Karin Stenbäck //
// 31.3.2017

What to Expect at the Helsinki Coffee Festival in 2017?

The third annual Helsinki Coffee Festival will be held from April 21 to 23 at Kaapelitehdas. It’s a three day event bursting with coffee lovers and everything around coffee. If you work with coffee or are even slightly interested in it, Helsinki Coffee Festival is for you. These big events can sometimes feel somewhat frightening to beginners in the coffee world, so here are 5 tips of what to do and expect when you enter the festival.

Helsinki Coffee Festival 2016 atmosphere

1. Meet the roasters and baristas

We, baristas and roasters, are there for you! Ask questions, start a conversation, tell about your own experiences, challenge us and have fun with us. There is no such thing as a stupid question! We are eager to answer all the questions and tell you everything we know. Even among us we are sharing knowledge continuously and teaching each other, so be brave and open your mouth. We don’t bite! 

baristas hand brewing at the Helsinki coffee festival

You get to know the coffee roastery, their values and their way of doing things, when you see people who work there. It’s a perfect opportunity to get closer and under the skin and be part of the ever so wonderful coffee family. We are welcoming and friendly people, open to new ideas and willing to spread the joy of coffee. And if you don’t feel like talking, a high five will do too.

Also, there are usually great deals at the festival if you wish to buy coffee or spinoffs, so keep your eyes open when you wander around.

2. Try yourself

Helsinki Coffee Festival is a great place to learn how to make excellent coffee, no matter if it’s hand-brewed or brewed with an espresso machine, made at home or in a café. Different roasteries have different “schools” and set ups where you can participate and actually learn by doing. We believe that learning by doing is also the best way to understand the beauty and magic of coffee. It makes you way more excited if you can roll your sleeves and be a superstar barista yourself.

This year’s Helsinki Coffee Festival is full of things you can try yourself. You can learn how to brew espressos and froth milk, and also how to make latte art. There are different kinds of tastings from cupping to food and coffee pairing, where you can easily notice all the different aromas and characters coffee actually has. If you’re a fan of filter coffee, you can try all the different hand brewing methods and choose your favorite. You can also learn how the machines should be cleaned properly to make them last longer and brew delicious coffee, which is a crucial part of your overall coffee experience. Being enthusiastic never hurt anyone!

3. Follow the coffee and barista competitions

Who has the best coffee in Finland? The answer may differ depending on who you ask. To make answering a bit easier, a filter coffee and an espresso coffee of the year are going to be chosen at the festival. All the Finnish coffee roasteries have had the chance to send their best and most unique coffee to the competition and the honored jury will choose the best in both categories on Saturday live at the festival. Exciting especially for us baristas and roasters, but also for consumers!

Helsinki Coffee Festival 2016 barista competition

If you like excitement and competitions, on Saturday you can follow the Brewers Cup where baristas are competing and showing their skills in hand brewing. On Sunday there will be the National Barista Championships of Finland, where the baristas are evaluated based on their sensory and technical abilities among other things. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about coffee while listening to the baristas explaining in detail of what they are doing and where their coffee comes from and how it’s processed etc. Both of these competitions are organized by SCAE Finland (Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, Finnish Chapter). All of the competitors are super talented, so it’s going to be a though call and interesting to watch! 

4. Dig deeper

If you want to be a barista one day or simply want to deepen your knowledge about coffee, there are loads of panel discussions and interviews at the Helsinki Coffee Festival that you can follow. You can also take part yourself by asking questions from the panelists and guests. Click here for the schedule. 

On Saturday you can listen to researchers talking about the history of coffee and how it has affected our lives during all these years. If you’re spontaneous and a person who always likes to try something new, it would be highly recommended to go and listen to people telling about all the odd and curious things you can do with coffee. That’s also a good way to know what’s trendy and hip at the moment.

On Sunday you should definitely go and see, when Brazilian, Colombian and Indonesian coffee farmers are being interviewed. How often do you have the chance to meet actual farmers from those far away countries? It’s interesting to hear their side of the story and to listen to their wisdom firsthand of the precise work of coffee farming. We need to understand and appreciate where our precious coffee is coming from. There’s also discussions about sustainability and how we can improve our actions in the coffee business. It is a huge topic on everyone’s lips at the moment and definitely interesting to listen to.

5. Have fun!

Whatever your background is, the most important thing to remember is to have fun. Festivals are held around the world to get people together and have fun with each other.

Helsinki coffee festival guests exploring

Enjoy the atmosphere with all your senses: feel, breathe in, see, smell, listen to, taste and laugh. Yes, coffee should definitely be taken seriously, but even the most serious things are best with some sense of humour. Have an open mind and a smile on your face!

If you’re not around at the time of the Helsinki Coffee Festival, there are other coffee festivals coming up later this year, for example in Berlin (September 1-4) and New York (October 13-15). What would be a better reason to travel than coffee? ;)