Consumer coffee in Finland
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!