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Get a great cup of coffee in Helsinki

Finland is a country of coffee lovers. Perhaps that’s the very reason why the Finnish capital Helsinki has grown to become a hot destination for international coffee connoisseurs. At the same time, the country’s largest micro roastery is hoping that the Finns themselves will start to put quality before quantity when it comes to coffee drinking. Not only for the experience but also for the climate.

Finland is the country that drinks the most coffee, followed by its Scandinavian neighbors.

Svante Kampf, vd på Kaffa Roastery. Photo: Clément Morin

Finnish consumers get through 10kg of roast coffee a year on average. That’s twice as much as in coffee mecca Italy. The Scandinavian countries are also high on the list, averaging a few kilos less per year.

Finland is also the only country in the world where all employees have a legal right to a paid coffee break.

“Coffee is at the center of almost every meeting between people in Finland,” says Svante Kampf, CEO of Kaffa Roastery.

He ought to be delighted about Finnish coffee habits. But that’s not strictly the case.

“People must stop guzzling half a liter of inferior quality coffee in the morning. That’s bad – and above all, it’s not sustainable. Much of the coffee industry is unethical and harmful to the environment.

Sustainability plays a key role in the Kaffa business concept. Both when it comes to their own enterprise in Helsinki and how they source coffee beans.

“We only buy directly from coffee farmers themselves, which means we have total control over where the money goes and that they get a sufficiently high price.”

They are also transparent when it comes to the price they pay for their coffee, in an attempt to try to persuade larger companies not to force down prices. They source most of their coffee from Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Brazil.

“We try to put as much focus as possible on areas where we feel we can made a difference. We’d rather pay a higher price there than somewhere where trading is less complicated.”

Transparency plays a big part in their café too, that was named best in Finland this year. The only thing that separates the café from the roastery, lab and coffee school is see-through glass. The Kaffa story dates back to 2007 when Kampf and a few friends decided to open a café. They wanted to roast the coffee themselves, and initially they did this in an old popcorn machine.

Photo: Clément Morin

One thing led to another and their sales increased year on year. The current café, in the Punavuori area of Helsinki, opened its doors in 2010.

Even though the café side only accounts for around five percent of Kaffa revenues, it plays an important role.

“Punavuori is an area with plenty of creative people, which means it’s a wonderful place for us to test new things. The café is a key part of our brand,” Kampf says.

The roastery has the capacity to roast 130kg an hour. They sell 150–200 tons of coffee a year.

Foto: Clément MorinIn the lab, they test new products and bean combinations. The coffee school trains both baristas and business customers. These business customers, who buy coffee for their employees, play an important role in the aim of raising the quality of the coffee that is drunk in Finland.

“We want to help companies create a better atmosphere in their offices, and at the same time reduce the amount of waste and wastage."

"Our latest initiative to reduce waste is to deliver beans to business customers in containers that can be reused numerous times. We collect the empty containers when we make the next delivery.”

Kampf and his employees are trying to change the coffee culture in Finland one step at a time. It’s therefore not surprising that they recently hosted an event to name the best coffee beers. Or that the 2019 Barista of the Year works behind the counter. Or that they have a cold espresso and tonic on the menu.

However, it’s important to continue to move the boundaries – without excluding people who aren’t coffee nerds.

“That's one of our biggest challenges. We really don’t want to make life difficult. It should be both interesting and easy to drink good coffee,” says Kampf.

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