Ihana Kahvila ("Wonderful Cafe") is a coffee-shop/book-shop/think tank/community project run by the University of Helsinki as part of a city-wide project entitled " Designing Society Through Thinking".
We stopped by today as we strolled through the centre of the city, our noses turning red in the cold and hands burning a little despite the best efforts of our gloves. I sipped on a latte and NewMan ate a freshly composed salami sandwich on rye bread. Did you know that the Finnish drink more coffee per capita than any other nation? As a tea-drinking Brit I've fallen into their trap quite comfortably. Maybe there is something in the air that sparks a craving for coffee? Perhaps it's compulsory to keep you awake past the arrival of darkness which has occurred at approximately quarter to four in the afternoon all this week.
Downstairs in Ihana Kahvila I saw the above curtain hanging as the backdrop to a "break out" area which featured a black board covered in peoples' scribbles and a glass walled room where meetings and discussions could take place. Upstairs I bought a book and complimented the young shop staff on their place of work and their excellent English, which has been a regular feature of our time in Helsinki. Sadly Ihana Kahvila is only open until March 2013 so I feel fortunate to have found it during my brief stay.
It was a little more than I expected from a coffee shop where we'd sought refuge from the minus freezing temperatures but it was a welcome insight into one of many efforts that I sense give Helsinki and the people who call it home a real sense of style, purpose and soul.
Also, Helthinki? Genius.
Frances M. Thompson
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