With a Starbucks on almost every corner, McDonalds converting to McCafe, and Dunkin Donuts as an integral part of many morning commutes, it's hard to believe that anyone drinks more coffee than Americans. Yet, on a per capita coffee consumption basis, the USA is medium sized beverage, in a sea of extra large coffee drinking nations.
In 2013, Euromonitor released a list of the world's largest coffee consumers, in kilograms of beans per capita. In order to help visualize what this means on a day-to-day basis, we took a standard amount of coffee per cup and estimated the number of cups of coffee each person in a given nation consumes per day.
So, while coffee drinking originated in Yemen in the 15th century, and the image of a Parisian cafe or a Roman espresso bar are often the first thought when it comes to the "home" of coffee drinkers, none of these nations break the top ten in terms of how much coffee each citizen consumes. So how do the countries of the world stack up when it comes to coffee consumption?
10 – Brazil: 4.8kg per capita (consumption of 1.32 cups/day)
With coffee as the national beverage and the country holding the title of reigning world leader of coffee production for over 100 years, it is safe to assume that Brazil would be on the list of top coffee drinkers. With a per capita coffee consumption rate of 4.8kg per year, Brazilians drink an average 1.32 cups of the brown stuff per day.
As the world's largest producer of coffee, Brazil devotes more land to coffee farming (2339630 hectares) than the total area of the nation of Israel. With a far higher population than any of the other entrants on the list, Brazil outshines in terms of total consumption; the nation as a total consumed 2,191,596,000kg of raw coffee in 2012.
9 – Belgium: 4.9 kg per capita (consumption of 1.35 cups/day)
When you think of Belgium, visions of waffles and beer may dance in your head, but Belgium has a long history of pairing their national obsession with chocolate with their 1.35 cups of coffee per day.
As a former colonial power in Africa, Belgium was able to feed its demand for coffee by growing the plant in the Congo and Rwanda. Today, with coffee shops in every town, it's easy to grab a quick cup to accompany the world-famous waffles that are the nation's answer to a donut.
8 – Germany: 5.2 kg per capita (consumption of 1.43 cups/day)
Coffee was first popularized in the northern ports of Germany beginning in 1673 when the first coffee house popped up. Cafes were excuses for intellectuals and the wealthy to gather and rub elbows over a hot cup of joe. Even famous German composer Johann Sebastian Bach had a love affair with coffee, frequenting coffee houses and even composing a comical cantata:
“If I couldn’t, three times a day, be allowed my little cup of coffee,
in my anguish I would turn into a shriveled-up roast goat.”
In today's world, the average German consumes about 1.43 cups per day. However, consuming a total 445,197,000kg of coffee per year, it means that while the population is about 7 times that of Belgium, Germans consume about 7.5 times the total amount of their neighbouring coffee-loving nation.
7 – Denmark: 5.3 kg per capita (consumption of 1.46 cups/day)
As we will demonstrate, if the Nordic nations are the kings of Coffee, this nation is appropriately the Danish Prince of the hot brown drink. Residents of the kingdom sip about 1.46 cups of coffee per day.
Like other Scandinavians, coffee in Denmark traditionally is served at each meal and becomes the central focus during special occasions, served with cookies, cakes, and small sandwiches. Danes rank slightly better on another statistic, having the 6th most expensive coffee in the world, so each of those 1.46 cups cost them a pretty krone. So grab a Danish-made Bodum coffee press and some aptly named danishes, and dream about spring in Copenhagen.
6 – Serbia: 5.4 kg per capita (consumption of 1.49 cups/day)
Serbians are known for drinking strong, black, Turkish coffee served with Turkish delight, a sweet gummy dessert usually in a fruit flavour and dusted with powdered sugar.
Turkish coffee is a special process where finely ground coffee is immersed in a pot of very hot water. Just as the water comes to a boil, the pot is removed from the burner, and the process is repeated 2 or 3 more times before pouring the drink, unfiltered, into cups. While it's a bit of a hassle, it must be worth it, Serbs drink 1.49 cups of the delicious nectar per day.
