You’ll Never Guess What Finns Put In Their Coffee

An unusual Finnish coffee tradition that you can try yourself at home—with the right ingredient.

Cup of Kaffeost with red question marks in the foreground

Last Updated on December 19, 2023

Picture yourself in a quaint Finnish cottage, a fire crackling in the background and snow gently falling outside. You’ve just been handed a steaming mug of coffee, and then the unthinkable happens: Your host drops a chunk of cheese into your coffee. As you gasp in surprise, your host merely smiles and says, “Kaffeost.

What is Kaffeost?

Kaffeost, which translates to “coffee cheese” in Swedish, is a unique Finnish coffee tradition with its roots in Scandinavia. This peculiar custom involves adding a slice of cheese, usually a type called Leipäjuusto or “bread cheese,” to a cup of hot coffee. The cheese absorbs the coffee, creating a warm, melty, and slightly sweet treat at the bottom of your cup.

Leipäjuusto cheese
© Tiia Monto | Creative Commons

A Brief History

  • Originating in the northern regions of Finland, Sweden, and Norway, Kaffeost dates back several centuries.
  • Historically, it was a practical way to combine two common food items, particularly during the harsh winters when resources were scarce.
  • The cheese used in Kaffeost, Leipäjuusto, is a traditional Finnish cheese made from cow’s, reindeer’s, or even goat’s milk.
  • Leipäjuusto is also known as “squeaky cheese” due to the unique sound it makes when bitten into.
Chunks of Finnish cheese
© Antti T. Nissinen | Creative Commons

Preparing Kaffeost at Home

Want to try this intriguing Finnish coffee tradition for yourself? Here’s a simple guide to making Kaffeost at home:

  1. Find the cheese: Look for Leipäjuusto or a suitable substitute like Finnish Juustoleipä, Halloumi, or Queso de Bola at your local specialty grocery store.
  2. Slice the cheese: Cut the cheese into small, thin slices, approximately 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Prepare your coffee: Brew your favorite coffee, making sure it’s nice and hot.
  4. Add the cheese: Drop a slice or two of cheese into your coffee and let it sit for a minute or two to absorb the coffee and become soft.
  5. Enjoy: Sip your coffee and savor the transformed cheese at the bottom of your cup. You can use a spoon to eat the cheese or, if you’re feeling adventurous, tip the cup and enjoy the cheese-infused coffee all in one go.


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A Cultural Connection

Though it may seem like an odd combination at first, Kaffeost is a cherished tradition that brings people together in Finland. It’s more than just a quirky culinary experience; it’s a symbol of warmth, hospitality, and friendship. So, the next time you find yourself in a Finnish home, embrace the unexpected and say yes to Kaffeost. You may find that it’s a delightful surprise your taste buds won’t forget.

In Finland, a coffee so neat,
Where cheese in the cup takes a seat.
With a sip and a bite,
It's a culinary delight,
Kaffeost, a warm, melty treat.

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