I just love it. I just LOVE coffee! It’s the ever present mistress that rules my world; it’s the reason for those sleepless nights, reckless dreams and the twitching in my eye.
Okay I’ll admit it, I may not be a coffee expert but I worked in countless cafés for more than a decade and I’ve been enjoying the hell out of coffee religiously for at least a quarter of a century, in the country that proudly consumes it the most in the whole wide world, no less; Finland that is.
So… As anyone would have gathered by now, I may have a few things to say about it every now and then…



Coffee, coffee, coffee… It’s not just another warm drink. There is something romantic and social about it. I sit by the window at my favorite café; watch people go by and surrender to a daydream. I do that in the company of a freshly ground and brewed cup of java letting its steam make its way to my ever-yearning lungs. With every sip the experience gets heavenlier… or something like that. Any coffee lover would know exactly what I’m talking about but only in his/her own unique way.

I worked in cafés for more than a decade and got to see how it connects people, even the ones from fairly different backgrounds, on sort of a secret level that was only known to them which went way beyond that superior taste and made ‘the club’ all the more special. Experiencing this, day in day out, and being a part of that community carves something into one’s soul and I think it’s kind of the explanation, or simply the excuse that I had been searching for, for my addiction.

Things come and go; hell, people come and go! But coffee is forever.



Coffee beans are like grapes to make wine of. They differ from each other depending on where they grow and what climate they are subjected to, etc. Quality beans are inevitably going to be more expensive because it’s not possible to grow them just about anywhere and under whatever climate; that creates some sort of a scarcity if you will.

Then there are beans which are not as ‘picky’ about where they grow and the conditions; although not as easy going as a producer would hope either. Of course, the latter bean type is going to be cheaper but as everything else in life that is effortlessly attainable, it will lack in taste and quality department.

If you’re after quality go with Arabica beans. Arabica beans grow on higher altitudes over 800 meters high and they don’t need as much rain as the other beans. The temperature needed for Arabica beans would be between 15-25 ºC. Arabicas cherries are harvested by hand-picking because that’s the only way to ensure that only the ripe cherries are picked. It’s a slow process but that’s one of the ways to maintain its quality and the higher prices sort of make up for the time and effort spent.

Unless you are a coffee enthusiast with an excruciatingly sensitive palate Robusta beans may not be that awful for you. Robustas can survive between sea level and 800 meters high places. They like rain and heat; somewhere between 25-30 ºC. They can survive in harsh conditions. The picking methods are not as precise as the ones used to pick Arabicas. Usually machines are used to strip the coffee plant branches off of its cherries all at once which makes it very difficult to separate the ripe ones from the not so ripe ones of course.

What happens is that coffee producing companies mix Arabica and Robusta beans to create more affordable blends of their own, that would probably end up in diners and cafés that don’t charge you for extra cups, who knows? Plain Arabica coffee is far more superior without a doubt but at the end of the day, it’s a taste matter and the choice is yours.



One of the important factors in what our cup of coffee tastes like is the roasting process. As I mentioned before coffee beans are like wine grapes. They come with different qualities. Two main species are Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Although one gets to recognize the difference in time that doesn’t mean that all Arabica or all Robusta beans would end up tasting the same after all the processing is done.

As far as the roasting goes what one should know is this the darker the bean gets the lesser the original taste of that particular origin remains. For example if you’re drinking overly done Costa Rica coffee, it will be difficult to tell the difference from another type. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a taste issue that’s all. Because there is also a certain flavor that comes from the sort of ‘burnt’ bean and some people prefer that. I personally enjoy beans that are in the middle; in general that is. Then there are times I feel like going completely dark and enjoy a cup of coffee that taste like poison to some; with no sugar and cream mind you.

So get into your ‘judgmental’ shoes and try different beans with different roast levels. Find your own favorite.



Sometimes you’re in a hurry and there doesn’t seem to be a damn place where you can find a quality cup of coffee. But wait! There is an automatic coffee machine over there. All you need is a coin and you’ll get your caffeine shot in no time. You know it’s not the real deal but sometimes you’ve got to roll with the punches that life throws at you, right?

And hey… you have enough coins to get a cappuccino. Your day keeps getting better (!) or is it? You’ve just spent the only coins you have and this cappuccino is not as hot as the one that Kelly the stunning barista at your local café prepares for you every morning; with extra cinnamon on top.

What’s going on here? Hmmm? There is a phone number on the machine. Should you call and demand your money back? Should you at least inform them that this automatic machine needs a bit of an adjustment?
Don’t bother. Why? Because these machines are never going to prepare your drinks as hot as your hot barista; it’s a law suit waiting to happen for crying out loud!

