The United States of America with numerous established coffee shop chains and other culinary outlets is always associated with coffee drinking but in terms of world consumption, it is only middle ranking in the statistics.  Most people know that Finland has one of the highest rates of coffee consumption in the world at around 10 – 12 kilos per person, and if that includes non-coffee drinking kids and folks, then coffee drinking Finns are very high consumers of the dark stuff.

This weekend sees the Helsinki Coffee Festival taking place at the Cable Factory, and Finland Today went along to find out how eco-friendly the coffee industry has become in Finland. Recent publicity about the environmental problems of plastics ending contaminating the sea, non-degradable disposable cups and sustainable production has all got people questioning more about the products they consume every day.

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Most people know that Finland has one of the highest rates of coffee consumption in the world at around 10 – 12 kilos per person.

Jarkko Issukka of the Robert Paulig Roastery returned last week from the London Coffee Festival and had some interesting comments. The Finnish coffee industry appears to be further ahead than the UK in regard to sourcing coffee beans in a sustainable way. Fairtrade guarantees a reasonable price to the growers but if the farmers drop out of the scheme they end up no better off.

The Paulig Group coffee buyers now source the company’s beans through Volcafe Way, an organization that links farmers to the supply chain, while improving the growers’ coffee production and business skills, and also helping community projects. The Robert Paulig Roastery has recently partnered with Skiffer Restaurants to produce their own coffee blend for use and sale in their six restaurants.

Apparently, Skiffer Restaurants no longer use disposable plastics and will be making a donation to the Clean the Baltic campaign for each packet of coffee sold. However, Jarkko did admit that London appeared to be ahead of the game with provision of biodegradable disposable coffee cups.

Next month The Robert Paulig Roastery will start roasting beans using sun-powered energy following installation of solar panels and hope to produce more electricity than they consume.  In fact, most of the coffee producers that I spoke to at the show said that they were using bio-gas or bio-produced electricity.

Susanna Päkkilä of Arvid Nordquist, the Swedish coffee producer, highlighted their eco-credentials.  100% of their coffee is certified sustainable by UTZ, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and KRAV so that working conditions are fair, and that consideration is shown to the environment throughout the entirety of the production chain.

The production of coffee causes carbon emissions during cultivation, transport and roasting. So Arvid Nordquist Coffee is also actively working to reduce these emissions and the environmental impact. Planting trees in coffee growing countries so they can carbon offset for the carbon emissions that cannot be reduced at the moment. Susanna told me something that I had not realized, the difference between Finnish and Swedish coffee.  Swedish coffee tends to be drunk darker and stronger and so the beans are ground finer to slow the percolating hot water and add more flavor.

Not only coffee at the coffee festival, tea drinkers will be relieved to hear that there were at least two tea supply businesses representing the slow increase in Finnish drinking of the brew. The Théhuone had a selection of wonderful smelling tea leaf mixtures and a refreshing matcha iced tea for the coming summer afternoons. Matcha is a blend of mango and lemon juice mixed with organic Japanese green tea. No added sugar, very healthy and very tasty.

All the coffee making equipment and accessories under the sun were to be seen at the festival. Finnish design was represented by the small company of Hile, who produce accessories for coffee drinkers such as a cleverly combined filter coffee bag sealer and measuring spoon. It was nice to discover that their products are sustainably and locally produced in birch wood.

If you are a coffee lover this festival is definitely for you. This year it is over the weekend, and I suspect that the popularity Helsinki Coffee Festival will keep it an annual feature for the spring.

Helsinki Coffee Festival 2018 at the Cable Factory 20.-22.4.2018.