In November 1981, inspired by the book café culture in Berlin, Copenhagen and a few cities in the neighbouring Sweden, a group of young left-wing and anarchist student radicals opened their own book café in Turku, Finland. Their desire was to import interesting pamphlets and critical academic literature to Finland, and to create a grassroots meeting place and a scene for dialogue in Turku. Fed up with the party political climate of the 1970s university and other institutions, they wanted to break free from all factions, including their own.
The location of the café has changed a couple of times, as well as the people running the place, but what stays the same is the desire to provide an alternative, whatever this might mean. Currently it encompasses, for instance, distributing zines and books from small publishers, stirring up conversation and organising debates on interesting topics, importing coffee directly from Zapatista co-operatives in Chiapas, and being the only fully vegan café in Finland. Thus, the core remains the same; coffee, books, and discussion. Another original idea still strongly at work here is the desire to be uncommercial; no fee is required for a glass of water or the use of toilets, and, aside from a couple of big summer festivals in the yard, all our events are free of charge.
After three decades of varying activities and a few generation changes, the Book Café – or Kirjakahvila in Finnish – remains a volunteer-run co-operative. Today it resides in the historical centre of the Old Turku, at Brinkkala Inner Court, but the everyday programme is as diverse as the people who currently run the place. Within the walls of the Book Café you can participate in reading circles and book club meetings, listen to interesting lectures and (mostly) local bands, party in uncommercial queer clubs, watch documentaries and other films - and, of course, organize all these things and so much more yourself!
Opening hours, renting and catering
The café is open on weekdays 11-19, and on our Sunday brunches 11-14. Friday nights are dedicated to live music, usually from 19 to 22. (NB! No regular brunches or music nights during summer.) Besides Fridays, the café is often open later on weekdays – and occasionally on Saturdays as well – due to various events ranging from discussions to film screenings (see our calendar).
It is also possible to rent the space for private occasions. The rent is 30€/hour on weekdays before 22, and 50€/hour after 22 and on weekends. Please note that private occasions held at Kirjakahvila are subject to same regulations as those held in other restaurants licensed to serve alcohol – i.e. you can’t bring in your own alcohol!
We can also provide (vegan) catering for your own occasions.
If you wish to rent the space, contact the secretary of the cooperative Karel Keiramo, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For inquiries concerning catering in the Book Café and beyond, contact the café manager Kaisa Sarapisto via email, tilauskahvitukset (a) kirjakahvila.org, or, on weekdays 9-11, by phone, 02-469 1396.
In 2013, the board of the Book Café consists of: Arska Sipilä, Elina Sutela, Emma Vartiainen, Hannu Seppälä, Jari Pohjonen (chair, O44 284 7329), Linda Ojanen, Minna Kantonen, Omar Badawieh, Oskari Pekonen, Riina Paimen, and Saara Avola.
All Kirjakahvila volunteers can be best contacted via email, email@example.com (without umlauts).
Cooperative: the secretary of the cooperative Karel Keiramo, O44 O87 O125
Karel can tell you generally about the Book Café activities and cultural events, renting the space, administration, finances, etc.
Volunteering: If you want to volunteer at the Book Café, contact paivystajavastaava (a) kirjakahvila.org.
Café: the café manager Kaisa Sarapisto
Kaisa is our baker and is in charge of the cafeteria products and catering services.
Bookshop: the bookshop team, kirjala (a) kirjakahvila.org.
Gallery: the gallery team, galleria (a) kirjakahvila.org
The gallery team is in charge of choosing the exhibitions, advertising them, and putting up the exhibition with the artist(s).
Music: Small-scale live music events are held every Friday (except in summertime), occasionally on other nights as well. Due to our uncommercial stance, all events held at the Book Café are free of charge, so we can’t pay gig fees to the performers. Non-local artists can be offered a maximum of 50€/event for travelling costs. If you still want to perform at the Book Café, contact the Music Friday team, musaperjantai (a) kirjakahvila.org, preferably with links to your band page or music.
Brinkkala Inner Court, Vanha Suurtori 3, 20500 Turku
See the map!
At Facebook: www.facebook.com/kirjakahvila