Never Forget the Pastries: Helsinki Coffeeneuring with Jussi

The Coffeeneuring Challenge countdown clock is on, with five days remaining until the official start of the 2018 challenge. Time to plan for where you will ride and imbibe this year!

Recently, someone asked if the Coffeeneuring Challenge was purely a U.S. activity. While it’s true that the majority of coffeeneurs are in the U.S., the reach of coffeeneuring is broad and continues to grow, thanks to the amazing coffeeneuring community.

Today features Jussi, a coffeeneur in Helsinki, Finland, who always impresses with his detailed write-ups and photos. The fall color in his images also have me excited for cool weather rides for coffee. Any time is good for coffee, but fall weather makes it extra delightful. (If you look closely, you will also see that this post shows that the Coffeeneuring Challenge Board of Directors tend toward leniency when it comes to the beverages, provided that the Spirit of Coffeeneuring is ever-present.) Thank again to Jussi for today’s guest post!

October 13th, Ride number 1 – The Commute
Cafe Tarina, Laajalahdentie 20, Helsinki
38,8 km / 24,1 miles
8 C / 46 F

On the menu today: Pumpkin spice latte (“Want all extras? Cinnamon and whipped cream?”), salted caramel cake.

Detail or two, bike friendliness: There had been a proper tropical storm, the whole October’s worth of rainfall in just over a week. I decided to scout the riverbanks and risen water straight from the work when it finally ceased to rain. I also hoped to see some remains of a violent summer thunderstorm, which caused surprisingly much damage for trees around the capital area.

The cafe is newish, veers on the expensive side though, but the cakes and the friendly atmosphere compensate. There are at least three quite decent cafes quite near each other, and this one differentiates itself by opening and staying later than the others. There’s a rather lousy bike stand, but on the other hand, a fellow patron noticed that my lights were left on. They’re dynamo-powered, but it’s still very kind to be worried about the batteries running out, as it does get rather dark rather early around here.

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October 18th, Ride number 2 – The Road Trip
Kulmakonditoria, Sibeliuksenkatu 17, Järvenpää
90,7 km / 56,4 miles
6 C / 43 F

On the menu today: Hot chocolate (“Want all extras? Whipped cream and marshmallows?”), mangocake.

Detail or two, bike friendliness: As long as there’s any decent weather, off to the countryside I go. I took a long road around lake Tuusulanjärvi, and stopped for coffee in Järvenpää, the city located at the northern end of the lake. Go figure. Also I’ve got photo evidence that the municipality of Nurmijärvi has seven Trumps in their coat of arms.

There’s a rather brilliant cafe, which has even opened some branches around southern Finland. Kulmakonditoria doesn’t really have any bike parking facilities, (I locked the bike on some tree-protecting cages) and the place is a just a bit too fancy for dirty and sweating bikers. They do have a knack for replacing any lost calories, though.

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November 5th, Ride number 3 – The Lake
Coffeeshop Without Walls (Lake Myllynpää)
67,0 km / 41,6 miles
5 C / 41 F

On the menu today: Hot chocolate, brownie bar.

Detail or two, bike friendliness: The weather ceased to be decent for a while: overall rainfall for October was very nearly record-breaking (something like triple the usual amount, and just a mm or two short for the actual record), and on the end of October we even got an actual winter. For two days, though, but still something like 4-6 inches. The punchline is that the city winter maintenance was supposed to begin in the November, and thus they were caught a bit off-guard. The snows melted soon enough, though, and the regular rain took over again. At this time “good weather” really means “no black ice, no storms”, so moderate rain is classified as perfectly good condition for a ride. The next day of actual good weather is likely scheduled sometime in February, and even then it’s well below freezing.

I took a route which took me scouting around some proper gravel grinding, Espoorican roads, overgrown yet protected hedgerow, some unimpressive yet historically important waterfalls and even a BMX dirt. And the lake, which was indeed quite a nice and quite place to prepare the hot chocolate. I’m suspecting that the place would be rather crowded on a nice summer evening.

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November 9th, Ride number 4 – The Roastery
Six Pot Coffee Company, Korppaanmäentie 26, Helsinki
13,1 km / 8,1 miles
6 C / 43 F

On the menu today: Cappuccino, korvapuusti.

