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Coffee Sips

Coffee culture

Published on 18 July 17

The coffee tradition is deeply rooted throughout the world, even though there are different methods of preparation.

FROM NORTH TO SOUTH: EUROPE AND ITS MULTIFACETED COFFEE CULTURE

Northern Europeans are accustomed to drinking large amounts of coffee, although in a somewhat diluted form. The Finns boast the highest consumption of coffee per capita, with a preference for lightly roasted blends.

 

In central Europe, for example in Germany, Austria and Holland, a medium roast is preferred.

 

The French, Spanish and Italians like a dark roast, and surprisingly drink less coffee than the Scandinavians.

No matter how and where: all over the world, coffee unites people and promotes socialization.

BEYOND TEA TIME: THE BRITISH AND COFFEE

Even in Britain, there is a long coffee tradition; here, in the mid-17th century, the first coffee houses opened, but tea was also served. Initially, tea was very expensive and a prerogative of the wealthy upper-classes. Only towards the end of the 18th century, with the lowering of taxes, did tea become accessible even to the middle and working classes.

Still today, tea is favored over coffee in Britain, honored in the tradition of afternoon tea (“Tea Time”). This probably stems from the fact that the royal family has always demonstrated a particular predilection for tea. But apparently, even in Britain things are changing.

An article in the London Evening Standard newspaper dated June 28, 2012 cited a study according to which 45% of the British would attribute a higher social status to coffee than to tea. 70% of the higher-income respondents claimed to prefer coffee.

Nonetheless, in Great Britain, coffee still has a long way to go; the British consume 2.3 kg of coffee per capita, per year. Just over one-third of the consumption per capita in Germany.

 

 

WITH TASTE: THE CULTURE OF ITALIAN COFFEE

Italy is the coffee country par excellence; here the espresso is almost sacred. If you simply order a “coffee” in Italy, you will be served an espresso.

 

Espresso is drunk throughout the day, in a few seconds as a short break, usually at the counter of the bar.

 

Real espresso, in fact, is drunk in two or three sips. Those who need more caffeine will order a “double coffee,” i.e. a double espresso. In Italy, cappuccino is traditionally only had at breakfast, usually accompanied by a pastry, for example a croissant. The milk contained in the cappuccino is considered to be part of the meal, hence its consumption is avoided during the rest of the day because it is too filling.

 

Italians prefer espresso at lunch, dinner or even late at night. To satisfy their love of coffee, Italians consume, on average, about 5.6 kg per capita, per year.

 

 

COFFEE CULTURE IN GERMANY

Germans also have a very intense relationship with coffee, although German coffee culture is not as strong as it is in Italy. Everyone drinks coffee the way they like it, at any time of the day, strong or weak, with or without sugar or milk, at a vending machine or made by a modern espresso maker.

 

In one year, Germans drink approximately 6.7 kg of coffee per capita: 160 liters per year, i.e. about four cups per day. Since the first coffee machines appeared on the market in 2001, coffee prepared with single-serving portions has also conquered Germany. Since then, in the office as well as at home, many have switched to capsule or pod espresso machines, which prepare excellent, fresh coffee that can satisfy any palate.


THE DUTCH AND THE “KOFFIETIJD”

In the Netherlands, the levels of coffee consumption match those of Germany: about 6 kg per capita, per year. During the day, the Dutch drink a great deal of coffee: in the morning for a good start to the day, between 10:00 and 11:00 for the “koffietijd” (“coffee break”), during the day to give themselves a boost, as well as for social moments at work. In the evening, after dinner, the Dutch often drink an American-style coffee.

 

From time to time, they treat themselves to a latte or a latte macchiato, which in Holland is called “koffie verkeerd,” or “upside down coffee,” which describes its composition: instead of coffee with a drop of milk, it is milk with a dash of coffee. This drink is served in fairly small glasses, and is entirely different from the cups of French café au lait.

 

 

CAFÉ AU LAIT SEASONED WITH THE FRENCH ‘SAVOIR VIVRE’

No other country is as well-known as France for its “savoir vivre,” the art of living which, added to their passion for coffee, is an important feature of their national culture. With an annual per capita consumption of 5.6 kg of coffee, the country of love and the Eiffel Tower is positioned in the mid-range of the coffee consumption comparison between the Old and the New Continent.

 

Coffee is mainly enjoyed at home, prepared with coffee machines or the French Press (plunger coffee maker), an all-French invention dating back to 1900.

 

Despite the preference for a more intimate consumption, coffee bars are still well frequented and have a long tradition in France, as well. Typically, a café au lait will be drunk here, accompanied by a croissant or with “French toast”: toast covered with a few spoonfuls of jam. The French café au lait is half very hot and intense filter coffee (or double espresso), and half milk, often frothy. The perfect café au lait is made by pouring the milk and coffee into a thick bowl, known as a “Bol,” at the same time.

 

During the day, the French love to delight their palates with an espresso (“petit noir”) or a black coffee (“café noir”) sometimes diluted with water, known as a “long” coffee.

 

Often, black coffee with added Cognac is ordered after dinner. A Café Granit, a sweet and intense coffee with Moka liqueur, is another popular alternative.

Today, the coffee break is a ritual that unites Europe and America.

USA – FROM “FREE REFILLS” TO FINE COFFEE BLENDS

Americans love coffee. From restaurants to bagel shops, you can have your cup refilled with a just a nod of the head.

 

The vast American cities feature more coffee houses than anywhere else in the world. They offer a rich selection of coffees: with milk, cold coffee, cappuccino, with vanilla, and more flavors than one would ever be able to imagine.

 

In spite of this, the annual coffee consumption per capita is very low: about 4 kg lower than the average in countries on the other side of the Atlantic.

 

A possible explanation may be that Americans do not devote much time to breakfast, or because they tend to prefer quality to quantity.

 

More and more coffee bars, in fact, pamper their customers with fine blends. Added to this is the home consumption of single-serving coffees and the extraordinary increase in purchases of capsule or pod coffee machines in recent years.

 

In America as in Italy, drinking coffee has become a very pleasant and indispensable everyday habit.

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