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From coffee to coffee culture: coffee around the world

Coffee shops and coffee culture

Starting a day with an invigorating beverage is something that people do in almost any culture in the world. Coffee is probably one of the leaders in popularity, and indeed it does help millions of people wake up and feel toned every day. But it is not only coffee’s energising properties that matter when we are talking about its incredible popularity all over the globe. Coffee is a culture. But what is coffee culture and how is it affecting the world and our habits?

What is coffee culture?

women drinking coffee in a coffee shop and socializing

Drinking coffee is a social activity to a great extent. Along with tea, tobacco and alcohol, coffee acts as a social lubricant, making people feel more comfortable and facilitating communication in social occasions or in unfamiliar situations. Thus, coffee culture can be referred to as a specific atmosphere and a whole bunch of social behaviours associated with drinking coffee. In other words, it’s about the place, the social setting, the conversations and other aspects that accompany having a cup of coffee.

The term coffee culture is also related to the diffusion and adoption of this drink by a country or a part of the world. Each one of them is a unique love story, having a deep impact on a country’s economic, social and cultural life.

History of Coffee Culture

Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee cezve – Photo by @marcosecchi

Coffee culture started to shape some time in the 14th century in the Ottoman Empire, despite numerous attempts taken at that time to ban coffee for its stimulating effect. Ottoman coffeehouses were centres of social and cultural life of the country.

Starting from the 18th century coffee started conquering the hearts of Western Europeans.

English coffeehouses attracted writers and artists and were also a place to discuss politics and business.

Viennese coffee houses established a coffee culture of their own with large rooms, magnificent chandeliers and red-velvet seats served as “extended living rooms” for the Viennese, who very often lived in small apartments and preferred to meet their friends in a more elegant atmosphere.

Café Les Deux Magots
Café Les Deux Magots

We owe the word cafetière and such a useful thing as French press to French coffee culture. The world-famous cafés Les Deux Magots and Le Café Flore were favourite with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Coffeehouses have always played a big role in the history of art, philosophy and politics, because they gave the minds a place to meet, exchange ideas and work together, while enjoying a cup of rich aromatic goodness. The idea of modern coffee shops with free Wifi access and a place to charge smartphones is based on the same traditions.

How much do we love coffee?

Not too much has changed since coffee made its way into our lives back in the 11th century. Coffee houses remain as popular as ever and our love for the invigorating drink grows stronger and stronger. So it’s not a surprise, that coffee is  the second most demanded commodity. Oil is the only thing humans need more than a morning cup of cappuccino. Today coffee beans are growing in any region that can boast tropical climate suitable for the plant to thrive.

With the proliferation of different reusable coffee cups, their designs have become an expression of our aesthetic taste. Latest trends in eco-friendly coffee consumption, coupled with discount incentives offered by coffee shops have grown the number of coffee lovers carrying around reusable coffee cups made of glass or metal. Keen observers will undoubtedly notice bamboo coffee cups in the hands of coffee connoisseurs who prefer to indulge in the ultimate choice of beautiful cup designs.

Coffee culture around the world

Coffee shop mural
Renzo’s cafe, Vancouver – @ruthanddave

Coffee is more than just a drink, as it created a culture of bringing people together around the world. It’s a daily ritual for consumers in any part of the globe. But while we are very similar in how important the world’s most popular hot drink has become for us, we are definitely very diverse and inventive in terms how we like our coffee. Let’s have a look at the varied brewing techniques and preparations in different countries. Might as well bring you a fresh idea for your next caffeine boost!

Ethiopia

Ethiopian coffee
Ethiopian coffee – Photo by @rhodentette

Let’s start with the country where coffee originated. Ethiopia can boast of a long and rich history of coffee drinking. If you like to have a quick cup of coffee on the go, a few hours long ceremony might not seem your thing. Think of it as a profound immersion into the essence of the drink: you go from the roasting to enjoying the brew with added spices and sweeteners. It’s believed that going through the whole ritual helps to get your aura clean and brings good luck. Coffee with honey, cinnamon and cloves? Or even butter. Sounds like a manifestation of good luck to us!

If you are short of time, but still want to give a try to something traditional, go for a spris. It is a 50/50 combination of coffee and tea. The coffee should float above tea, so special pouring skills is something that a barista must have.

Bali, Indonesia

kopi luwak cat coffee indonesia
Indonesian Kopi luwak – @ippikiookami

Have you ever heard of Kopi Luwak, presumably the world’s most expensive coffee? Though now it’s treated more as a tourist attraction and according to some sources it has never been the most expensive coffee, the story behind its production still doesn’t fail to impress. What’s in your cup? Well, you get a hot drink of partially digested coffee beans that were eaten and defecated by a civet cat. It gives a unique taste to the drink due to the enzymes secreted during digestion.  

The story of Kopi Luwak is rooted in history. The first people to drink civet coffee were workers on the coffee plantation. They were not allowed to make their coffee from the beans processed on the plantation, so they would gather the beans from the droppings of wild civets.They enjoyed the coffee, so word spread until their Kopi Luwak became famous.

Today people drink it either because they can’t resist taking part in the bizarre nature of the civet coffee story (and who wouldn’t want to have the expensive bragging rights that go with it!) or because they just like it better than other coffee, and continue to drink it.

Italy

Espresso coffee
Espresso – Photo by @schill

Italians love their coffee. This love has become a sophisticated internationally recognised cultural phenomenon.

Italians drink their coffee strong. But that’s not the only peculiarity. In Italy, you don’t drink milky “breakfast” beverages, like cappuccino or macchiato in the afternoon. In the PM the only acceptable addition to your coffee is some liquor.

When you order a coffee in a bar or a cafe the default option will be espresso. You drink it like a shot, in many cases while standing, and you are ready to enjoy your day!

Turkey

Turkish coffee is a unique style of coffee preparation that became popular outside its country of origin. It was named ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkey’ by UNESCO itself.
Finely ground coffee is boiled in a “cezve”, a long-necked pot made of brass of copper. Sugar is usually added before boiling and the hot drink is served in small espresso-like cups.


Vietnam

Vietnam is known for being the world’s second biggest coffee exporter. “Vietnamese Coffee” in the North of the county is served with a whipped egg and condensed milk. At times egg yolk can replace milk. Though it may not be the most typical ingredient to add, the result is absolutely delicious!

Australia

Flat white coffee

The home of “flat white”, the preparation style that’s gaining more and more popularity around the world. It is basically a double espresso with hot milk and milk foam on top.

These are only a few examples of the diverse coffee culture around the world. We can also mention frappe in Greece or gahwa in Arabic countries. Not to mention the artisanal coffee culture, deeply focused on providing the highest quality single source coffee, rapidly developing all around the globe via numerous independent coffee shops. The preparation styles may differ, but the underlying idea of a cup of hot drink bringing people together is universal.

Next time you are travelling, use a local coffee shop as a way to take in the country’s culture and traditions!

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