Detail or two, bike friendliness: Today I chose to pick up some freshly ground coffee from the local roasters, and as I was unsure whether this counts as coffeeneuring ride this year, I bought a cappuccino and a korvapuusti. Just to be on the safe side. There’s some variation in translating today’s baked good of choice: depending on which Google service you use, you’ll either get this or this. I assure you this instance was of the pastrial variety.

The place itself is smallish (in fact it advertises itself as the world’s smallest coffee roasters) and it’s located in a completely unsuspecting store in a suburb. There’s no real parking facility of any kind, so I just left the bike leaning on the wall, hopefully out of direct view from the street. Prices are decent, and the coffee is (rather unsurprisingly) the best in this year’s competition.

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November 12th,
Ride number 5 – The Miserable Evening
Coffeeshop Without Walls (Maarintorni bird watching tower)
22,1 km / 13,7 miles
1 C / 34 F

On the menu today: Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold Single Malt mid-ride, sticky pudding back home.

Detail or two, bike friendliness: Even if current rules allow coffeeneuring also on weekdays, the schedule dictated some rather mandatory rides. Such as this one. It was dark, cold and rainy, not to mention Father’s day evening, so the tour around Laajalahti bay was not one second longer than necessary. And I might have noticed a deadfall beside the path. No significant bike friendliness was observed. All this contributed to the beverage, which fittingly claims to be “From Scotland’s Highest and Coldest Distillery”. Father was of course celebrated earlier on the day, but it also meant that I couldn’t start early nor find any place open anymore.

The bird watching tower is located on a surprisingly remote place, even if it lies between two Finland’s largest cities and beside the largest university of technology. Not even birds are so daft that they hang around on a place like this in a weather like this, so after the mandatory sips and photos, I returned home to thaw a bit. And for a sticky toffee pudding as a nerve-calming recovery meal.

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November 17th, Ride number 6 – The Hidden Midtown Secret
Cafe Huvila, Mannerheimintie 13B, Helsinki
23 km / 14,3 miles
3 C / 37 F

On the menu today: Coffee, carrot cake.

Detail or two, bike friendliness: Cafe Huvila is pretty much in the middle of the capital (as in “you can see all the important buildings from the yard”), yet all major roads just avoid it and on the other side lies the Töölönlahti bay. I’m fairly confident that this place needs to be visited in the summer. Even on an evening like this, it still was crowded. And I wasn’t even the only tourist taking photos outside, targeting national museum and museum of modern art and house of parliament andandand. I even suspect there might be bike parking, during what they call “biking season”.

The coffee was decent, the cake was good, and the midtown views remained indeed surprisingly good even after leaving the aforementioned yard. The Töölönlahti bay is for obivious reasons a very popular outdoorsy spot, and I’d highly recommend it. A 2,4 km (1,5 mile) loop with separated lanes, outdoor gyms, summertime canoe rentals and some villas-that-were-not-quite-demolished-for-railroad-expansion. And a park. Unfortunately night photography with iPhone is quite challenging, and at least this time I couldn’t invest enough time to use tripod for better pictures. But there will be a next time, right?

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November 19th, Ride number 7 – The Local Joint
Kaffekievari, Pitäjänmäentie 19, Helsinki
8,6 km / 5,3 miles
6 C / 43 F

On the menu today: Cappuccino, chocolate – caramel – peanut cake.

Detail or two, bike friendliness: The last day, miserable weather (this time actual rain), and running out of time. I noticed that a fellow finn (coffinneereur?) did already hit this spot and I would have preferred not to recycle it, but since the place is brand new and pretty much closest to my home anyway, I figured I need to scout it some time anyway.

The place just opened, and they seem to have some teething problems still. Again I needed to look for a place to park the bike, but the service and the offerings certainly warrant another visit in the future. The place is easy to miss and the facade doesn’t really look welcoming. On the other hand, large windows should betray the contents easily.

Want to know more about the Coffeeneuring Challenge? Check it out here. See you out there soon, friends! 

1 Comment

  1. Having just returned from Finland from a work meeting this was a pleasure to read. Helsinki is such a cool city. Despite the long days at FMI, I was able to find a few minutes to take one of the many city bikes for a spin on some of the urban infrastructure specifically for bikes. Thanks! Finland probably isn’t a destination on most people’s lists, but I think it should be, especially cyclists.


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