The Flat White Diaries: Two very different outcomes in Helsinki

A somewhat belated edition of the Flat White Diaries.

It was a cold Saturday morning. I was sleeping peacefully. I was warm. Toasty. 

It was 5:02am.

Jacqui woke me up, because my alarm, which was supposed to do so 2 minutes earlier, was not set. Cue mad rush to get ready and get to the ferry. We just made it in time. Cue me falling asleep in an awkward position on said ferry. Arrive in Helsinki. Sleepy.

Mission 1: Locate coin locker at the main station.

Mission 2: Obtain caffeine.

Fortunately, missions one and two were able to be completed at the station!

Robert’s Coffee: The standard Euro FW+1

Flat white, €3.80 (I think)

Robert’s Coffee is nice in that Robert is an actual person, and not just some branding creation. You can find Robert’s Coffee shops in Finland, Estonia, Sweden… And for some reason Japan and Qatar? Good on ya Robert, for continuing to grow I guess!

There is a small Robert’s Coffee in Helsinki’s main train station. I was a little disappointed that Robert himself didn’t make my coffee, but I figured it was Saturday morning and he was probably a Monday-to-Friday guy.

Finns drink the most coffee in the world, so I was curious to find out if the quality was taken into consideration alongside quantity.

It was the perfect small, because this was an actual flat white.

There seems to be an assumption in Europe that a flat white contains two shots – an idea I’ve encountered a few times on previous travels. Sure, the second shot was a welcome addition given my state at the time, but strictly speaking, it’s a single shot drink unless you order a larger size.

A bit on the hot side. In fact, they burned the milk a little. Robert, take note – I know you’re reading this.

I asked for a takeaway FW+1 and got a little something extra. I look at it as an early Christmas gift.

Espresso House: The push-button let down

Flat white, €3.80

Espresso House is the largest chain in the Nordic countries; founded in Sweden and trying to put poor old Robert out of business. Bastards.

It was a really busy Sunday morning (nothing else was open yet) so the staff were flat out (geddit?), but that wasn’t the reason that this coffee was poor.

It was huge. Too big. Which is part of why it was crap. The photo doesn’t show it well, but that cup was as tall as me.

It was a watery-milky mess owing to the fact that it was too big. The fact that the coffee was made by pushing buttons – seemingly no manual parts in the process – didn’t help.

At least this was fine.

An overall let down. It wasn’t helped by it being so busy that staff had no time to bus so there were cups and crap everywhere!

And so, I left Helsinki for the first time, realising that quantity doesn’t always ensure quality in the world of coffee consumption. 

I’m still confident that one day I’ll open my own cafe called The Nordic Hipster.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.