Use local experts’ tips for Tallinn’s coffee scene

During the Soviet occupation, chicory was the most common hot drink available in Estonia. Not anymore. The coffee scene has blossomed in the past few years. Now Tallinn is home to dozens of cozy, Scandi-chic cafes dedicated to the art and science of brewing coffee.

The annual Tallinn Coffee Festival brings together thousands of coffee aficionados during the first weekend in September. Baristas compete in latte art and cupping competitions, and attendees can try coffee from all over the country. Visit Estonia interviewed Ave-Triin Uusküla, the barista from Surfcafe who won third place in the latte art competition. Read on for an expert’s take on the Estonian coffee scene!

Visit Estonia:  What got you into coffee?

Ave-Triin:  I started at Surfcafe four years ago. I was a regular, and then the owner asked me to come and work with them, so I did! Working with him, a coffee mastermind, and our amazing roaster from Shokunin [a roastery in the Netherlands – ed.] has been an experience that every barista would love to have.

Visit Estonia:  How did you prepare for the latte art competition?

Ave-Triin:  This year was my first time competing, so third place in latte art was a big surprise for me. My friend from Hetk Cafe has been teaching me to do latte art for years. My favorite pictures to pour are a bunny and a swan. After winning third place, everybody asks for special pictures, but it’s quite fun – I can practice more!

Visit Estonia:  What can visitors expect from Surfcafe?

Ave-Triin:  In Surfcafe you can expect the best. We have coffee beans from Shokunin, and we even do soft ice cream with real dairy cream. There is always a very chill, laid-back feeling.

Visit Estonia: Surfcafe is located at Balti Jaam market. What should visitors do or see nearby?

Ave-Triin:  We have many cool places nearby. Humalakoda is on the market’s second floor. They brew their own beer. The antique stores upstairs also feel like a museum. Telliskivi Creative City is near the market, and there you can find the Brick coffee roastery and my favorite gin distilleries, Metsis and Junimperium.

Visit Estonia:   How would you describe the coffee scene in Tallinn?

Ave-Triin:  Tallinn’s coffee scene has become very lively. We have small roasteries and cafes making specialty coffee on every corner, like Hetk, Fika, Kokomo, and Röst.

Visit Estonia:  Do you have any favorite cafes outside of Tallinn?

Ave-Triin:  I like Kodukohvik in Viljandi – their pastries are the best in the whole world! I also like Säde in Tartu and Sonne in Pärnu.

Visit Estonia: How do you like your coffee?

Ave-Triin:  Drinking my coffee is a sacred event for me. I usually have a pour-over made with African beans. The first coffee of the day is always after breakfast. I never eat and drink at the same time, to really taste the coffee.

In new coffee places, I get an espresso and some kind of African V60. If I like the coffee, I buy beans for Surfcafe, so the clients can try new things, too.

*The interview was edited for length and clarity.

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