Excuse me, do I work here?

New Zealanders love a good DIY ( Do It Yourself ) attitude – build your own fence, concrete your own driveway…but Finns bring it into the everyday as at most cafes you’ll find it’s DIY dishes.

You don’t actually have to wash them but there’s usually a place for you to scrape your dishes, stack them and sort the rubbish from the recycling.


Having grown up with school lunches provided I’d say most Finnish adults are used to this and probably do it without thinking.

It’s great actually – it means the tables are cleared before you sit down, even when the staff are busy.

Used dishes stand & bin at Fafa's

Used dishes stand & rubbish bin at Fafa’s

At Cafe Regatta there are a couple of places for customers to stack their used dishes. You can also have free coffee refills and you get 5c back each time you refill your cup….*

So if times were tough and you were really desperate, you’d probably only have to drink 45 cups of coffee before you started to make your money back and started getting paid to stack that one dirty cup.


Cafe Regatta

 *the beauty of this is no one wants a 5c piece in their wallet so they tend to go straight into the tips jar

Cafe Regatta


Cafe Regatta is just north of the city of Helsinki but a world away from our apartment in the Design District.

Situated on the water’s edge the first thing we noticed as we approached was the smell of the wood fire pit outside. Sausages are for sale at the cafe that you can grill while you sit on the reindeer-pelt covered seats.



Smouldering good coffee

We opted instead for a cup of kahvi (coffee) and some beautiful homemade pastries. I had a jam filled doughnut and Jonny had a soft cinnamon roll with cardamom in it. It was so good we shared another with a second cup of coffee.

Although only set to reach a high of 14 degrees, the sun was warm and there were signs of spring everywhere.


Despite appearances, we were so close to the city that we walked home. Not a bad idea after that second round of pastries.