A COFFEE-LOVERS GUIDE TO THE BEST CAFES IN HELSINKI
It may come as a bit of a surprise that the population of Finland love their coffee, so much so that it is served absolutely everywhere including at gyms! Cafes in Helsinki are a big part of the culture. The Finnish word for coffee is Kahvi, it’s definitely a different taste in that it is milder and lighter than maybe what you’re used to the Finnish filter coffee truly has a delicious and unique taste that any coffee connoisseur has to experience at least once or twice.
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Coffee Culture & Districts in Helsinki
One thing you can count on in Helsinki is that whatever the district, you won’t be too far from a coffee shop. The city actually has around 60 districts (you may not be visiting all 60 however!) which can be viewed on this Helsinki City Districts Map.
What’s the Coffee Culture Like in Helsinki
Finnish coffee culture is certainly booming with the number of coffee spots in Helsinki, the countries capital, being the epicentre of a plethora of coffee hangouts, from a grab and go to a traditional or even contemporary coffee drinking establishment. But of course with coffee, comes not just your traditional coffee but the fancy drinks, lattes and iced versions as well as a side of sweet and savoury treats. Some cafes will serve you at the counter where you’ll order everything you’ll need whereas some will be more of a sit-down service affair, the former is more common these days due to the casual nature of the sport!
Coffee Culture and Dietary Requirements
Helsinki is one of the most accommodating cities you’ll encounter with regards to dietary requirements and therefore it’ll be no surprise that almost all coffee shops and cafes have lactose-free milk but more so because lactose intolerance is quite common in Finland. You can also find oat milk, soya milk and in some places coconut milk but if it’s not out on the counter, it is worth asking for as generally it may be kept in the back to avoid wastage.
Coffee Shop & Cafe Etiquette
It’s always good to know the etiquette in other destinations but food establishments are pretty laid back in Helsinki and coffee and food orders in cafes are generally taken at the counter in most cases.
It’s also great to note that Finland doesn’t have the tipping culture encountered in other parts of the world so tips are not necessary and not expected. However if you feel you’d like to for outstanding service and hospitality, 10% of your total bill left in cash on the counter would suffice.
Coffee Shops & Work Spaces in Cafes in Helsinki
The majority of cases have brilliant wifi and mobile charging points so are ideal to work from as long as you keep them in business with a couple of purchases throughout your time there.
Be-lavie Tip: If you’d like to spend a whole day of remote working, it’s best to head for the larger cafe spaces, which can be found in libraries such as the Oodi
Cafes & Sustainability
cafes and most food outlets in Helsinki are very well versed in lack of food waste and sustainability so you’ll see that menus and options are not extensive but rather seasonal and change on a daily basis. Alternatively there are daily specials based upon the ingredients available. The same goes for coffee and what will be roasted on that particular day. If you order a cold drink or iced coffee, paper straws will be given to your in your drink.
You can take along your own coffee tumblers, which the cafes will happily fill up, together with your own reusable straws and other accessories. Have a look below to search for some great alternative options to promote a more responsible and mindful travel style:
Plastic-Free Reuseable Drinking Straws
Reusable Coffee Cups & Tumblers
A Coffee Lovers Guide to the Best Cafes in Helsinki
Cafes in Kruununhaka
Although Cafe Engel is right on the tourist trail with a great view of Senate Square and Helsinki Cathedral, it’s charm certainly will bowl you over. Its definitely a great spot for a weekday lunch, coffee or one of their great selection of fruit teas.
If you get here mid-morning, grab a seat outside so you can enjoy the historic views of Senate Square.
- Location: Aleksanterinkatu 26, 00170 Helsinki
- Visting Information: Cafe Engel https://www.cafeengel.fi/
- Be-lavie Recommendation: Cinnamon buns lighted dusted in icing sugar accompanied by a fruit iced tea. The traditional black coffee is typical of Finnish Kahvi.
Be-lavie Tip: Breakfast coffee refills are complimentary.
Cafes in Kaartinkaupunki
If you’re in Helsinki City centre, the Old Market Hall is a must visit to see the high end stalls serving and selling caviar, cheese, and varieties of reindeer meats. Story is located right in the centre of the beautiful Old Market Hall of distinct Scandinavian design. Once again this place does feel a little touristy but this is due more to its location but the coffee is great and the seating area is decorated with green plants. The food is prepared on site including breakfast omelettes, eggs Benedict, porridge and house granola. Lunch options here include ‘homely’ meals to include a meat or fish option, which changes daily and the salad variety is seasonal. Story’s patisserie and breads come straight form their own bakery.
- Location: Old Market Hall. Eteläranta, 00130 Helsinki
- Visiting Formation: Story
- Be-lavie Recommendation: The plane bake Khaki here is really good. You pay at the counter and help yourself to it on the side. They also have oak milk and whole milk on the side. The pastry selection look delicious too but this is a great stop to also just grab a great tasting coffee.
