Once upon a time us Brits would settle for a cup of instant granules, burnt with boiling water and brought down to barely warm with some ice cold milk. It’s 2018 and those days are long gone. Artisanal cafes serving coffees from across the globe, with flavours advanced from bean specific techniques, have raised the game exponentially. Indeed the availability of both knowledge and product on most high streets has only served to make us ever more discerning. However, while our coffee game is certainly better than it once was, compared to many of our European counterparts we’re seriously behind the times.
According to research from Nobly, a global point of sale company that helps provide small hospitality businesses with intelligent sales technology, the UK has the smallest coffee culture in the whole of Europe. They found that in Britain, there are only 2 coffee shops per every 10,000 people and the average citizen consumes 2.63 kgs a year. Measure this against Portugal, where each citizen puts back 4.6 kilograms of coffee each year and has a whopping 41.5 cafes per 10,000 citizens, and you can see just how small our coffee culture is (comparatively speaking of course).
So if you’re finding the UK’s meagre coffee outlet offering as disappointing as a decaf coffee on a Monday morning, here’s 4 IDEAL destinations in Europe with the largest coffee culture where you can go and get your caffeine fix.
If you haven’t guessed from the above stats, the Portuguese have claimed the prize of Europe’s biggest coffee lovers. The countries coffee culture dates all the way back to the 18th century when Brazil, its largest colony, got hold of the first arabica seeds. Legend has it that a Portuguese soldier, named Francisco de Melo Palheta, acquired ( or should we say stole) some coffee beans from French Guiana. He took them with him to Brazil and subsequently coffee spread through Portuguese colonies like wildfire. Many beans were also sent to the motherland, and as such the Portuguese coffee culture was born. Today, there’s a cafe on nearly every corner in most parts of Portugal and when it comes to ordering, the most popular coffee is an“uma bica” (pronounced bee-kah) which is like a long espresso.
Ancient mythology, lamb koftas and lots of plate smashing, coffee isn’t the first thing you think of when it comes to the Greek culture. However, Greece is one of the top coffee-consuming countries in the world with the second largest number of cafés per capita. Moreover one of the world’s most famous coffee drinks was invented in Greece. The frappe was accidentally concocted in 1957 at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair when an employee of Nestle wanted to make a typical hot instant coffee. However, he couldn’t find any hot water and subsequently created the now named frappe latte with the ingredients and tools he had available. Today, this iconic, frothy ice-cold coffee is the most ubiquitously served coffee drink in the country alongside the The Freddo – a mini-sized icy delight and another popular Greek coffee invention.
According to Nobly’s research, Finland consumes more coffee per person than any other European country. However, while they consume huge amounts of coffee, cafes are few and far between with only 2.2 cafés per 10,000 people. Why is this? Well we can speculate a number of reasons; first of all, in Finland they have a thing called santsikuppi where in many places when you buy a cup of coffee, you can have a free second refill. Secondly, by law, the Finns take a ‘coffee break’ at work twice daily for 10 minutes.Thirdly as Samuli Ronkanen, who owns Helsinki’s Good Life Coffee told the Independent. “It’s impolite not to drink the offered coffee and pastries. It doesn’t matter how much coffee you had before.”
Whatever the reason, coffee is ingrained in the Finnish culture. Oh and coffee in Finland is almost always served with a cake or pastry – often a korvapuusti – a traditional Finnish cinnamon roll which translates as ‘slapped ears’. In fact, there is even a word in Finnish, kakkukahvi, which means “coffee and cake.”
Surprisingly Norway has the fourth largest coffee culture in Europe and according to experts, the country is changing the way we drink coffee. Indeed, the light roast has become the hallmark of Norwegian coffee and is gaining popularity across the globe. Experts insist that a light roast reveals more of the coffee’s aromas, allowing the characteristics of the bean to be more easilty identified. Most of us are more use to the dark stuff, this is because bulk coffee roasters will roast the coffee to hide imperfections and provide a consistent taste. So if you want to savour a different type of coffee, head to Scandinavia and have a brew with the caffeine-crazy Norwegians.