Autumn is a beautiful season in Estonia. After striving to get the most out of a short northern summer, the arrival of autumn in Tallinn makes it guilt-free for us to spend quality time indoors, enjoying the little things to keep us happy (and sane) for the rest of the dark and cold season, Svetlana Štšur writes as she ranks Tallinn's cafes based on the preferences of expats.
Coffee drinking has become a global ritual uniting millions of people. For many, coffee is an inseparable part of the morning routine – the internet is flooded with memes and quotes about how difficult it is to face a new day without your morning dose of caffeine. Not to mention the immediately likable and heart-warming aesthetic of images where coffee drinking is depicted – it immediately rings a bell, doesn't it?
Many have noticed that coffee culture in Tallinn has been developing rapidly in the last 10 to 15 years. For a while there were just a couple of coffee chains, when suddenly, numerous conceptual cool coffee places and shops emerged all over the city, and the choice of the best coffee in town was not that simple anymore.
I conducted a social media survey in the "Expats in Tallinn/Estonia" Facebook group. Over 200 expats voted for their favorite coffee places in Tallinn.
I asked some of the expats to explain their choice of favorite coffee places, as well as to share a few more facts about their coffee drinking habit.
Below is the list of the best coffee places in Tallinn, according to expats. Enjoy!
Paper Mill Coffee
One-fifth of the poll participants voted for Paper Mill as their favorite place to have a coffee or buy coffee beans.
Chiara enjoys going to Paper Mill Coffee because, "the cappuccino there tastes really good with oat milk, the roast is very nice and does not have a sour note." She also appreciates the cafe's atmosphere and how friendly the baristas are. Chiara's favorite drink is cappuccino, and she habitually has two cups of coffee a day.
Mark likes Paper Mill for its closeness to his place. Mark often stops by their cafe in the Viru Keskus mall to grab a coffee. Mark values the good quality of Paper Mill's coffee and has nice memories of meeting new people in the cafe. At home, Mark drinks filter coffee up to two times a day.
Mo believes that Paper Mill's team is "nice and talented." He loves going to Paper Mill to get his favorite Batch Brew Ethiopian coffee. Mo also mentioned that in Paper Mill they also have a coffee card, which gives you a discount after several purchases. Mo has two cups of black coffee a day.
Victor is a big fan of the Paper Mill Coffee shop because of "the range of beans they offer and always have something different." Victor's favorite drink is V60 coffee (the name stems from the shape of the device – the coffee dripper) or ice latte. Victor drinks at least three or four cups of coffee a day.
Artem fell in love with Paper Mill's roasted coffee and their "commitment towards the sustainable coffee industry." Artem usually brews coffee in alternative ways like V60, Kalita or AeroPress but daily he is mostly committed to filter coffee. On average, Artem drinks around four cups a day (a few filters and the rest are espresso-based and without milk, like Americano).
Around 13 percent of the votes went to Fika Cafe.
Eugene appreciates Fika's coffee quality. Fika opening in his neighborhood was also a very pleasant development: "It is much more convenient to go a few blocks for a coffee rather than going to the city center to Paper Mill near the bus station." Normally, Eugene drinks flat coffee while out and makes chemex coffee at home two to three times a day. (Chemex is a pour-over method of coffee brewing, which means that the water passes through a bed of coffee and a filter, normally made from paper).
Jozo loves Fika because they use Paper Mill's coffee beans and give you a double espresso by default. Jozo's favorite drink is espresso but lately he has been into AeroPress coffee. He usually drinks coffee two times a day.
Connor enjoys Fika's atmosphere and also has a kind word to say about the friendly staff there (and the coffee is very good of course). Connor likes to drink flat white with oat milk. Connor has coffee quite rarely, between three and four times a week.
Rachel refers to Fika's coffee as "strong and excellent." Back at home, Rachel would drink long blacks or filter coffee from an AeroPress or V60. During her travels she tends to gravitate towards lattes because sometimes they can be a substitute for breakfast with some "extra caloric energy" in them. At home Rachel drinks a coffee a day (sometimes going for a double shot).
RØST Café comes third in the poll by losing a couple of votes to Fika.
Leonardo likes to go to RØST because, "the food is very good; they are friendly, and it is cheap." He added: "A good coffee place for me is not just about the coffee, but the overall context, like the friendliness of the attendants, the quality of the products and of course a good coffee. All of it makes a café an excellent place to enjoy your coffee." Leonardo loves lattes and drinks coffee three times a day.
Kokomo Coffee Roasters
Kokomo Coffee Roasters received around 8 percent of votes from Tallinn's expat community.
Melody admitted that she has several favorites among Tallinn's coffee places: "I prefer Papermill's ambiance, but I like the taste of Kokomo's roasts in general – so I buy their beans to brew at home." Melody usually goes for a simple latte and drinks coffee around three times a day (sometimes more but that is an exception).
Kristyna believes that at Kokomo "they have the best flat white coffee with oat milk. It's my Tallinn favorite." Kristyna found it is unfortunate that Kokomo is located "a bit off hand," away the city center. At home, Kristyna drinks black coffee (a cup a day until 2 pm or it results in sleeping issues), while in Kokomo, she goes for a flat white or espresso macchiato.
Gourmet Coffee Kadriorg
Gourmet Coffee Kadriorg and Caffeine each received around 5 percent of the votes from expats.
