Finland is by nature a nation of extremes. However, this phrase is not only applicable to its climate, with temperatures that can vary 70 degrees between summer and winter. Finns tend to be very involved in everything they do and to give their best, whether it's carrying their wives on their shoulders during a race, winning international strength competitions or world sauna championships, although the latter might be at the cost of irreversible burns as happened in 2010.
And these devoted Finnish people also like a lot coffee. So it is not surprising that Finland is the country with the highest per capita coffee consumption in the world. Not in Italy neither in France nor Spain with their fancy and artisan coffee shops, the world capital of coffee is up in the far north, in the middle of the frozen woods of pine and birch of one of the most peculiar nations in Europe.
According to the latest statistics published by the International Coffee Association (ICO), Finland is one of the world’s largest consumer of coffee: in this small country scarcely populated with just 5.5 million inhabitants, each citizen swallows the astonishing amount of 12 kilograms of raw coffee per year, on average terms.
It is a lot, especially compared to the consumption of other countries that also claim to love coffee and that have a much wider network of cafeterias, places that tend to be trendy when it comes to serving all kinds of coffee products. For example, in Italy the average consumption of coffee is 5.7 kilograms per person and year, while Spaniards consume 4.5 kilos annually.
Not just because it is cold
Some analysts tend to attribute the high consumption of coffee by the Finns to the harshness of the Finnish climate: the days are long and cold and everyone likes to get home and warm up with a good cup of coffee, usually say. However, this is a superficial explanation because Finns usually drink the same number of cups of coffee during the winter and the summer months, when temperatures exceed 25 degrees in positive.
Drinking coffee in Finland is not only a way to warm the body, but also a habit of life and a way of cultivating social life. Therefore, Finns always find a good reason to warm a pot and it is common to be invited to coffee when visiting a Finnish home, no matter the time of the year.
Another explanation could be in the type of coffee that is consumed in this part of the world in comparison with that drunk in southern Europe. Finnish coffee is softer and watery, it can be swallowed without milk by long drinks and in huge cups. Nobody in Italy, France or Spain would think of taking a strong, concentrated espresso of those served in their cafeterias in half-liter cups. Not to mention in the case of Turkish coffee. The body would hardly stand it.
The exception of Luxembourg
However, Finland does not occupy the number one at ICO’s ranking in terms of per capita consumption. This honour is for Luxembourg with its 24 kilos per person and year, largely explained by the cross-border trade with Germany. The Germans love coffee too, and they are happy to buy it cheaper from their neighbours.
Finnish coffee producers do not expect significant changes in the amount of coffee consumed by the population. The Marketing Manager of the Finnish coffee company Paulig’s, Karri Kauppila, declared recently to the Finnish public TV network (YLE) that “coffee habits can always change; the way we drink coffee has become much more diverse. But in terms of volume we have already maxed out. There is no way consumption can grow any larger”.