Posted in Kafevend Blog
Finland, like the rest of Scandinavia, is one of the top coffee drinking nations of the world, let alone Europe. In fact most sources cite Finland as 'number one' for cups of coffee consumed per capita. The Finns tend to prefer a very light roast. Tap water in Finland is considered amongst the highest quality in the world. The soft tap water, coupled with Finnish insistence on high quality coffee beans, means that a darker roast to disguise flavour defects just isn't required. But how did coffee achieve such popularity there in the first place?
Finland was part of the kingdom of Sweden, when in the early 1700s coffee was introduced to that part of the world. In the beginning it was seen as a health product that could cure all manner of ailments and was sold through pharmacies as a result. Expensive to buy, it was the sole province of the wealthy and was drunk primarily on special occasions. As it gained in popularity it began to be viewed with suspicion by those in power, who considered it detrimental to national productivity, mirroring the reaction of Britain's ruling classes to tea at much the same time. Coffee was therefore subject to both high taxation and even prohibition at times. Now there's nothing like prohibition to make the general public want the banned product more and this was the case in Finland; the black market in coffee thrived!
By the time of the turn of the 20th century coffee had become a popular everyday drink, but restrictions were again in force during each of the world wars. During the second world war rationing lead to the use of chicory as a substitute, but it seems clear that Finns have made up for coffee's scarcity ever since.