Finland, Food & Drink

Finding the Essence of Finland – One Coffee Cup at a Time

I have recently moved to what is said to be the most beautiful town in Finland, Naantali, after a year in London, where I started to write a book about London’s coffee scene. Needless to say, in London you find any kind of cup of coffee your soul might desire: you get your regular flat whites, innovative derivatives of flat whites (such as Fernandez & Welles stumpy coffee), you get your quick fixes of espressos from roadside shacks, slick urban spaces, decades old Italians, and industrial warehouses alike. You get your luxurious porcelain cups while porches speed pass, and you get your sophisticated mugs with twittering tweeds around.

But all this is only decorum around the main issues, quality coffee.

So, arriving Finland, I wasn’t that concerned with in what kind of surroundings I would get my fix. Oh no, my main concern was how the coffee itself was going to be. I don’t mind an occasional filter pot, brewed god knows when (my Finnish taste buds are accustomed to that), and my fingers don’t mind a steaming hot paper cup in market squares. I wasn’t expecting an enthusiastic barista whizzing up flat whites in every street corner: what I wanted to find was a good quality cup of coffee with a kick in it.

So the hunt started. The hunt for the perfect bean.

Here’s some samples of what I found in August:

1 Arriving Finland in style – Jugend Style

Arriving in Finland couldn’t have been more stylish than waking up in Sokos Hotel Torni, in Helsinki, famous for its Jugend-style architecture. As I have hinted before, I will start new things on the blog this winter, and one of them are blog collaborations – first of which was visiting the historic Torni hotel (more in this link!). Another new trick is to make videos for a Finnish travel channel ParisRio: I attach the video at the end of this post, so have a peek and let me know what you think!

In Torni Hotel, I woke up early and made my first Finnish cup which I enjoyed by a stylish Jugend fireplace on a stylish, Finnish bare wood floor.

In Torni Hotel, I woke up early and made my first Finnish cup which I enjoyed by a stylish Jugend fireplace on a stylish, Finnish bare wood floor.

2 Coffee at home

I had heard Finland had a crappy summer this year, but after I arrived there was enough heat to extend the summery feel I had enjoyed in London. At my hometown, Pieksämäki, we bought fresh strawberries to freeze for winter time but, naturally, it was obligatory to make a cake as well for immediate enjoyment. I took an Instagram and it felt surreal: I was in my hometown, on my parents’ balcony Instagramming a coffee cup after so many photos of coffee first in Dublin, then London. Ah well. Now the coffee shops in Soho are only a distant memory!

The best kind of strawberry cake with coffee served in grandma's old cup.

The best kind of strawberry cake with coffee served in grandma’s old cup.

3 Coffee at the Cottage

A natural step of taking coffee photos is to do it at the summer cottage, too! First night at the cottage I woke up around five o’clock in the morning, and in spite of the fear of bears (there haven’t been any in the area but this, in my opinion, doesn’t prevent some invisible bears lurking around) I had the courage to step out and go to the platform to wonder the calm silence around. And to drink coffee. And to take photos of it. Sigh…

This colourful cup (from Finnish company Arabia) has proven to be my new favourite.

This colourful cup (from Finnish company Arabia) has turned out to be my new favourite.

4 Coffee at Kenkävero

As my delicate mind was slowly sinking into the Savonian melancholy, Kenkävero’s elegantly uplifting cup of coffee came to rescue! Good cup in historic surroundings – of which I wrote more in this link. And yes, I Instagrammed.

Scandi style.

Scandi style.

5 More Coffee at the Cottage

I spent at least two weeks at the cottage: bad Internet connection, good company and so forth. The deadlines for August were piling up but stress kept away: it could wait till return to the city! And so it did, indeed. Now this sunny cup of coffee at the cottage terrace is a distant memory.

A Strange cup I found.

A Strange cup I found.

6 Coffee at a Market Square (torikahvilla!)

I love this type of coffee! Had to Instagram the moment. Note to self: have to write more about this tradition: it is one of the best traditions in my native land. I have to add, though, that the coffee itself, “sumppi”, is not the most enjoyable culinary experience, but the sugary sweetness of a fresh doughnut hides the bitterness well enough and it is the atmosphere around what makes a market square coffee an experience.

At Kuopio market square!

At Kuopio market square!

7 Coffee at work

Eventually I returned to the civilization, well, mainly, to the reach of Internet connection. Before setting to work, my woolen socks lead me to my parents’ cellar from where I found this. According to the family legends, the typewriter was my dad’s wedding anniversary present to my mum, who had wished for jewellery. A practical man, my dad is, and this is what she got.

The typewriter made it also as The Crumb's new logo on my Facebook, go and have a peek!

The typewriter made it also as The Crumb’s new logo on my Facebook, go and have a peek!

8 Coffee at a Coffee Shop

As a personal revelation I confess that I don’t drink much alcohol (and when I do, I celebrate the occasion with champagne!), which, in my books, gives me the moral right to enjoy coffee moments in coffee shops whenever I feel like it. After all, I am saving money in not wasting it on more befuddling beverages! This delicate coffee moment I was able to find from my hometown, and it was unexpected – so much so, that I wasn’t even carrying a phone with me, which caused me to, literally, run back to the car to get it. Just so that I could, yes, Instagram.

Lovely I say, lovely indeed.

Lovely I say, lovely indeed.

9 Coffee at Nanda

Another pleasant surprise was Nanda coffee shop and lunch restaurant in Mikkeli (note to self: write more about this!). For now, I only offer a photo of my macchiato which helped me to hunt for the non-existing institutions I needed for taking care of some official businesses.

With the aid of this macchiato I fought against Mikkeli's invisible wind mills.

With the aid of this macchiato, I fought against Mikkeli’s invisible windmills.

10 Coffee at home

And finally, settling into my new home for the winter time: Naantali, next to the Moomin World.

Home.

Home.

After all this coffee, I almost forgot the link to my first ever video – made with the help of my genius of a sidekick! This is it from me for now, until next time!

P.S. Here you can find out how was my 10 Cups of Coffe in Cape Town!

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