Why do the Scandinavians LOVE their coffee?

Written by Lori Thiessen

In the post about the coffee break, I wrote about discovering the origins of the coffee break could have started by a group of Norwegian ladies in the 19th century living in the mid-Western United States. This possible urban legend got me thinking about my Swedish grandmother and her love of coffee.

Apparently, the Scandinavians are the world’s top coffee drinkers with Finns and Swedes vying for the number one position by consuming between 11 and 13 kilos of beans per year per person.

Try though I might, I couldn’t get any real data on why the Scandinavians drink so much coffee. So here are some guesses on my part.

Just in practical terms, it’s dang cold in the Nordic countries so a hot drink is bound to be popular. But the Swedes have a tasty hot drink called glog or grogg which is basically mulled wine.

But I think the Swedes and the Fins latched onto coffee for many of the same reasons that other European countries did. Coffee is a luxury item. It has to be imported from countries like Brazil so it isn’t cheap. People do like their luxuries.

Coffee is also a stimulant. During those long nights in the lands of the midnight sun, something to keep you awake is probably a good thing.

In Finland, alcohol was abolished for a while so coffee was the social drink of choice for many years and it continues to be the ultimate social drink.

It’s a great drink to have during the day because it won’t make you sloshed (unless you add something to it) and it will keep you alert.

There’s my two cents worth on the question of why the Swedes and Finns consume more coffee per capita than anybody else in the world.

If you have any addition information or insights into Nordic café culture, then please do write in. I’d love to hear from you!

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!


One response to “Why do the Scandinavians LOVE their coffee?

  1. Awesome post! As a Finnish girl I know all about our obsession with coffee and coffee breaks! And yes, it’s true, the Finns drink most coffee per capita in the world :O

    To be honest, the coffee is usually low-quality robusta roasted to a very mild roast, so I don’t like the regular coffee there, but luckily things are changing and you can pick up better roasts in stores these days.

    I think people there consume large amounts of coffee because a) there is always a pot of filter coffee brewing in most offices so it’s a part of the working culture, b) people are very hospitable and so when you visit someone – anyone – the first thing they do is offer a cup of coffee. You cannot visit a Finn and not be offered something to drink! and c) It has been a part of the culture forever – a combination of cold winters, hospitality, the need for a caffeine kick when there is no natural light to wake you up properly. I heard stories from my grandmother of the war times when they didn’t get coffee and how they came up with substitutes, and the old grannies I think at one point would pour the coffee onto a saucer and hold a large sugar cube between their teeth and slurp the coffee through the cube…or something like that…haha her stories were great!

    So yes, coffee has been a huge part of the Nordic culture, and I’ve had a love affair with the stuff since I can remember 🙂

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