The sacred union of coffee and donuts

Before giving into the iconic Original donuts by Arnolds, let’s first cast a glance into the history of donuts.

The first mention of a donut can be found from an English cookbook from 1803. The pastry adopted its circular shape in the United States, but originally it hails from Denmark from where the recipe crossed the Atlantic with the first immigrants. Glazed donuts entered the lives of Finns from American detective television series in which especially cops with a sweet tooth were seen enjoying them.

Jussi Laurila saw the potential of the impeccable union of coffee and a donut during his year as an exchange student in the United States, and Arnolds, Finland’s first café chain focused on donuts, saw the light of day in Turku in 1991.

Few companies can say that they started out this sweet: Laurila travelled around the world, tasting donuts and developing his own recipe. Now, 27 years later, Laurila runs a chain based on the cafés operated by independent franchisees from Helsinki to Oulu.

REDI, too, will have its own sweet spot next autumn.

Donuts complemented by savoury snacks

Finns’ long-time favourite is the caramel-flavoured Kinuski Original donut. The traditional donut with a soft caramel icing, stripes of dark chocolate and sprinkles is Arnolds’ most popular donut of all time.
“A donut every now and then is not a sin,” believes Laurila who knows that people have grown more aware of what they put in their mouths.

Along the years, Arnolds has expanded its product offering into bagels, salads, smoothies and porridge breakfast that is currently being piloted in some cafés. The porridge is cooked with full-fat milk, as Laurila says the chain never compromises on taste.

“Our customer proposition is to offer delicious moments in the hectic everyday life. For us, the taste and quality of the products is everything, we are even a little fanatic about them,” he admits.

Details have been honed to perfection: Arnolds uses high-quality Belgian chocolate for its chocolate icing, the special roast of coffee beans have been designed to complement the taste experience and fresh products are made to order, among other things. Glazing and decorating the donuts is detailed manual labour. New cafés have paid even more attention to comfortable surroundings and decor, and they invite customers to take a breather among their busy shopping days.

Arnolds’ recipes are developed by Chef Petteri Luoto who is a familiar name in fine dining circles. He has worked in top restaurants in Helsinki, for instance Savoy, Palace Gourmet and Kämp. “Luoto knows how to combine savoury and sweet, soft and crunchy, and exactly in the right proportion,” compliments Laurila.

The United States is not number one in donut consumption

Arnolds sells millions of donuts in Finland every year. The business is booming especially on Fridays and Saturdays, and the take away six and twelve packs are often the stars of parties in addition to being enjoyed at home with a cup of joe.

However, Finns are still behind the leading donut-eating nation of the world, which, surprisingly, is Spain in relation to the population. In the promised land of churros, or deep-fried pastries, donuts and other sweets are enjoyed already at breakfast.

According to Laurila, we Finns are an exceptional people in that we don’t like to eat sweet food first thing in the morning, and not too much at lunchtime either.

“Before noon, people buy fresh and savoury things, such as toast, croissants and porridge. At lunchtime, our best sellers are filling toasted bagels with different toppings made to order.”

The Japanese have also proved to have a hankering for donuts. Arnolds opened its first café and bakery in Tokyo in 2013, and it has become a huge hit promoting its Finnishness that is popular in Japan and run by a local celebrity. Next, Laurila is heading to Sweden.

The builder of Finnish donut culture has a simple recipe for taking over the world: “Our products are of better quality than those of our competitors.”

Why did you choose REDI?

“I don’t know many shops that wouldn’t want to be in REDI. This is an exceptional shopping centre project in a top location.” – Jussi Laurila

Photograph: Arnolds
The history of donuts: The Origin of Doughnut, Wikipedia