5 – Austria: 5.5 kg per capita (consumption of 1.51 cups/day)
Austria is best known for waltzes, classical composers, and the Viennese coffee houses. The first opening in 1638, the coffeehouse is a special breed of cafe that is known for a specific atmosphere and culture. Most serve small plates of savoury dishes, like sausage, as well as sweets like the famous Linzer torte. You will also find patrons browsing the freely distributed newspapers and in general lingering for hours. This would explain the country’s one and half cups of coffee per day and the 63,984,000kg of total consumption in 2012.
The next time you are in Vienna be sure to try a Kaisermelange (The Emperor’s Mix): An egg yolk is mixed with honey. Hot coffee is slowly poured over the mixture, and it is all topped with frothy cream or milk. If you don't have anywhere to be, get it authentic; they add a shot of brandy.
4 – Slovenia: 6.1 kg per capita (consumption of 1.68 cups/day)
Like Serbia, coffee in Slovenia is usually brewed as Turkish coffee or "Turška Kava" served very strong in tiny cups, sometimes with milk or whipped cream.
Like many other Europeans, Slovenes linger in the cafes better known to locals as "kavarana," sipping 1.68 cups per day. This translates to 9,327,000kg for only 2 million people. That's a lot of kava!
3 – Netherlands: 6.7 kg/capita (consumption of 1.84 cups/day)
In 1616, the Dutch were the first Europeans to obtain live coffee trees, brought back from Mocha, Yemen by Pieter van der Broecke. The beans from these coffee bushes were then used to begin Dutch coffee cultivation, with the colonies of Java and Suriname eventually becoming major suppliers of coffee to Europe.
Nowadays coffee houses in Amsterdam are well known for serving coffee alongside another specialty item, marijuana, but don’t let that cloud your vision, coffee culture is still strong and rich in the Netherlands. On average the Dutch drink 1.84 cups per day.
Coffee is served in the home for "Koffietijd" (Coffee Time), usually with cookies and cakes. Interestingly the coffee culture is somewhat split between the north and south and along religious lines. The north was traditionally populated with Protestants who prefer to serve coffee with only one cookie, seen as a gesture of modesty. In the south, traditionally populated by Roman Catholics, Koffietijd typically includes "vlaai," a large sweet pie.
2 – Norway: 7.2 kg per capita (consumption of 1.98 cups/day)
Like most European countires, coffee in Norway was first made popular among the wealthy in the early 18th century. Even though Norway was a relatively poor country, being ruled by Denmark at the time had its benefits; in this case, lots of cheap java.
Kaffe is typically served black at breakfast, and with dessert after dinner. Norwegians also commonly invite people over specifically for coffee, served with cakes and pastries. The average Norwegian drinks nearly 2 cups of coffee a day, which means the roughly 5 million people of the nation consumed a combined 36,472,000kg in 2012. If you are ever in rural Norway don’t forget to try "karsk", a cocktail made with weakly brewed coffee and a hefty helping of vodka or moonshine. Don’t worry, if it's too strong you can always light it aflame to burn off some of the alcohol!
1 – Finland: 9.6 kg per capita (consumption of 2.64 cups/day)
If you’ve ever met a Finn you know that the national average of 2.64 cups per day is probably on the low end for most in Finland. If you were to take children out of the calculation, the national average would rise even higher!
Coffee is typically consumed all day, every day, and coffee breaks are required by most workers unions. Special occasions and post-church luncheons are celebrated with a coffee table - a buffet of cold sandwiches, breads, cookies and cakes, and of course endless "khavi".
The most popular coffees in Finland are very light roasts, much lighter than anywhere else in the world. This probably originated early on when Finns would purchase green coffee berries to roast themselves at home. The traditional Finn way of brewing coffee is a variation on Turkish coffee where water and coffee grounds are brought just barely to a boil repeatedly.
The Finnish coffee culture may stem from varying influences such as Lutheran work ethic, Swedish rule, and several prohibitions on coffee, but one thing is for sure: coffee isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If you are ever invited to a Finnish home prepare to be met with hot pots of coffee - just don’t ask for decaf, it's virtually non-existent in this Nordic country.