#navbar-iframe { height:0px; visibility:hidden; display:none; } Espresso Passione Espresso Passione: Consumer coffee in Finland

Friday, May 30, 2008

Consumer coffee in Finland

I have now spent about a month trying to settle down in Finland. This has mostly gone well, but there have been two exceptions. The first one I already posted on - the difficulties with getting things done in our new home. The second one is coffee related.

Compared to Copenhagen, it has been tough to find drinkable coffee. My first try after moving over was Paulig's "Espresso Originale" from a supermarket. Sounds really bad, and it really was quite sad. To make a long story short, even though the coffee was roasted fairly recently (3 weeks from the day I bought it and it was after all vacuum packed), I have to say that even after my best efforts at varioús grind, dose and temp settings, this coffee was undrinkable for me.

The next step for me was trying Robert's Coffee. For those who do not know, Starbuck's is not present in Finland. I think Robert's is the closest equivalent although I guess they (Robert's) try and do better (than Starbuck's). I am not sure they achieve that and my personal experience has not been positive. I have tried two of their blends (Roberto and Habanero) from (probably) their busiest sales location (Stockmann's in Helsinki) and both of the blends have been a disappointment for me.

While purchasing (on Monday this week), I enquired about the roast dates of the coffees, The responses were vague (as in I have no idea), but apparently the coffee was delivered on Friday (i.e. three days before purchase) and supposedly roasted on the day of delivery (or close to)...

Regardless of all this vagueness, in my opinion the coffee was over-roasted on both blends and I am quite sure it was a lot older from the roast than I was lead to believe. To me the coffee was barely acceptable/drinkable on the day of purchase and the day after. As you may have gathered, I was not impressed and will most likely not be purchasing again unless I am in really dire straits. If I was pushed for further analysis, I'd rather go for the Habanero, but the priority would be on checking which one is the lighter and fresher roast of the blends available at the time of purchase (if you can get a clear answer on that).

After these experiences it initially looked like I had explored all my options in Helsinki and this is almost true. But fortunately not quite. Of course you have the Illy etc pre-packed options available (at the supermakets and various other locations), but those have never convinced me before and I do not think they would do so now, either. So I might as well skip them to be honest.

You also have the Andesa/Cafetoria coffees available in some of the supermarkets, but over the past four weeks, I am yet to find a bag that I feel would be fresh enough for me to purchase (although my guess is that it would be better and not as over-roasted as Robert's is - they do have more of the right approach and the cupping champ on their side to boot).

Anyway, at this stage I was feeling desparate. Finns drink more coffee than any other nation in the world, but in my experience (during my stay in Copenhagen and even more so now that I live in Helsinki again), the quality of the coffee in the Finnish capital is bad. Really crappy. I am frustrated and I expect better (I admit this may be a bit selfish, but in my opinion Copenhagen was heaven compared to this).

After all these disappointments, I thought the only way forward was to start roasting at home again, or start ordering online from Hasbean, The Coffee Collective, Risteriet or Mokkamestarit. These are all viable and respectable alternatives, but I would personally always prefer having a local speacialist (primarily - but I do like variety, comparison and challenges).

So, after all of the above I have to say that I was extremely happy to finally experience and see a very dedicated, talented and professional setup in the capital region. Kaffa Roastery is starting up and it really looks like the guys have the right attitude to speciality coffee. I have had a brief encounter with Kaffa and based on that I would compare them with the Coffee Collective that I was familiar with in Denmark. I think this says a lot about the quality and ambition level of the roaster and so far this is the only source that has satisfied me in Finland. More on this experience soon!


OpenID IORi said...

Hi Teme.

I'm a bit surprised if you didn't try the Kaffecentralen in Punavuori or Parhiala in Hakaniemen halli. In my opinion Kaffecentralen is one of the best places to go for espresso in Helsinki and the service has always been topnotch too.

Sunday, June 01, 2008  
Blogger Teme said...

Hi Ilkka,

I am very much aware of Kaffecentralen and their merits, but to date they have not been selling freshly roasted coffee. Therefore I have not considered them as a viable source. However, I also know that Kaffecentralen will start supplying fresh coffee as of next week - this will put them on the map as a source for me.

With regards to Parhiala you also make a good point. They are a source and I should have mentioned them. I am aware of them but left them out purely because I have not yet had a chance to visit them.


Sunday, June 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you have just experience, coffee isn't always the coffee you want it to be ;-) Finns drink the most coffee in the world per capita but it doesn't mean they drink espresso. When these traditional coffee drinkers go abroad, they complain about the foreign coffee as well because it is not the same coffee they drink at home.

I hope the situation will change over time and it's up to us to ask for good coffee everywhere. (BTW, K-Citymarket at Iso Omena does have a fresh coffee desk, I don't know what they're selling though..)

PS. Check out Delicato on kalevankatu, they make pretty good coffee..

Monday, June 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Glad to hear you moved to Finland, I hope you can post advices on where to find locally freshly roasted coffee (besides Roberts and Mokkamestarit).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008  
Blogger Teme said...


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I have been to Gran Delicato a few times and they are indeed one the best places in Helsinki for good coffee. But they do not have what I am looking with regards to buying freshly roasted beans for home...

Kaffa is now available from Parhiala and Kaffecentralen. This is great news as Kaffa is still the only coffee available in Finland (that I have found) that I am completely happy with. I have also managed to get my hands onto some freshly roasted Gran Palomar from Andesa, but it still did not work for me.

The only problem I have with Kaffa is the availability. By this I do not mean the number of retailer because when that increases other problems inevitably arise. I mean that the circulation is still not as high as it could be and as a result one cannot just walk in to one of these shops and be sure to get a fresh roast. I'm sure things will improve once the public gets a whiff of the product and the volume increases (this it definitely deserves).


Tuesday, July 29, 2008  
Blogger Samuli said...

Kaffa coffees are now available in our Crema web store at www.crema.fi, so people who don't live next to Kaffecentralen or Parhiala can also easily enjoy their excellent coffees :-)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008  
Anonymous milo said...

I love kaffa coffee.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008  
Anonymous coffeelover said...

I'm glad to see that many have other suggestions for you. I feel for you and I sincerely hope you succeed in your coffee quest.

Thursday, October 09, 2008  
Blogger Teme said...

Since my last post I have had a couple of positive experiences :)

1) Kaffa has improved on their Arabica espresso blend (and they also roast it slightly lighter if I am not mistaken).
2) Kaffa has introduced a second espresso blend - one suited for milk. Good.
3) I have managed to get my hands on a freshly roasted batch of Cafetoria's Pavoni R Plus blend and I have to say I like. It is a good balance between straight and milk drinks but naturally not ideal for either.
4) I have tried caffa.fi and I like their attitude, approach and service. However, I do think their offering is way too broad to keep up freshness that I think this is crucial...

To sum up: Things seem to be getting better. I hope this is a permanent trend.


Saturday, November 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Was in touch with the main culprit of Caffi recently, and he told me that they also roast on demand. This can be done even on short notices. For batches less than 1 kg they use an i-roast but have a bigger in-store roaster as well..


Saturday, March 14, 2009  

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