In a forest. In the snow. This is not a joke.
According to the International Coffee Association, each Finn (a person from Finland) consumes about 26 pounds of coffee a year, which averages out to about four cups a day. And while coffee worldwide is beloved, the specialness of a Finnish latte is about more than just the taste of the beverage—it matters how and where you consume it.
The beans, the preparation, and especially the location all add up to one delicious coffee drink. Travel 624 miles north of Helsinki to the town of Levi, about 120 miles above the Arctic circle in Finnish Lapland (you could drive, but it’s best to hop on Finnair’s daily flight from Helsinki to Kittila, the nearest airport) to experience the greatest latte in the world.
If you visit Finland in the winter, you might be lucky to find the Campfire Barista’s coffee-sled (it’s an actual sled pulled by a snowmobile) at Levi’s Christmas Market by Zero Point (the ski slope), or by the Marian kappeli bell tower. However, to really experience this delicious treat, one must head to HaliPuu forest, a family-owned woodland owned by Riitta Raekallio-Wunderink and her husband, Steffan, the Campfire Barista. And it is here, over a campfire, that the best latte you’ll ever have will be prepared for you.
To get to this latte, you’ll have to walk through the serene HaliPuu forest—don’t worry, Riitta will guide you. You might be tired from the strenuous activity and the overwhelmingly fresh air (said to be the cleanest in the world) so it’s best that you arrange to experience Arctic Cocooning. It’s as wonderful and unique as it sounds; 25 minutes nestled in a swaying hammock suspended among the towering Arctic pine and birch trees. You’ll fall asleep listening to psithurism, the Greek word for the wind whispering through the trees, and awake to the smells of campfire and coffee beans.
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INSIDER TIPCan’t make it to Finland? You can download the HaliPuu app to hear the fire crackling and the wind blowing. Referred to as the “Forest in Your Pocket,” the app has short audio and video clips that bring the calm restorative feeling of the forest to where ever you are.
Steffan claims the coffee beans are the first key component to the delicious coffee, roasted in three batches (using solar panels in southern Finland), at three different levels—each level brings out different flavors in the beans that then meld harmoniously with the smoke of the fire. He warns that you can’t expect to get the same effect with just any over-the-counter coffee bean.
The next element of this phenomenal latte is the Campfire Barista’s own special Foresty Chai Syrup (which can now be purchased on their website). The syrup is a mixture of Chaga mushroom (which grows on birch trees in their forest), juniper berries, Chai spices, and sugar. Lapish people say that drinking a drop of Chaga tea adds years to your life. The combination of the earthy Foresty Chai Syrup, the thoughtfully roasted beans, and the peaceful forest surroundings create the most heavenly caffeinated experience you’ll ever have. Though the homemade lingonberry marshmallows (or Riitta’s special lingonberry-chocolate cookies) don’t hurt either. And yes, there’s even frothed milk.
INSIDER TIPThe Tree Hugging World Championships are held every August in these woods, which is fitting as HaliPuu means “hugging tree” in Finnish.
Thankfully, it just got a little easier to get to Finland to experience this latte. Finnair has added a direct flight between Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Helsinki (HEL), which operates four times a week. Finnair also flies direct from Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), and New York (JFK).