This week the backstory of my post is deeper than just sharing my favourite places. I’m still sharing some of my favourite places, but all of these places have an important connection. This week, I will share cafes in Helsinki which contribute to good causes. This contribution can be in the form of donations to charities that the owners are passionate about, or a philosophy that they weave into their business model. All of these cafes show in some way that they value much more than just personal profit.
The inspiration for this post comes from a very important event that I participated in recently. On 24th March, there were hundreds of March For Our Lives protests held around the world. As you likely know, March For Our Lives is a movement for gun reform in the United States. A Sustainable Community organised a protest in Helsinki on the 24th. We marched in solidarity with the hundreds of other protests happening around the world. Helsinki might be thousands of kilometres from the United States, but we hope that every little bit of support helps bolster the efforts of the movement.
I haven’t often touched on events like this on this blog, but travel blogs are actually the perfect place to discuss human rights. Travel is a brilliant antidote to prejudice and bigotry. Exposure to other cultures helps you shed your preconceptions about them. This idea is wonderfully touched upon in Museuly’s Top 10 Reasons to Travel More in 2018.
Participating in the March For Our Lives was uplifting. After doing so, I was eager to highlight more ways in which people can support good causes in Helsinki. You don’t have to go to marches or attend events to help. Simply going to businesses which help a good cause is a wonderful way to give aid. Since cafe culture is thriving in Helsinki (and I’m such a huge fan of it!), I decided to explore cafes that fit this condition.
Address: Porthaninkatu 13, Helsinki
Ipi Kulmakuppila is a lovely and bright cafe in Kallio. It’s right next to Bear Park (Karhupuisto), a favourite of tourists to Helsinki. Bear Park has several cafes around it, including one which shares its name. But it’s worth it to drop into Ipi Kulmakuppila if you can. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch on weekdays and brunch on Saturdays. In addition to these offerings, there are many a la carte options. A chocolate cake with a rich, brownie-like texture was calling my name when I went. The cake, as I imagined, was lusciously rich and very full of flavour. The chocolatey-ness was offset nicely by a fresh strawberry that doubled as a natural decoration.
Ipi Kulmakuppila’s real brilliance is in their ethos, though. The company was founded in honour of Pekka “Ipi” Hämäläinen, a lifelong Helsinkian of many skills. Hämälainen was always supportive of his first grandchild, a boy who was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. This positive and supportive attitude has been extended towards Ipi Kulmkuppila’s staff, many of which have Down’s Syndrome and other developmental disabilities. The cafe gives them a support network and a place to build their life skills. The service here was wonderful, and everyone seemed very happy to be there!
Address: Kanavaranta 7, Helsinki
Sitting in the shadow of the tourist hotspot Uspenski Cathedral is a brick building. This building houses several restaurants and cafes, among them Goodio. The cafe is an extension of the local Goodio chocolate company, founded in 2015. The founders’ intention is to build a trustworthy and transparent food brand. Health and honesty are at the core of the business. Goodio’s founder and CCO Jukka Peltola is a huge advocate of the health benefits of raw cacao, which is used in Goodio’s chocolate. The company is committed to transparency in their production process. Goodio source their cacao from South American and African farms, then stone ground it in Helsinki for three days. After minimal processing, biodegradable wrappers finish off the chocolate bars.
I had to stop and take a photo the instant I walked into Goodio Cafe. The space is rustic and homey. The red bricks from outside remain visible in the walls. Houseplants are abundant and reed mats and macrame line the back of the room. I even discovered a piece of furniture that I could only describe as a swing bed. It wasn’t a hammock, it was literally a bed frame suspended in the air from the ceiling! I had to give it a try, although I made sure not to let it rock me right to sleep.
Address: Ehrenströmintie 3, Helsinki
If the only Ursula you’re familiar with is the sea witch from The Little Mermaid, you might be wary right about now. But don’t worry, this Ursula is 100% good!
Cafe Ursula is an old Helsinki institution which I’ve known for years. But up until recently, I haven’t known that charity was in their business plan since day 1. Cafe Ursula first opened in 1952, just in time for the summer Olympics in Helsinki that year. The founders were two Helsinkian women, Terttu Sainio and Anu Karvinen. The success of the cafe let it remain as a permanent fixture on Helsinki’s southern coast. The walk to the cafe from the tram stop “Kaivopuisto” is a gorgeous one, full of classic Jugend style architecture.
Today Cafe Ursula continues its charity work by helping mothers, children, and the elderly. Six institutions in the social work field own the cafe, and the owners use the cafe’s profits for their charity work. It is amazing to see an institution that has existed for over 60 years continuing to use its own success to help ensure the well being of others.
As always, I have to praise the cafe culture in Helsinki. Not only do these three businesses serve great food and drink, they also help make the world a better place. I’m eager to always do what I can to contribute to important causes. Sometimes that means participating in a worldwide movement such as the March For Our Lives, and sometimes it means having a slice of cake at a cafe which donates to charity. Every action, no matter how small, helps move the world in a kinder direction.