What’s so unique about kaffemik?

By Verified Expert

Kaffemik is a Greenlandic word and means “via coffee”. It’s a gathering for anything from birthday parties to funerals. At first, I thought a kaffemik is like any other get-togethers in the world, but there is actually something that makes it unique from other gatherings.

Cheese and cake at kaffemik

Kaffemik in the old days

Back in the day, the houses in Greenland were very small. So when there was a gathering, the host would tell the guests when the house is open and they would come to all different times throughout the day. 

The natural thought for me is to come when the gathering starts, and stay there till the end. But there is a reason for why they solved it that way; almost the whole village could come to visit in one day to pay their respect, and the small houses couldn’t fit everyone at once.

It’s not that normal to invite a whole village for a Kaffemik anymore, but some smaller settlements still do that. Now it’s more usual to invite just friends and family through social media, but the concept of kaffemik where people come and go is still the same today.

Different food at kaffemik

When you arrive you eat cake and drink coffee. Some also serve wine and food as well. If it’s full by the table when arriving at the kaffemik, it’s usual to be polite and stand up to make room for the new guests to sit down and have a coffee.

It’s also normal to take off your own plate and put it by the sink when finished. If you want to be extra polite, you can wash the cups for the host as well. As you may understand, it can be quite a lot of dishes during a kaffemik.

people gathered around the table

It is “hard work” to try all the cakes and good food at a Kaffemik. Here I do my best (at the right). Even if people do not know who you are, everyone is very friendly in Greenland.

A classic kaffemik

I’ve had the opportunity to join a few kaffemik myself while staying in Greenland, and it’s interesting to observe; new people arrive all the time, and sometimes there is almost no one there and suddenly it’s crowded!

When joining the kaffemik on a national day, I got to taste some traditional bites from Greenland.

fish on stones as a kaffemik tradition

They served the fish on the stones on the beach after cooking it to make it extra salt. This is a really authentic way to serve the fish.


What you see here is mattak – also known as whale skin.

reindeer and musk ox

This is reindeer and musk ox meat cooked on the stone.

I also joined some Kaffemiks celebrating students graduating.

kaffemik celebration after graduation

This cute girl just graduated!

Greenlandic cake at kaffemik

Some kaffemik is more traditional with the whale, musk ox meat, and Greenlandic cake. Others are more modern with sushi and chocolate cake.

But what all the kaffemiks have in common is that people come and go, and aren’t like normal gatherings where everyone stays there the whole day. I think it seems very practical, because then you don’t need to rent a big room if you plan to have a big gathering with a lot of guests.

strawberry cake and other cakes

Do you want to experience a kaffemik? Click here to see our kaffemik tours.

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