Cafes in Kluuvi
When it comes to coffee houses you won’t get more stylish that this place. Mismatched comfy yet colourful furniture, beautiful rattan lighting and other quirky details, the instagram crown will be glad they chose Cafe Ihana. Not only does it excite in looks but also its offerings are pretty damn fine. Indulgent hot drinks made with no scrimping (cold, alcoholic, non-alcoholic also available) and delicious savoury and sweet options make this a great all rounder to hang out in the city centre. It’s a quite and relaxed spot with locals so pretty authentic too.
- Location: Aleksanterinkatu 7-9, 00101 Helsinki
- Visting Information: Ihana Kahvi
- Be-lavie Recommendations: If it’s just a quick drink, grab a window seat and make is a chai latte or hot white chocolate with cream
Check Out these Tours Accessible from the City Centre
The city centre is a great spot to start and end tours from as it’s so accessible from all areas but small group tours or private tours are recommended to get the best out of your interests. It’s also an authentic way to see the city and get some lowdown on the way locals like to do things, not to mention the history that is passed down. If you’re short of time and want to cram in as many spots as possible the Helsinki Hope on Hop Off Bus is a great option in all weathers.
Helsinki Small Group Tour
24 Hours Hop-On Hop-Off City Bus Pass
Helsinki Private Tour with a Local
Cafes in Taka-Töölö
You will most probably be heading to Töölö to go and visit the National Museum of Finland or even the Sibelius Monument. It’s a little way out of town but definitely worth the walk. You also pass by the Oodi Library.
Relove is a second hand designer shop, lifestyle and home store and also incorporates a pretty cafe in hues in pinks and light pastels.
The service is incredibly attentive with food service ranging from all day breakfast, a lunch menu which changes daily as well as great pastries and snacks. This is the spot to get your fancies, coffees, lattes, pretty lemonades and cold presses!
- Location: Sandelsinkatu 6, 00260 Helsinki
- Visiting Information: Relove
- Be-lavie Recommendation: Try their breakfast sets or (Break sets) which avocados breads or stuffed croissants or even an açai bowl to mention a few. All these bowls come with organic tea na coffee.
This is very much your instagram haven, if you love your photography and beautiful landmarks, check The Best Iconic Photo Locations in Helsinki. This special red cottage style cafe, that used to be storage for fishnets back in time, is situated right by the water and is decorated with quirky memorabilia. They serve great food, snack, the best cinnamon and cardamom fresh buns in the city and if you’re visiting in winter, try the hot chocolate. With blueberry pie, It also open from 08:00-23:00!
- Location: Merikannontie 8, 00260 Helsinki,
- Visiting Information: Cafe Regatta
- Be-lavie Recommendation: Cardamom buns, coffee and freshly squeezed juices. The cafe has a great range of vegan and vegetarian (non-vegetarian too) snack like hot dogs and sandwiches.
Cafes in Ullanlinna
A personal favourite, the Design district is a great area to hang out with the coolest looking streets as well as boutique stores and great restaurants including beautiful hotels such as the Hotel Lilla Roberts: an Art-Deco Inspired Residence.
This cafe is set in quite a residential street and clearly has its regulars dropping in for a coffee each morning and later a group of elderly gents who sit and chat with a newspaper and coffee around mid-morning. The interiors has a very oldie 1950’s vibe and the coffee and cinnamon buns are incredible.
- Location: Korkeavuorenkatu 2, 00140 Helsinki
- Visting information: Cafe Succes
- Be-lavie Recommendations: A great morning treat, grab a cappuccino or Mocha (with a cream topper) and take a pew outside! Included is a side of people-watching!
Cafes in Länsisatama
Located right on the shore, this black log exterior restaurant turned outdoor cafe is a great spot for watching the boats go by! Birgitta serves a great range of burgers, rolls, pastries with a relaxed atmosphere, slick service and great choice of tunes playing in the background. Pre or post visit you can take a lovely walk along the pebbly shore and take in the coastal breeze especially during the summer months.
Location: Hernesaarenranta 2, 00150 Helsinki
Visiting Information: Cafe Birgitta
Be-lavie Recommendation: the hot drinks, alcoholic beverages and food are great but during teh summer an iced latte is definitely the choice!
Cafes in Vallila & Alppiharju
Located in the banking district of the city, Cafe Sävy is made for the coffee connoisseurs. The coffees are roasted at Good Love Roastery, based in Helsinki therefore you’ll be in coffee heaven having not just the traditional Khaki but more of what you see around the world. This is also a spot where you will find some award winning Baristas – yes the Barista game is pretty high here. Coffee art at its best too if you like that kind of thing!
