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Cheese in Coffee? A Strangely Delicious Scandinavian Drink

Kaffeost

Before you recoil in horror, let us explain. It may sound like putting cheese in coffee is a prank you would play on an unsuspecting friend, but in Finland, it’s a delicious treat called kaffeost. We tried kaffeost and enthusiastically recommend it if you’re looking for a novel yet tasty snack. In this article, we’ll teach you all about kaffeost, what it is, and how to make it. We promise this isn’t a practical joke, and you’ll be missing out if you write kaffeost off without giving it a shot.

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What is Kaffeost?

Kaffeost is a combination of hot coffee and a particular type of cheese called leipäjuusto in Finnish, which loosely translates to “bread cheese” in English. Don’t let the name fool you; bread cheese is 100% cheese and 0% bread. The name comes from the cheese’s absorbent quality that readily soaks up liquid, like coffee, perhaps. You might also hear this cheese whimsically called “Finnish squeaky cheese” in reference to the slight squeaking you can hear as you chew it.

Finnish squeaky cheese – sorry, we couldn’t resist – is traditionally made from reindeer milk, but, depending on where you live, reindeer milk cheese might be hard to come by. Luckily, several brands make cow’s milk bread cheese, and these are much easier to find.

Bread cheese tastes pretty good on its own and is lighter and sweeter than a standard block of cheddar, for example. The sweetness is essential and, in our opinion, what makes kaffeost taste great rather than like an accident. Cheese is made from milk, so adding sweet cheese to coffee is surprisingly similar to making a cup with milk and sugar.

kaffeost
Image Credit: StockphotoVideo, Shutterstock

How to Prepare Kaffeost

There isn’t much to making kaffeost. It’s basically just adding the appropriate cheese to your coffee. We were advised to let the cheese soak for a few minutes in the coffee and then fish out the slices and eat them separately.

The absorptive nature of bread cheese means it takes on a surprising amount of coffee flavor after soaking for only a few minutes. Eating wet cheese was a new experience for us, and we didn’t love the texture, but the taste was superb! The cheese borrowed the roasty flavors of the coffee and almost tasted like it had been smoked.

The coffee also wasn’t bad, but we weren’t as thrilled with the flavor. It was slightly sweeter and had an earthy flavor that wasn’t bad but also didn’t impress us as much as the cheese did. Overall, it was a good experience, and we don’t regret trying kaffeost.

Kaffeost
Image Credit: bonchan, Shutterstock

What About Other Cheeses?

If you can’t find bread cheese in your local supermarket, you might be tempted to try an alternative cheese. We only tried kaffeost with the appropriate Finnish squeaky cheese, so we’re not speaking from experience here, but we have a few guidelines to keep in mind that we think are essential for getting the best kaffeost experience.

The most important element to consider when selecting a substitute cheese is sweetness. We think the tastiness of kaffeost is entirely determined by how sweet the cheese you use is. Our coffee wasn’t the highlight, but it was more than drinkable, and we attribute this to the light sweetness imparted by the bread cheese.

Almost as important as the sweetness is how absorptive the cheese is. We quite enjoyed the coffee-soaked slices, and you won’t get the same level of flavor-mingling if you pick a hard, non-porous cheese. Select a soft cheese that will absorb the coffee’s flavors well if you want as close to an authentic experience as you can get without actually using leipäjuusto.

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Conclusion

It’s not every day that you run into an idea that stops you in your tracks quite the way that adding cheese to coffee does. When we first heard about kaffeost, we checked the article’s date to make sure it wasn’t published on April 1st. Jokes aside, we were pleasantly surprised at how good cheese in coffee can be and would absolutely make it again.

If you want to try kaffeost for yourself, poke around your local markets and try to get authentic bread cheese. If you can’t find real Finnish squeaky cheese, look for a soft, sweet cheese that will readily absorb coffee. If you try it and like it, be prepared for your friend’s incredulous looks as you try to explain to them what kaffeost is and maybe take a video or two to capture their priceless reactions.

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Featured Image: bonchan, Shutterstock

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Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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