Luis values Gourmet Coffee's focus on quality. He noticed that their baristas are well trained and therefore "consistency of service and coffee drinks is pretty high during all seasons (summer is a mess across Estonian restaurants though)."
Yui lives relatively near the Gourmet Coffee Kadriorg and goes there because it is a "relatively quiet and not so crowded (place) in the morning at weekends" (and Yui loves spending her time at a quiet café on weekends). Yui normally drinks black coffee, (sometimes with milk but never with sugar) four to five times a day: "When I wake up, breakfast, late morning, after lunch, and afternoon around 3 p.m."
Teoman likes Caffeine because of its "environment that is suitable to take a seat and work with laptop whilst drinking their good quality drinks." Teoman drinks coffee three times a day but his favorite hot drink is Chai Latte.
Rachael's favorite is Caffeine's salted caramel macchiato as well as butterfly pea latte. She sometimes goes for their pastries as well. Lucy on Caffeine: "The coffee there is always good. They also have a large variety of fun drinks throughout the year." Rachel drinks coffee twice a day.
Omar likes Caffeine since "it offers a great place to study, meet and spend time." Caffeine's atmosphere has a modern vibe to it, which Omar finds attractive. Omar's favorite coffee drink is a latte with hazelnut and white chocolate syrup. He used to drink coffee twice or three times a day but now tries to limit for health reasons.
T35 Bakery & Specialty Coffee
T35 Bakery & Specialty Coffee received slightly over 4 percent of votes and comes in seventh in the Tallinn's best coffee places ranking.
"T35 Bakery & Specialty Coffee" is a cozy place in Kalamaja, away from the busy Telliskivi area. They have good coffee, and they don't charge extra for vegan milk. In addition, they also have great breakfast and pastries," Isabella said. Isabella's favorite coffee drink is an oat milk cappuccino, and she has about two or three coffees a day.
Dario appreciates "T35 Bakery & Specialty Coffee's" great interior design and the food, including high-protein vegetarian options like cheese omelet and shakshuka. Dario's favorite is Americano, and he drinks coffee one to three times a day.
The Brick Coffee Roastery and Karjase Sai
The Brick Coffee Roastery and Karjase Sai share the same number of votes and together occupy the eighth position.
Göckcen loves "The Brick Coffee Roastery" coffee's soft taste and amazing aroma. "My favorite is Americano, and I am trying to limit (coffee consumption) to one cup a day."
Mladlen voted for Karjase Sai for "the quality of the coffee first, then the tasty pastries and atmosphere." Mladlen's favorite coffee drink is cappuccino, and her coffee habit consist of one coffee a day.
Café Kiosk nr 1
Café Kiosk nr 1 came very close to The Brick Coffee Roastery and Karjase Sai and is in ninth place in the expat's preferences ranking.
Mert is a frequent visitor to Cafe Kiosk nr 1, mostly because of the overall positive vibe of the cafe. "It's a super small but very cozy place. During summer it's lovely to sit in their garden with friends and chill. The staff is always friendly and polite. They serve really good coffee and I often buy their coffee beans too. Also, it's a very dog-friendly place. And as a designer, I must give kudos to the fellow designer, who took care of their branding," Mert shared. Mert is committed to V60 filter coffee at home. At Kiosk nr 1 he generally goes for a caffe latte. As a rule, Mert drinks no more than two or three cups of coffee a day.
Liz finds Café Kiosk nr 1 "a very cozy place, especially on rainy days inside, or on the nice days outside on the terrace." Liz prefers cappuccino or caffe latte with a plant-based milk. Now Liz tries to stick to one cup of coffee a day.
Coffee In, Rohe Kohvik, Dot
Last but not least: Coffee In, Rohe Kohvik and Dot share the 10th position in the ranking.
Mathys has voted for "Coffee In" because they have quite an impressive coffee drinks menu, smoothies and ice creams. He has up to two coffees a day at home or at work, but he also goes to "Coffee In" around four times a week. Mathys enjoys going on road trips across Estonia, and on these days, he drinks more coffee than usual.
Cienna is rooting for Rohe Kohvik because their "menu is 100 percent vegan and everything is so colorful and full of flavor." "Their portions are big and prices very fair. Their atmosphere is very nice, and the staff is friendly!" Cienna added. Cienna's favorite coffee drink is a dirty chai latte (a regular cup of chai latte with a shot of espresso, and she drinks coffee one or two times per day.
Dot is Kim's favorite coffee place because of "the calm atmosphere," and it is conveniently located in her neighborhood. Kim also appreciates that Dot's menu is always displayed in English as well. Kim's favorite coffee drink is "a simple Americano." She drinks coffee in the morning and afternoon, around four cups altogether.
Tanya voted for Dot Cafe because it is important for her that the place is pet friendly. Tanya also noted that the staff is very nice and "the breakfast in Dot is both affordable and super good." Typically, Tanya has a filtered coffee at breakfast and lunch.
As you can see, there is more than just good coffee to a great coffee place.
Other beloved coffee places in Tallinn worth a mention:
- Kohvik hetk
- Epic Coffee
- La Boulangerie
- Katharinental Kadriorg
- Tallinn's Best Coffee
- Viardo Café Pirita
Editor: Marcus Turovski