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Welcome to Finland: Where Hospitality is Found in a Beverage

How coffee and alcohol play an influential role in shaping Finnish culture

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For Finnish citizens, a hot cup of “kahvi” is necessary to begin every morning, workday, and afternoon. Although not known for its coffee, the beverage is more than just a preference in Finland. Coffee has shaped Finnish homes, work culture, and continues to be an influential social aspect for the country.

 

According to the International Coffee Organization, Finland ranks as the top coffee consuming country in the world – brewing up to 12 liters per person. Similarly, the flow of wine and beer in Finland is at a new high, reaching 12.3 liters per person and ranking 16th among the top alcohol consuming countries of 2019. The centrality of Finland’s coffee culture comes with specific social rules: you must always offer your guests coffee, you must never refuse a cup, and once you’ve had enough, you can say “Ehkäpä vain puoli kuppia” (maybe just half a cup).

 

However, alcohol culture in Finland is less about politeness and more about how much an individual can drink. It is rude to not partake in a drink, but it is even more offensive to not binge drink. The country has raised concerns about the rising alcohol-related health issues and social risks as the Finnish government continues to promote better drinking habits. If one is ever invited into a Finnish home, it is essential to remember to never refuse a cup of coffee or a pint of beer but to receive it as a gesture of hospitality and a window into Finnish culture.

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