The fact is that milk tends to keep getting hotter for a while even after the heating process has stopped. A professional can keep it under control by using a thermometer or checking it by his/her hand but a machine that a customer who has no training in such matters at all is allowed to fiddle with may burn him/herself. The only way to make sure that wouldn’t happen is to keep the heat at a safer degree so that even if milk keeps heating up it doesn’t reach to the point that it’s a threat.



So, you’re planning to get into café business. Well who doesn’t? Pardon my lack of enthusiasm that’s due to my years of experience in this field. I love coffee to bits I love everything about it that includes the business side of it but…

I see too many people with zero experience dreaming of opening their own little café; just like the ones they’ve seen on their favorite TV show where there is an easy going, stress free owner and his/her adorable customers dwell in a lovely small and quiet space made of love and understanding (!)

It does look good on the screen but in real life such a place wouldn’t last a few months. You need either tons of customers or very high prices that don’t bother the few that do stick around. Third and the most ideal scenario would be to meet in the middle and find that balance.

Whatever way you choose to follow, it will mean a lot of work; especially for the entrepreneur himself/herself. You may have just finished school or just got fired after enduring years of rat race in a boring firm thinking “how hard can it be to open a café and run it?”

All I’m saying is get familiar with the field before you jump into it; get a temporary job as a waiter or a cook at a café. Test the water. If it’s what you thought it was and you really enjoy the intense flow of it, go for it! Good luck.



That’s what you’re going to hear when you tell an experienced business person that you’re planning to open a café or a restaurant or whatever kind of store.

This is a tricky subject because sometimes seemingly perfect places may end up being a fatal mistake for your business. A very busy street with lots of potential customers may be the worst place for your café. It’s not always clear why that’s the case.

Sometimes on a street where cloth stores write success history a shoe store may go bankrupt. Another street which is perfect for hardware stores may be the last thing where people want to stick around and have a bite.

What you should do is go and ask the business owners around for their honest opinion; see if there is too much competition for you in that particular area and see if they manage. Are they happy to be located there? Sometimes a street may be full of restaurants and cafés but they could all be doing quite well despite the competition. Visit those places as a customer or just hang around at lunch time or in the early evening when people drop by after work and before they go home.

Also, ask around what kind of businesses had been started and how long they lasted in that particular space you’re planning to rent and start a business. If two or more businesses similar to yours had opened and closed on the same spot, leave it at that; don’t go further unless you love taking huge risks and you have an incredible idea that’s going to revolutionize the business as we know it (!) as Starbucks.

Speaking of Starbucks, do not be fooled by the success of big brands either. Because their name is already built; they may open a store in your mom’s garage and make it work whereas if you tried it on that very spot, even your mom may quit visiting.

Don’t be shy; do your inquiry well and don’t ignore the signs just because you happen to like the particular area so much. You can always come back to hang out there but that doesn’t mean it’s worth losing your savings over it.
Good luck.



You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law right? Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Man… Nothing else could define café business better!

I’ve worked in cafés for more than a decade and the things I’ve seen and the problems I had to face are the kind of things that I couldn’t even come up with if I tried. And any time I thought I ‘that’s it I’ve seen everything I could see in this business’ something new and twisted showed up; be it customers complaining something about something that had nothing to do with the café itself to machines choosing the perfect (!) moments to let us down.

As an entrepreneur you are the first person that everybody is going to blame; your customers, your workers, you name it. It’s all your fault and nobody wants to hear explanations and excuses. “I don’t want to hear it! Fix it and give me my meal”; “I don’t want to hear it! Fix it and pay my salary”; “I don’t want to hear it! Fix it and make our oven work again”, etc.

If you’re just a worker it may be annoying to listen to a customer yak about something for a few minutes but as soon as your shift is over it’s “sayanora suckers!”. When you’re the owner however, your reputation is on the line. If you’re not careful only a few seemingly small complaints may kill your business especially in this internet age where everybody is dying to bitch about something on platforms that make it way too easy for them to have a field day. On one hand of course it’s a good idea to keep businesses like restaurants and cafés that may have an influence on our health on their toes, but on the other hand there are too many idiots out there who don’t know what they’re talking about like the ones who would go to an Indian restaurant and complain that the food was too spicey, for example.

Be prepared; check your system and make sure that everything is on the up and up but be prepared psychologically to face the unexpected when it shows up because it will. But that’s part of the fun; it really is; you’ll know when you face it. Good luck