A guide to Lappeenranta’s coffee scene.
It is no wonder that the Nordic country of Finland occupies the first place in the list of the top coffee consuming nations in the world, with an astonishing 12 kg of coffee per capita annually (WorldAtlas). The average day of a Finn typically comprises of a heavy dose of morning coffee, heavy dose of afternoon coffee and naturally, myriads of coffee breaks in between! Coffeemakers, along with saunas, are doubtlessly, considered a basic necessity in Finnish households. The hardworking ethic, long dark winters and vibrant coffee culture of the country is, perhaps, only part of the explanation behind Finnish people’s acute caffeine addiction.
The modestly sized city of Lappeenranta has not held back on the variety of coffee shops it has to offer. With more than a dozen of coffee shops to choose from, there is a little something for all kinds of coffee as well as non-coffee lovers. In fact, one of those coffee shops has been announced as Finland’s best café of the year 2018 (Helsinki Coffee Festival). Below is a list, accompanied by brief descriptions, of 5 cafés, including Finland’s best café, that are worth paying a visit if you ever find yourself in the city of Lappeenranta.
Famous for their beautiful and delicious cakes, Café Violet can be found in the very centre of Lappeenranta in the vibrant street of Kauppakatu making it the perfect stop in the middle of a busy day. Modern, yet warm and welcoming, the décor invites one to enjoy a cup and relax and maybe even lose the track of time for a bit. Splashes of the hues of the colour violet as well as Eastern aesthetics can be spotted in carefully placed details. The oriental vibes can be also felt in the menu. Caffe Violet offers a selection of both salty and sweet, Turkish delicacies; from jam biscuits and baklava to cheesy twist buns and spinach-feta pie. In recent years, the café has undergone a lot of changes and renovations in order to accommodate the new buffet lunch table, making the cafe a destination also for those with a larger appetite.
Tip! For an enticing and aromatic experience order Caffe Violet’s Turkish tea or Turkish coffee; a cup of strong flavours that will for sure take your taste buds on a trip to the East.
For the hectic, contemporary and Latte Art lovers Robert’s Coffee is the place to go to. Despite belonging to a Finnish chain and being located in the busy shopping mall of IsoKristiina, the café has got character of its own and a fresh and cosy environment to enjoy a cup in. Interestingly enough, the chain is one of the trailblazers when it comes to bringing the ‘take-away’ coffee culture to Finland, thus making it suitable for caffeine-adorers on ‘the run’. Robert’s Coffee will definitely not be of disappointment even to the more demanding “coffee experts” with its impressively extensive drink selection and high-quality coffee beans that are, naturally, ground on the spot.
Tip! In case you are a fan of stronger coffee, request for ‘Café Brutal’, whereas ‘Café Habanero’ espresso is recommended for those who prefer a milder drink. Robert’s Coffee also serves decaf.
For those who not only enjoy being surrounded by the sweet aroma of coffee but also bear a yearning for the “good old times”, Lappeenranta has exactly the perfect fit to offer. Situated in the historic site of Lappeenranta’s fortress, the Majurska building bears an interesting history; the origins of the name itself lie on the old Finnish word to describe the wife of an Army Major (Majuri). The rest of Majurska’s fascinating history shall be left up to you to unravel. A visit at the café will for sure take you on a trip back in time; the vintage undertones are apparent not only in old furniture and decór, but also in details such as the aprons of the lovely personnel and beautiful cups and silverware. But most importantly; Majurska’s selection of sweet and salty goodies made with care and affection in house and traditionally strong filter coffee will leave you yearning for more.
Tip! Combine your visit to the café with a stroll around the graphic old fortress and museums; one could strongly argue that the views from the backyard of the café are the most stunning views in Lappeenranta.
Similarly, our next coffee destination is for vintage and antique enthusiasts but is also perhaps, for the more adventurous types. One would probably need their own vehicle and hefty navigation skills to access this beautiful hidden gem, yet this café is doubtlessly worth the trouble. After a rather lengthy car-ride through the leafy outskirts of Lappeenranta, one may begin to hear ghostly choo-choo’s coming from the old train station of Pulsa. While the building itself dates back to 1869, the conversion of the station into a coffee shop occurred fairly recently; thus and so, the decór is in perfect harmony with both its historical background and contemporary appeal. The drink list is brief and compact - filter coffee drinkers can slurp from the mug of their choosing, a plus that the more demanding drinkers may appreciate – while the selection of homemade cakes and other freshly made comestibles is truly pleasing to the eye and irresistible. Elegant, yet humble this café is definitely a marvellous way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Tip! Much of Pulsan Asema’s beautiful homeware is not only wonderful to look at but is
also available to purchase, along with other aesthetically pleasing bits and bobs; some spare cash would be of good use when visiting the café.
Finally, Finland’s best coffee shop for the year of 2018. Occupying the historic building of a 20th-century warehouse, thus giving it its industrial edge, this café also happens to simultaneously work as the roastery of the renowned “LEHMUS” coffees. Satamatie 6 is for sure what some could describe as “hipster heaven”, with its aesthetically pleasing, vintage-inspired décor, yet, modern and fresh atmosphere. Sipping on a cup of exceptional quality coffee while smooth minimal-electro sounds and beautiful harbour and sandcastle views sooth the mind, is more or less what you one can expect out of a daily stopover at the café. What makes Satamatie 6 a distinctive player on the café scene however, is the variety of different activities, workshops and events; from mini-garden workshops and yoga classes to live music performances all the way from the United Kingdom. What has recently added even more to the ‘Satamatie 6’- experience is the transformation the now takes place during the later hours and weekends. Satamatie 6 recently received the ‘green light’ that allows the café to synchronously operate as what one could describe as a lounge bar, where customers can switch their cup of coffee to either a bottle of locally brewed beer or perhaps a glass of the well-liked espresso martini.
Tip! If you are both a passionate coffee and eclectic beer lover, try Satamatie 6’s luscious coffee-beer, saves you from the trouble of choosing between the two.
By Veronica Kontopoulou