coffee drinking around the world

Coffee Drinking Around the World

Coffee has become an important cultural phenomenon. The habits, customs, and manner in which it is consumed vary widely depending on the country in question. Let’s take a look at how coffee is consumed around the world.

North America

The US, in particular, has become the land of “to go” with all aspects of food, and especially coffee. Starbucks became a national phenomenon in the 1990’s and brought the rise of espresso drinks to the general public. Most major cities have corner coffee shops that serve as places to meet, work, or buy a coffee to be consumed at the office or on the go.

Americans and Canadians tend to drink their coffee mostly in the mornings, and not during meals. Americans have more of a tendency to drink coffee in between meals than other nationalities. These habits are in contrast to other areas, where coffee is very much part of meal time and is consumed throughout the day.


European countries are very connected to coffee culture, and especially espresso. Strong, dark coffee is the norm for many in Europe. You can’t put all Europeans into one category, though, as their tastes are as diverse as their many languages.

Finns top the list with their more than 10 cups per day average as the highest consumers in the world. They prefer a light roast with a little milk and no sugar. Part of the reason may be that the cold weather is very conducive to a warm cup of coffee. The modern-day habit could also be linked to the prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century after the independence of the Russian Empire. Coffee became the drink of choice when alcohol was not available.

These days, coffee is very much a part of Finnish social life. Many Finns have their coffee with a bit of cake, and there is a word for the combination, called “kakkukahvi.” Workers have a standard 10-minute coffee break twice a day, too.

Most Finns have their coffee at home, although the younger generation is more likely to meet at coffee shops in the cities. The other Scandinavian countries also rate as high-consumption coffee drinkers.

France only rates one place higher than the US in terms of coffee drinking, at number 21 according to Caffeine Informer and Euromonitor data. The French tend to have their coffee in the morning, and then at the end of a meal. Most French like to have a café (espresso) with sugar. Those who have a French press (cafetière) or a drip-coffee style brewer like to drink their coffee out of a small bowl instead of a mug with handle. You won’t find any “to go” cups in France, except at the rare Starbucks in larger cities such as Paris. The French expect you to sit and savor your cup after a meal or at breakfast.

Words like cappuccino, macchiato, and espresso are all part of the everyday language of most English-speakers due to the prevalence of coffee shops adapting the Italian lingo. However, ordering a macchiato in Italy will be very different to your usual caramel sugary milky mix from other parts of the world.

In Italy, the macchiato is a shot of espresso with a “mark” of foam on the top. Most Italians have a cappuccino with a pastry at breakfast, or an espresso, simply caffé. It is not unusual for an Italian to have several caffés throughout the day, but most will not have a cappuccino past lunchtime.

Many Italians have a stovetop espresso contraption called the Moka Express in their homes to make a small, strong coffee. This invention is most common in Europe, especially in Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, and Latin America.

Moka pot stovetop espresso coffee

Latin America

In many Latin American countries, coffee is roasted on a stovetop or oven and then brewed on the stovetop as well. Families pass down their recipes from generation to generation. And most coffee here is consumed in the home.

The Colombian tinto drink is made with a mixture of coffee grounds and water in one pot, and unrefined sugar cane and water in another pot. The two mixtures are combined to make a sweet coffee drink.

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In Ethiopia, the tradition of coffee making is steeped in over 1,000 years of tradition. The coffee is called buna, and made in front of you while you wait. The beans are toasted, boiled, and then ground before serving. Sometimes sugar is added, or salt or butter. This is actually a coffee ceremony, performed by the matron of the home for guests.

This is just a sample of the cultures around the world that consume coffee. For many countries, coffee has become a very lucrative cash crop exported all over the world. We hope that you may now be inspired to try a different version of one of your favorite drinks.

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Article By : Bret Colman, Director of Coffee / Head Roaster, Cafe Altura Organic Coffee

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