Finnish Family Recipes

While rummaging through a few Barista magazines the other day, I came across some interesting coffee statistics. There, nestled between ads for state-of-the-art grinders and gold-plated tampers, I saw this:

Finns now considered the biggest consumers of coffee in the world.

Per capita, that is, which means they tie the Dutch for first place.

Now considering the size of Finland in comparison to say, the US, that is a lot of freaking coffee.

I find this funny and a bit ironic, as Finland is where my family is from. And my family can drink a ridiculous amount of coffee and, for the most part, still function normally.

So to further perpetuate silly and inaccurate stereotypes, I’d like to share some family recipes that marry two of the Finns’ (supposedly) biggest cultural influences: coffee and alcohol.

And right after I remove my boot knives, I will share some with you.

One thing to consider before I start: in case you believe everything you read, coffee does not sober you up. It just tricks your drunken brain into thinking you are sober. So before consuming these, make sure you’re in for the night. Seriously.

Triple Sec Whipped Cream:

This is your first ingredient. My sisters Saskia and Casey swear by it. I can’t argue. This is the right and true way, and yes, you have to make the whipped cream from scratch. No edible oils, no olestra, and if it comes in a can, forget it.

Add 2 oz of triple sec to the cream and a teaspoon of vanilla. Whip. Set aside.

You will want to make quite a bit. People love it, and all of the following drinks can have this added.

A quick note on spices: the Finns use a lot of cardamom and this spice is not for everyone. My father hates it with a passion and curses our souls when he smells it in the bodem.

You can substitute chocolate, cocoa, or cinnamon to taste.

The Niagara Street:

As young adults, Saskia and I lived together on Niagara Street in Toronto. She would make this lovely coffee to keep us warm, alert, drunk. And to cover up the smell of the slaughterhouse we lived in front of.

Add a pinch of cardamom to your grinds. We used a bodem. Brew and pour into demitasses (wee cups).

Add Bailey’ss (1.5 oz) and a splash of Grand Marnier.

Add a liberal dollop of whipped cream.

Using a rasp or small grater, grate dark chocolate over the whipped cream. Serve.

(On a personal note, I prefer Carolan’s; it seems slightly less sweet.)

Recommended coffee: a medium-dark Ethiopian coffee, or a dark French Roast works nicely.

Vanessa’s Scotchattes:

Using an electric espresso machine, froth your milk. Pull two short shots of espresso, add scotch (1.5 oz) and add frothed milk. Drink.

I have been a test study for these so many times there should be a royalty cheque in the mail.

Recommended coffee: Italian-style espresso. Recommended scotch: 12-year-old Glenlivet. There is beauty in simplicity.

The Cubano:

I have included this as the Finns have their own take on this Cuban drink.

If you have a home espresso machine, this one is for you.

Add a thin layer of brown sugar to the top of your grinds and pull your shots. If you want, add cardamom with your sugar. Or if you want it spicy, add a smidge of cayenne pepper.

Pour your shots into each mug and add 1.5 oz of dark rum. Add whipped cream if you like, or drink it black. The brown sugar sweetens this up nicely.

Recommended coffee: Cuban or a dark Peruvian. Recommended rum: Sailor Jerry’s.

The Original Medulla Banger:

This bad boy was taught to us by our Aunt Carol. She’s not a Finn but, among other things, is an archeologist and anthropologist. Carol spent quite a bit of time in South Africa, where this was taught to her.

Word to the wise: this coffee is really high in caffeine, not for those with high blood pressure, acid reflux, or heart palpitations. For the rest of you: you’re welcome.

This is always made with Cowboy Coffee, no exceptions.

Make your coffee, add 1 teaspoon Kola Nut and 1.5 oz of alcohol. B&B (Benedictine & Brandy) is the booze of choice; otherwise substitute Irish whiskey, or Grand Marnier and cognac.

Top with whipped cream and grated chocolate.

Recommended coffee: African varietals: Kenyan, Ethiopian, or a dark Tanzanian.

Cautionary tale: I stayed up once after drinking this on New Year’s Eve and played 21 rounds of canasta.

As we say in Finnish: “Kittos!” “Thanks!

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