You’ll Never Guess What Finns Put In Their Coffee

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.