Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Estonia

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Welcome expatriates to the rich tapestry of coffee culture in Estonia! As an expat, moving to a new country comes with both excitement and uncertainty. An essential part of settling into a new community is immersing yourself in its unique traditions and customs. Here, we aim to provide insights and recommendations for navigating the local coffee scene in Estonia.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Coffee production in Estonia is predominantly local, with the majority of beans grown in the country’s southern region. Estonia actually has a long history of coffee production, dating back to the 17th century when coffee was first introduced to the region. The country's unique climate, characterized by long, cold winters and short, warm summers, provides ideal growing conditions for coffee beans. The Estonian climate allows for an extended growing season that enables coffee beans to reach full maturity.

While locally grown beans offer an authentic taste experience, you may also find imported varieties at coffee shops and cafes in Estonia. Regardless of your preference, embracing locally grown beans can provide a deeper, more nuanced coffee experience that reflects the unique flavors and aromas of Estonia's coffee culture.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Estonia's coffee culture is known for its diverse array of coffee style drinks that reflect local tastes and preferences. While espresso, cappuccino, and latte are certainly present in coffee menus across Estonia, you may also find unique coffee experiences that reflect true Estonian flavors.

For instance, the Tallinn Windmill Coffee is a popular local coffee drink that is made by mixing espresso, a shot of sugar syrup, and steamed milk. This produces a rich, frothy coffee with a sweet, caramelized flavor that reflects Tallinn's historic past and local manufacturing history.

Another popular local coffee drink is the Kohuväär, which is similar to a cappuccino, but with the addition of condensed milk. The condensed milk is said to reflect Estonia's history, as it was a ration during the Soviet occupation. This coffee is a delicious treat that reflects both the unique history and flavors of Estonia.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee is deeply integrated into Estonian society and culture, and can bring people together in social settings. Whether meeting new friends, discussing business opportunities, or enjoying time with family, coffee is a social and cultural mainstay in Estonia.

Local coffee culture is also characterized by a unique set of customs and traditions, each with their own significance and importance. Here are a few examples:

The concept of 'coffee culture': Coffee culture is a term that encompasses the social phenomenon that surrounds coffee consumption. Coffee culture is not just about enjoying a cup of coffee, but also the social aspects that accompany it. In Estonia, coffee culture is categorized by its emphasis on hospitality, generosity, and sharing. Coffee is often served with sweets, such as cinnamon rolls or cake, and friends and family gather to enjoy coffee, connect, and share stories.

'The Size Matters': While espressos and lattes are certainly popular all over the world, 'the size matters' phenomenon is less common elsewhere. In Estonia, the traditional coffee size is quite large, comprising three regular cups of coffee, and is served with a priority treat such as cinnamon rolls.

Coffee Rituals: There are unique coffee rituals that are an integral part of Estonian coffee culture. One such tradition is the ritual of roasting coffee beans, which is still carried out using traditional methods on open wood fires. This ritual invites the observer into the cultural experience, heightening appreciation for the freshly roasted beans.

E expat-friendly coffee shops, cafes, and cultural experiences

We recommend a few expat-friendly coffee shops, cafes, and cultural experiences for you to check out during your time in Estonia:

  • TomTam Coffee Roasters: This popular cafe in the Stari Sad neighborhood of Tallinn offers locally grown coffee blends and traditional Estonian treats.
  • Vanamäe: Located in the historical center of Tallinn, Vanamäe is a cozy coffee house famous for its rich coffee and pastries.
  • The Windmill Coffee House: As mentioned previously, this quaint and welcoming cafe in Tallinn offers the world-famous Tallinn Windmill Coffee.
  • Estonian Foodie Tour: This guided walking tour of Tallinn offers an opportunity to sample traditional Estonian cuisine, including coffee.


Estonia’s unique coffee culture is both inviting and meaningful, offering expats a chance to immerse themselves in local traditions and customs. By understanding coffee origins, embracing favorite coffee style drinks, and respecting coffee drinking traditions, expats have the opportunity to connect on a local level and integrate seamlessly into the community. We hope our guide has provided valuable insights and recommendations to get you started. Whether you prefer traditional coffee experiences, unique blends, or specific coffee styles, there is something for everyone in Estonia. Enjoy your coffee journey, and welcome to the Estonian community!