production, but when it comes to drinking the world’s favorite hot beverage, they are easily world champions.
Many of the countries in northern Europe place proudly in the top 10 coffee drinking nations in the world, but none are as dedicated as Finland. Per capita, Finns drink an impressive 26 pounds of coffee each year, which adds up to nearly four cups of coffee per person every day! This may even be a low estimate since Finns are known to drink coffee all day every day. (If you’re wondering how we measure up, the U.S. ranks number 25 with an annual per capita coffee consumption of 9 pounds.)
Extremely light roast filter coffee (known as kahvi) is the national preference in Finland. Yet despite brewing the lightest cup of coffee in the world, Finns still want their caffeine. Decaf is nearly non-existent in this Nordic country, so don’t bother asking!
While Finns don’t make a huge fuss over coffee, it is deeply embedded in their culture.
So much so that most aspects of the Finnish day are marked by coffee. Home and work are where nearly all coffee drinking happens, and any occasion is special enough to celebrate with coffee. In the Finnish language, “coffee” is not descriptive enough for this ever-present beverage, so there are many more nuanced words such as aamukahvi (morning coffee), päiväkahvi (day coffee), iltakahvi (evening coffee), matkakahvi (traveling coffee) and even saunakahvi (sauna coffee).
Finland takes its coffee so seriously that it may be the only country in the world where coffee breaks are legally mandated for workers. In most jobs, you are entitled to two 10-minute coffee breaks a day!
Coffee Dos and Don’ts in Finland
Aside from an all day, every day approach, there are a few important things to know about drinking coffee in Finland.
- Conversation is not required. Finns are just fine with silence in a social setting, and it’s perfectly acceptable to have coffee with a friend or colleague without saying a word. Sometimes silence is golden, just like that light roast cup of coffee.
- Don’t refuse a cup when offered. It’s customary to be offered coffee when you are a guest in someone’s home. Refusing is considered rude, especially by older generations.
- There is a polite way to say you’re done, and it involves another half cup of coffee! Coffee is served in small cups, and you will be offered many rounds. When you are ready to stop drinking and the next round is offered, ask for “just a half cup.”
- In more traditional families, the host will not drink coffee until their guest is no longer having full cups.
Coffee in the Perfect Cup
The Finnish coffee cup is just as important as what goes inside, and every Finn has their favorite. We can appreciate that!
Traditionally, a Finnish home would have a few sets of coffee cups: one for everyday use; one set for regular visits with family or friends, and an elegant set reserved for very special occasions (these are referred to as holy cups).
Many Finns also have a Moomin mug, which is adorned with artwork based on a Finnish cartoon series. Moomin mugs are sold everywhere, and some are high-value collectibles.
And outdoor adventures call for something specific called a kuksa, which is a carved wooden cup.
Finland clearly deserves its title as the number one coffee drinking nation, and we find it inspiring! There is something appealing about infusing coffee into every aspect of the day, having the perfect cup in the perfect cup, many times a day.
Finnish Coffee Culture References