The coffee-drinking cultures in Europe and America are different. Europeans prefer finished blends as coffee of a certain provenience (e.g. Italian espresso), where the quality is permanent, due to the same blending recipe. Americans, however, are coming to favour coffee from certain plantations.
We can even observe a trend towards rare coffees whose annual harvest is negligible, but that have an unmistakeable taste and aroma. This concerns, for example, Hawaiian Kona coffee or the famous Jamaican Blue Mountain, which is highly-prized by experts. Coffee experts think that Europe will begin to discover the magic and variety of flavours of pure coffees. It is expected that its consumption will rise in the old continent.
Italians drink an annual 33bn cups of coffee, which gives a consumption of 600 cups per capita. Coffee culture is very developed here – the number of family roasting plants and coffee shops is truly enormous. It is Italy that gave the world espresso. The first professional machines for making espresso were manufactured at the start of the 20th century in Milan, but in the 1930s Francesco Illy developed a coffee machine that, instead of steam, used compressed air. In 1945 Achille Gaggia invented the portafilter machine. The preparation of espresso guarantees a high degree of aroma and full, rich taste. The ground coffee is extracted so fast that it cannot steep or become bitter much.
Drinking coffee in the numerous coffee shops on Parisian boulevards and squares is natural for tourists and locals and a typical addition to the city’s colour. This habit has its origin with traders in the provinces, in particular the port of Marseilles. Coffee appeared in Paris in 1657. It was first sold by street traders in small shops and at fair stands. The first real coffee shop - Café Procope - was opened by Procopio di Cultelli in 1686. Its popularity was boosted by its attractive positioning opposite the Théâtre Français. Its elegant mirrors and marble tables ensure it gets respect and people visited it not only because of the gossip, but also because of the chance to meet names like Russeau, Diderot, etc. Later, during the revolution, they were replaced by Marat, Robespiere and Danton. Until 1720 Paris was the home of 380 garden or street coffee shops, 150 years later there were three thousand of them. Many of them, including the Café Procope, have remained in operation until today. Coffee consumption in France has been around 180,000t annually in recent years. In contrast to the Italians, the French prefer weaker coffee. They mostly use medium roasted coffees, which are steamed after the coffee beans are ground.
The English are famous for their tea drinking. In tea consumption England is second in the world to Ireland. GBP 560m is spent on coffee in Great Britain, which is only 100m more than tea. In the Czech Republic the coffee-to-tea turnover ratio is much more in favour of coffee, being seven to one. 80 per cent of coffee in Britain is consumed in instant form, 11 per cent of the total quantity is accounted for by top quality. In recent years espresso sales have been growing significantly.
5.7m Finnish coffee consumers drink an incredible 12kg per capita annually. Finland is the number one in the world in this indicator. Finnish consumers are very demanding in terms of quality and instant coffee only accounts for one per cent of total consumption. Local roasting plants only import arabica from Columbia (40 per cent), Brazil (20 per cent), Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Mexico (20 to 25 per cent). The Norwegians, Swedes and Danish are also big coffee consumers and each of these nations has its own method of preparation.
As far as concerns total coffee consumption, Germany is the second largest consumer in the world after the United States. In consumption per capita, however, it is eighth. Consumption per capita was 6.7kg of raw coffee in 1997. On average Germans drink almost four cups of coffee a day.
In the Czech Republic approximately four times fewer cups of coffee are drank annually. Czech consumers prefer coffee that is aromatic, full, strong and bitter, or slightly sweet. A slightly sour taste is foreign to them. “Turek” coffee predominates, but does not have anything to do with traditional Turkish coffee. A “turek” is made from finely ground coffee beans onto which water is poured at 96 degrees (not boiling point), so that the aromatic substances cannot escape. “Turek” coffee is always drunk without milk. Consumption of instant coffee is significantly smaller, even though it has been growing in recent years. In the Czech lands an adult drinks an average of one cup of coffee a day, which means an annual consumption of two to three kilograms per person. From the European viewpoint this value is markedly below average (in Europe the average is six to seven kilograms of coffee per person per year). The biggest coffee consumers are allegedly Prague residents, who drink a whole 14 per cent of everything that is consumed.
You can pay the equivalent of CZK 1,600 for a cup of coffee in Tokyo. For this amount you usually get Jamaican Blue Mountain in a thin porcelain cup. This type is often given as a New Year’s gift. Japan is the only country in the world to celebrate Coffee Day, on 1 October. Espresso is almost not drunk here, as the Japanese prefer light roasted.
In addition, dairy products are less popular than, for example, in Europe, so interest in capuccino is almost zero. Conservation coffee, however, is much sought-after, hot or cold. One the most popular brands is Kilimanjaro, a drink made from Tanzanian coffee.
United States of America
The most popular coffee in the USA today comes from Brazil, Mexico, Columbia and Guatemala. Even though Americans are not mostly demanding about the quality of their coffee, the specialty coffee market, sometimes known as the gourmet market, is large and constantly growing. The situation was completely different in the ‘60s. The market was saturated with a lot of poorer-quality coffees from a few producers.
The most frequently offered coffee in the United States remains espresso. The number of mobile sales outlets that offer espresso is constantly growing. Espresso and cappuccino are poured into white paper cups with plastic lids, so people can drink them while walking. Local consumers are used to drinking espresso from 100% arabica beans. If arabica is roasted too weakly, the finished coffee is too sour. In order to avoid sourness, coffee is mostly strongly roasted. Coffees with standout tastes are enjoying more and more popularity in the USA, which means that the coffees are mostly strongly roasted. This, however, deprives them of finer shades of taste, which local coffee experts regret. In the USA at the present time there is a strong group of people that, to a greater and greater degree, are preferring gourmet coffee. This quality coffee is consumed primarily by yuppies. The National Coffee Association USA is of the opinion that rare products from certain plantations will continue to grow in importance and that the market share of aromatised coffee will rise.
(Information from the book The Coffee Companion by Jon Thorn used in the article).