- Location: Aleksis Kiven katu 12, 00500 Helsinki
- Visiting Information: Cafe Savy
- Be-lavie Recommendation: The coffee sets are brilliant and great value too. Being. Simple breakfast lover, this is perfect, Natural yoghurt with homemade granola, honey & fresh berries. Croissant from Greenbake Bakery. Filter coffee from Good Life Coffee Roasters / Tea from The Seventh Cup
Cafes in Kammpi
It would be sheer sacrilege to go to Helsinki and not visit the Ekberg cafe. It dates back to 1852, therefore making it the oldest cafe in all of Finland.
It’s an utterly beautiful cafe with a delicatessen on one side as well as coffee, drinks, take out dishes, light lunches, pastries, and freshly baked breads. They even have beautifully packaged foods to take out. It’s filled with locals enjoying lunch or a coffee break and has a great atmosphere too.
- Location: Bulevardi 9, 00120 Helsinki,
- Visiting Information: Cafe Ekberg
- Be-lavie Recommendation: You could sit and eat in this place all day, plus grabbing a seat outside means fabulous people watching opportunities! An iced latte is perfect or go for something a little more traditional!
Cafes in Punavuori
Located in the Maritime district Merikortteli, located at the edge of Punavouri. This roastery has sustainability and the planet at the forefront of its coffee with seasonal variations in what they roast. A definitely place for the coffee buffs amongst us. Kaffa also sell coffee making products to make the perfect home coffee including filters, aero presses, grinders and lots more. The coffee is a big deal here. Oh and they also have a great little serving hatch, if you’re in a hurry!
- Location: Pursimiehenkatu 29, 00150 Helsinki
- Visiting Information: Kaffa Roastery
- Be-lavie Recommendation: A filter coffee is the perfect thing to try here, made to perfection and precision by the baristas.
Cafes for Great People Watching in Helsinki
A great cafe and people watching goes hand in hand, so if this is your part-time craft then the cafes where you’ll need to grab a good spot, and preferably outdoors are:
- Cafe Engel
- Cafe Regatta
- Cafe Ekberg
- Cafe Birgitta
- Cafe Succès
A Coffee Lovers Guide to the Best Coffee Shops in Helsinki Round Up
The Finns are one of the biggest consumers of coffee around the world and the number of great cafes (there are far more than mentioned here!!) in Helsinki is testament to this fact. The country has a complete focus on sustainability led from the top and this is relegated in the coffee sourcing as well as well as the food waste policies they have in place.
The coffee culture in Helsinki is very distinct yet relaxed and a wonderful cultural experience to adopt when visiting the city as well as the country. It’s most definitely a pass time and they say that Finland is the happiest country in the world – maybe coffee plays a part in that!
Helsinki Food & Drinks Tours
Although just coffee tours in Helsinki are a little difficult to locate, a great option is to discover a food tour of the city which is private and then try and have the guide tailor it to your needs to include some of the city’s best coffee hangouts! Small group tours may also be a great option if you’re paired up with some coffee and cafe fiends, you could direct the tour more towards this angle.
Helsinki Food Tour Including Tastings
Private Helsinki Food & Beer Tour
- A Beautiful Art-Deco Hotel in Helsinki: Hotel Lilla Roberts
- How to Best Spend 72 Hours in Helsinki Sustainably
- The Best Vegetarian Dining in Helsinki: Restaurants & Rooftops
- Discover the Best Photo Locations in Helsinki
Everything looks so freaking delicious! Great guide!
Ahh thankyou, the coffee culture in Helsinki is really fabulous if you’re a coffee lover esepcially!
That is such a tempting list for coffee enthusiasts and coffee lovers.
I haven’t even included them all as I didn’t get to some of the ones that I wanted to head to. An excuse for another visit I guess.
This post speaks to my heart as I love discovering local coffee shops when I travel abroad. This is such a comprehensive list and I will be sure to refer back to it when I go to Finland. I pinned for future reference.
Ahhh I’m so glad and I really hope you get the chance to experience the coffee culture in Helsinki. Thanks so much for your lovely comment and I hope you’ll enjoy my recommendations when you visit Finland.
Such a nostalgic post for me as I used to live and study in Helsinki for 4 years! My favourite coffee shops in Helsinki are definitely Regatta and Café Esplanad. Used to hang out with my besties there all the time <3
Oh wow I’m a little annoyed I never made it to Cafe Esplanad as I heard gret things about it. Also how lucky are you spending 4 years out there!
I love coffee, reading, and exotic domains so I would love all the Helsinki coffee cafes. What a great roundup!
Ahh yes Terri, you would really love the coffee culture in Helsinki for sure!
Just read this wonderful post drinking a coffee and I am immediately going to make myself another coffee after reading this!
Haha it does have that effect on you Laura! The cafe culture is insanely good in Helsinki.